John Wick : Chapter 2 picks up almost from where the first movie left off. John has the new dog but the same old life. He still pines for his wife, he still looks at the same video on his phone and he still walks around looking like a very tired Keanu Reeves. But the fights, oh my the fights! Not as slickly choreographed as the first movie but still as visceral, maybe even more so. And our leading man is not afraid to get in there and land some punches. Or rack the slide on a gun before wreaking havoc on the heads of a bunch of random goons who must have only been defined in the shooting script as ‘Death 29’, or some such.
But what about the story you ask – does this movie have some sort of narrative to weave around its intricately choreographed fights? Yes my friend, it does. The movie most definitely has a story engine driving it further along into the world of John Wick and that engine is powering a zipper the wake of which is splitting open the fabric of John Wick’s universe–the Wickverse if you will–to reveal so much more of the world that was just hinted at in the first movie. For one thing The Continental has branches around the world so when John’s work takes him to Rome he stays at the Italian sibling (cousin?) of the hotel we saw earlier in New York. It appears that the currency that he, and his assassin colleagues exchanged in the first movie is of differing value, which may or may not be defined by the scale of the job. And there is a switchboard manned by ladies who bat nary an eyelash before accepting the commitment of large sums of money to inform everyone in that world that they could earn big for killing a person. One other thing: blood oaths are a big deal to these people.
So yes, the story (if you will) is that John is being held accountable for a blood oath he swore unto an Italian dude called Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) and as repayment of that debt he is required to take a life in Rome. Who, and why, I will leave you to find out for yourself. I don’t even suppose it is worth stating here that Santino is one bad dude and the thing he has recruited Wick for is not going to leave said Mr. Wick in a good place.
Much of the (surviving) cast from John Wick (I guess we must call it Chapter 1 now) is back for this one but I have to say I found the dialogue a touch camp and overwrought in this one. While it was nice to see Neo and Morpheus reunited on screen I wasn’t a big fan of what (little) Laurence Fishburne’s character brought to the narrative. So while a bit of a deal was made on social media about the fact that no female character speaks for nearly 40 minutes in this movie, I think everyone–in the audience at least–would have been much happier if no one spoke in this movie. Or spoke way less than they did.
Final Analysis: John Wick: Chapter 2 was worth the wait. Enough story gears have been moved around that the fans will actually want to know what happens to the character in Chapter 3. I hope this movie makes enough money worldwide for the powers that be to give the go ahead for Round Three.