Retirement is supposed to be a period of relaxation, a time where one can enjoy life without being beholden to anyone else. For John Wick (Keanu Reeves) the quest for a peaceful retirement is quickly becoming a job in itself.
Expanding on the ground work he laid in the original film, Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 is an orgy of outlandish violence…and fans would not have it any other way. Similar to Stahelski’s previous outing, the film’s plot is merely a mandatory exercise to get audiences to the jaw-dropping cavalcade of action.
Still mourning the passing of his wife, and more recently his former dog, Wick has one last item on his to do list, re-acquiring the car that was stolen from him in the previous film, before he can return to the solitude of his retirement. Of course, no one ever truly is retired in the criminal underworld, especially when they have outstanding debts to pay. This is the situation Wick finds himself in when crime boss Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes to enlist the former hitman’s services. Tasked with killing D’Antonio’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), who is one of the twelve governing heads that establish the laws that all criminals must follow, Wick sets out to honor his debt knowing that his actions will result in the ruthless Santino claiming his sister’s seat.
As is to be expected, Wick finds himself in a no-win situation when he is double-crossed by D’Antonio and must deal with a plethora of assassins who come looking to claim the bounty on his head.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of those rare sequels that surpasses the original film while staying true the world it established. There are no deep moral messages, no unnecessary pop culture references, just a film that gives its fans exactly what they want. The John Wick franchise lives and dies by its action and its humour. Never taking itself too seriously, Stahelski’s film is an entertaining thrill ride from beginning to end. Opening with a juxtaposition of silent era slapstick comedy and a man falling off his motorcycle mid-chase, Chapter 2 establishes its tone early. One just needs to observe the gleeful action sequence where Wick’s body is knocked around, as if it was stuck in a bumper car derby, to see the fun that Stahelski, a former stunt coordinator, has in staging each set piece.
Establishing a world were even the homeless man on the street can potentially be a highly trained killer, and weapons can be purchases with the same enthusiasm as a person shopping for a fancy dinner party, Stahelski’s film is a wall-to-wall action fest where the body count rises faster than one’s eyes can process. Every object, even a simply pencil, can be used to maximum lethal effect.
One does not go into John Wick: Chapter 2 expecting a deep plot, but rather for a violent ballet of bullets and fisticuffs. In that regard, Stahelski’s film delivers everything John Wick fans could hope for and more.