The original John Wick was a movie that surprised and delighted me with how good it was. Having seen some more recent Keanu Reeves movies, including Man of Tai Chi (Which I don’t actually recommend it’s pretty boring overall) where he played a very intimidating villain, I knew he had a performance like this in him, but what surprised me was how well the movie managed to support him in that role. John Wick: Chapter 2 might not be able to recapture that surprise, but it’s a worthy follow up that expands upon the original.
I love the emotional simplicity of John Wick, the way it gets from zero to murder everyone in such a quick and shameless way. But its the speed and brutality of its violence that really made it stand out. We just don’t get that many American action movies like this any more, so each good one we do get feels like a treasure.
John Wick also did a really good job at establishing its world of assassins, so it’s great to see this sequel expand that world even more. It might not be able to recreate the magic of the revenge plot of the original, but it succeeds on every other front.
The movie has its oddities. It introduces a bulletproof material that’s super thin and can stop any bullet but not the pain. That results in a scene where Wick and another assassin dump their entire clips into each other, fall over, but then get up and walk away without issue. He even holds up the side of his jacket to block bullets from hitting his face a bunch of times. It’s weird.
There’s also way more of The Matrix in this movie than I expected. For one there’s a part where it seems like everyone in New York is actually an assassin out to kill Wick. And then there’s the part where Neo meets Morpheus.
This is a movie that subscribes to the Samurai Jack school of action, in that if something is cool once then you might as well just do it a couple more times because it’ll probably still be cool. Why fall down one flight of stairs when you can fall down three? Why flip just one guy and steal his gun when you could do that eight more times?
This is a fun action movie. It didn’t blow me away or surprise me, it just delivered on more of the same. The pacing isn’t 100% in some places but I do think that this builds its action throughout better than the previous movie and has a better finale; even if it does just set up for a John Wick 3. But I’m already excited to watch that movie too so whatever. The important thing is that there are some good set pieces and the action is brutal and satisfying.