The original John Wick was a bit of a stunner. Coming out of nowhere, containing no narrative sophistication, (it’s literally just about a guy who goes on a killing spree because his dog was killed) it managed to win audiences over. The same thing that made the first John Wick so good is what makes the sequel enjoyable. Great action paired with a bad ass protagonist who makes both crime bosses and cops shit their pants in fear. Yet, there’s more to it than just that. In what’s becoming increasingly rare in the contemporary Hollywood era, John Wick 2 not only avoids being a disappointing sequel, it surpasses the original.
The movie starts with John (Keanu Reeves) tracking down his car that was stolen in the first movie, and killing his way to getting it back. I haven’t seen so much destruction so soon in a movie since the opening scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Great way to kick off the action and remind the audience of how bad ass the former assassin is.
Shortly afterwards, John is visited by Italian crime boss Santino D’Antonio who reveals a blood stained marker which represents a blood oath John made to him. Because of this John is required to fulfill this oath and help D’Antonio, but John refuses before it’s even revealed what he has to do. A little surprising John is so quick to ignore a blood oath, but D’Antonio makes him pay by destroying his house with a grenade launcher. After talking to Winston, the owner of the Continental hotel in New York City, a sanctuary for killers, John realizes he has to fulfill his blood oath, because it is one of two rules of the Continental. The other being no one is allowed to kill inside the Continental, this becomes important later.
So what does D’Antonio ask him to do? The selfish bastard sends John to kill his sister so D’Antonio can take her place at “The High Table.” Sheesh. Talk about sibling rivalry. That’s not even the worst part though. After the deed is done, D’Antonio puts a seven million dollar bounty on John’s head because, as he tells John over the phone,”Of course I must avenge the death of my sister.” What an asshole, right? Don’t worry he gets what he deserves.
Moving on, after the bounty is placed on John’s head every killer in the city is out to get him and he begins to experience what it was like to be one of the Warriors after being framed for the murder of Cyrus. Yes, I just dated myself with that reference. No, I do not care. Obviously every killers attempt to earn the bounty is a mortal failure, but John shows he actually is human by requesting the help of a former enemy, The Bowery King Laurence Fishburne), to get him to D’Antonio to get revenge and end the bounty. Any and all Matrix fans will enjoy seeing Reeves and Fishburne reunited onscreen for the first time in almost 15 years.
Long story short, John finds D’Antonio, kills his goons. D’Antonio runs to the sanctuary of the Continental. In one of the great protagonist vs antagonist showdowns in recent memory, D’Antonio is midway through an arrogant sentence, thinking John gives a damn about the sanctuary rules of the Continental, and John blows his head away.Mid-sentence. John Wick isn’t the typical protagonist who has to listen to the villains evil plan before doing something. Dude just blows his head off mid-sentence like I don’t have time for your shit bro. Told you he’s a bad-ass.
Unfortunately for John, his bounty is doubled after killing D’Antonio and he is excommunicated. The movie ends with him, suspiciously eyeing everyone, as he begins to run for his life as he will have to defend it from a non stop barrage of assassins in the third movie.
After 20+ years in the game Reeves is still stuck with his deadpan faces that’s basically his version of Zoolander’s “Blue Steele,” his only one. Still, he’s fun to watch. Especially with his battles with Cassian, played by Common. Although John leaves him with a knife in his heart I have a sneaky suspicion we won’t be seeing the last of him. John Wick 2 perfectly builds on what’s established in the first movie and exquisitely sets the stage for the next one. This movie will leave you begging for more.