John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

DVD Cover (Summit Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 74%
Overall Rating
Ranked #306
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Connections: John Wick

Bound by an inescapable blood debt to the Italian crime lord, Santino D'Antonio, and with his precious 1969 Mustang still stolen, John Wick--the taciturn and pitiless assassin who thirsts for seclusion--is forced to visit Italy to honour his promise. But, soon, the Bogeyman will find himself dragged into an impossible task in the heart of Rome's secret criminal society, as every killer in the business dreams of cornering the legendary Wick who now has an enormous price on his head. Drenched in blood and mercilessly hunted down, John Wick can surely forget a peaceful retirement--as in this lethal ballet of bullets--no one can make it out in one piece. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: April 4, 2017
I absolutely loved 2014's action flick, John Wick and I was over-joyed to hear that Keanu Reeves was returning to the headshot-happy hitman. Still, there's not a movie buff alive that isn't a little leary when it comes to talk of sequels.

Chapter 2 starts off the day after the last movie ended. While his reign of terror against the Tarasovs was nothing more than a personal mission of vengeance, there was a running motif through the last movie over whether or not he had returned to the life. To Santino D'Antonio, John Wick's mayhem is an undeniable sign that he's returned, and he shows up at John's door looking for him to honor his marker. You see, a marker is a blood oath within the hitman world, one where the debtor can call in a favor without question. It seems that when John did that impossible task for Viggo that granted him his freedom, he had some help, and now Santino feels its time he gets paid back. John maintains that he's retired, but turning down a marker is cardinal sin. Santino reminds him of this by pumping a few RPGs into his house, and John reluctantly takes on the assignment: killing Santino's own sister to secure his spot on the High Table.

Fortunately, for the most part, my sequel worries were all for nothing, Chapter 2 gave me more of everything I loved from the first movie. Naturally, John's shoot-em-up game is still up-to-snuff, spending the entire movie using his usual style of body/leg shots before the definitive headshot. That was to be expected, but what I was really hoping they'd deliver was some expansion on the criminal underworld the franchise built,and we got a fair helping of that as well. Specifically, we get a peek at the governing body of the whole operation. However, that's all we get is a peek; just that it exists really. I would have loved if they had delved into that a little further, but like I said in the last review, I love this universe. It's fertile grounds for the entire franchise, even if Reeves decided to walk away.

That's not to say this one doesn't have a few negatives worth talking about, but thankfully they're all pretty nitpicky. The biggest problem was with the pacing of the plot. Now, I don't mean to say it slows down or anything like that (John Wick doesn't know the meaning of slowing down), but there's a shift in the plot halfway through that's a bit jarring. It's not a bad transition from a plot-line perspective, but they definitely could have smoothed over the actual switch. Also, this one asked a lot more from my suspension of disbelief than the last one did, primarily from the obliviousness of the crowds. Throughout the whole movie, people are just going about their business, ignoring all the gunfire going on around them. Finally, I know they had to up the stakes in traditional sequel protocol, but by the end of the movie, it seemed like the entire city of Manhattan was involved in this "secret" underworld. Now, I realize that provides something of an explanation for people ignoring all the fighting going on around them, but it's certainly not a "solution" that I appreciate.

In his return to the titular role, Keanu Reeves has taken the character to a new level. Once again, he's incredibly angry, but this is different. The attack on Daisy hit him so close to home, it left the man numb. His fury was cold and calculated. Santino forcing him into the job is a bit more superficial, even though it comes with much higher stakes. This is now a very emotional anger, and Reeves puts just enough differences into what is obviously the same character to keep things fresh. In the same vein, Riccardo Scamarcio plays a very different villain than Michael Nyqvist did; D'Antonio is a much slimier character, using his position as protection, as opposed to Tasarov's more direct approach. Finally, fellow newcomers Ruby Rose and Common both excelled in their roles as fellow assassins. Rose's character in particular had an interesting quirk that she was able to raise to something more than just a mere gimmick.

Needless to say, I was very happy with this second outing of Mr. Wick. Fortunately for me, Chapter 3 is in the works. Here's hoping he gets the hat trick. 7.5/10.
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