John Wick: Chapter 2 picks up a couple of days after the events of the first film, with John still trying to get his car back that was stolen at the onset of the original. While this set piece was used to bring everyone back into the fold of action contained in John Wick, it actually felt a little too choreographed and tried too hard to remind everyone why they liked the original film.
Following this non-sensical set piece, we are then brought to the real plot of the movie, someone has a marker on Mr. Wick and he must repay his debt, if not, he is to face dire consequences. It is that premise the rest of the film uses for the next hour and a half to put Wick/Reeves in impossible situations just to see how he will fight his way out of them.
Make no mistake about it, John Wick: Chapter 2 has all the carnage of the original, and if that is all you are going for you will not be disappointed. However, unlike the original, the story is not as precise. It seems a bit all over the place. It is as if the studio mandated for the filmmakers to not just create a sequel, but a franchise that will span multiple movies, and then gave them 2 weeks to write it.
Keanu Reeves does not disappoint as John Wick. As with most roles that he is given, he goes all out to embody the character. Just like the first film, Keanu went through extensive training with ex-special forces members to learn just how to handle all the weaponry his character uses in the film. It truly is a great feeling to on screen the hard work paying off to create a wonderful ballet of blood and bullets from the opening sequence to the very end of the film.
Aside from having the supporting cast of characters that survived the first film's carnage back for the sequel, we are also introduced to a new slew of characters including Ruby Rose (xXx: The Return of Xander Cage), Common (Wanted), Riccardo Scamarcio in his US feature film debut, and Keanu's old Matrix co-star, Laurence Fishburne.
Director Chad Stahelski continues his directorial work that gave him his claim to fame in the first movie. Action sequences lit up with neon and were shot with long wide shots, working the camera around Keanu to showcase his fight dances without any fast cuts so one can appreciate the real hard work that went into these scenes. One decision made that was a bit disappointing is that the hard rock soundtrack of the first film that showcased Marilyn Manson's "Killing Strangers" is now relegated to techno and a classic Hollywood score. It would have been nice with Manson's Say10 album coming out next week to showcase the new song in the film, but it looks like Stahelski and the studio wanted to change things up a bit. Thankfully, that included having the dog survive the film.
If you are a fan of the first John Wick movie, you will enjoy this film immensely, save for a few non-logical pieces. The film is a great escape for 2 hours and will make you long to see John Wick: Chapter 3 by the time the credits role.