There is an old intimidation tactic where the bad guy comes in, says something along the lines of “This is a nice place you have here … it would be a shame if something happened to it”, and proceeds to knock something over. This has become a trope and is played for comedic effect … until John Wick: Chapter 2. The first John Wick had the bad guy kill John’s puppy and steal his car … and he was Russian – easy enough way to know who is the bad guy. The second (after an intense wrap up to the first in a cold open) starts out with the bad guy LITERALLY using that cliche.
We find out John gave out a marker (favor) to an Italian mob boss in turn for helping him complete the job that got him out of the business. Santino (mob boss) forces John to come back for one more final job … only for him to get an enormous bounty placed on his head.
I would give this movie 8 “times being hit by a car and walking it off” out of 10.
The first John Wick had a lot of fantastically choreographed shootouts and fights. On top of that, they were filmed clearly without a lot of jump cuts. The only way to improve on the first is to add more action and make it bigger … which they took to heart for the sequel.
The highlights from the first film are the shootouts in his house and the nightclub. The sequel took a little longer to get where it was going but it was worth the payoff. The shootouts had a significantly higher body count, the hand-to-hand fights were much more extensive, and the number of big adversaries for John to face off were more numerous. These were all flat out insane in the best way possible.
That is not to say the small details were forgotten either. One that comes to mind is during a fight with Cassian (Common), John reloads his gun with one hand while grappling. There are dozens of blink and you’ll miss it moments.
My biggest complaints for this movie were my biggest praises for the first. The runtime was only 20 minutes longer, but seemed longer regardless of how much more action that was packed into it. This could be because of my other issue, adding more story than necessary. Had they stuck with one story, it could have worked. Instead they revealed a lot more of the mystery of the Continental and that world. I think they might have pulled back the curtain a little too much a little too soon for the sake of this particular movie if they are trying to set up a series.
This is easily the best movie I have seen this year in theatres. They leaned into the comedy a little more than I would have liked and got a little more liberal with how much injury John Wick could endure … but not enough to take me out of the movie. This is the type of movie worth seeing on the big screen and I highly recommend it!
For a “similar” movie, I would lean towards Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood’s anti-western about William Munny coming out of retirement for one more job. Things get a little more complicated than expected forcing the protagonist to make some hard decisions.