When we last left Mr. Wick (played by Keanu Reeves), he had gotten a pretty decent amount of revenge against the Russian mafia in response to some wrongs committed against him by a rich, self-important douchenozzle kid who had “do you know who my father is”-ed all the way through his life. He’d taken care of most of the loose ends, but they still had one of his cars, so the sequel opens with him retrieving it. It’s loud and violent, but honestly not all that exciting. Fortunately, the movie does get better than that, but it doesn’t quite live up to the first.
Now that he’s got his car back, John is all set to re-retire. But then there’s a knock at the door. It’s a guy named Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), who’s ready to cash in a favor that John owes him. John even gave him a marker and his word of honor that he’d help when the time came, but now he’s just not in the mood. Santino retaliates, which rousts John from his pacifism. John goes to the Continental Hotel for badasses, where the manager (Ian McShane) convinces him to honor his commitment, and then he can consider revenge against Santino.
Let me first say that there are definitely some very entertaining sequences in this film, but honestly, some the best parts are reminiscent of other movies. There’s a “gearing up” montage that feels like it was lifted out of Kingsman: The Secret Service, and there’s an “everyone is out to get him” montage that reminded me a whole lot of agents taking over whoever happened to be nearby Keanu in The Matrix. But not everything borrowed from other films turns out so well. There’s a big fight that takes place in a hall of mirrors that we’ve seen before in other films (I got a real Enter the Dragon vibe from it), but it just wasn’t all that thrilling or innovative.
There were other satisfying fights in the film, and the multiple rounds between Keanu and Common were a lot of fun. And some of the non-violent scenes, especially those with the hotel clerk and the hobo king, were very enjoyable. I got a kick out of the hitman answering service, which seemed to be stuck in the past with its Commodore 64 computers, pneumatic tube system for transporting documents, and a room full of switchboard operators connecting calls by plugging wires into the appropriate jacks.
On the other hand, it’s really hard to sympathize with John at key points in the film. Going back on his word and refusing to honor his marker was a dick move, especially when Santino explained that he wouldn’t have bothered him if he had stayed retired. There are multiple scenes with him mourning his recently-deceased wife that lacked the heart and effectiveness of their counterparts in the first film. And there’s another “bad luck for John” moment at the end of the film that he brings entirely upon himself after repeated warnings.
Ultimately, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a good movie, but it’s not a great one. It doesn’t live up to the first film, but it’s quite a bit of fun at times and could definitely be far worse. If you like the first, there’s probably a good chance that you’ll enjoy the sequel.