John Wick comes back all guns blazing; in what is a louder, much more violent, and ultimately superior film to last years surprise hit.
Picking up pretty much from where the first film ended, we find John Wick looking to tie up some loose ends before settling into retirement.
But as we all know, there's no such thing as retirement for men like John.
I must say that I was a little apprehensive when I heard this sequel was shooting so soon after the first film's release. However that looks to have paid dividends, given that they clearly had some momentum going after Chapter 1, of which they've taken full advantage.
Having just watched the stunning IP Man too, I was very much in the mood for some more action - and I wasn't disappointed. After getting straight into it in Chapter 2, there is admittedly somewhat of a lull to proceedings, whilst we set up what's to come. However when it does all kick off - boy does it really kick off!
Before I started watching this I had made a mental note to count throughout just how many become victims of Wick's assassin. But I lost count nearly right away, such is the sheer volume of enemies Wick puts down from scene to scene.
And the way he puts them down is just so damn good too. This "gun-fu" is really something special indeed. And if you've watched the DVD extras from Part 1, it is something Reeves really throws himself into, his dedication to making it look spectacular is there for all to see. And he successfully ups the ante even further in Part 2, with even more of these breathtaking "gun-fu" scenes, and a handful of terrific 1-on-1 combat encounters. He deserves a lot of credit for making John Wick the ruthless "boogeyman" he is. Reeves seems to have been in the wilderness in recent years, but as Wick himself said in Part 1, "I'm thinking I'm back." And he most definitely is.
Reeves isn't alone though in making the film what it is. Pretty much everyone who could return from Part 1 does so, Ian McShane standing out in particular as Winston, owner of the Continental hotel, and mentor in some ways to Wick's troubled assassin. Lance Reddick is also back, John Leguizamo makes an appearance, and one of my favourite bad guys Peter Stormare has a cameo at the beginning. And fellow Matrix Alumni Laurence Fishburne has a small yet important role this time around as well. Common provides some good support as a fellow hitman, and his encounters with Wick provide some of the film's best moments. Riccardo Scamarcio plays the chief villain this time around, and whilst his turn is nothing all that special, this does little to affect the film negatively. There's that many bad guys for John to deal with anyway, Scamarcio easily gets lost amongst them. And that's ok.
So what of the plot then? Well without giving too much away, it basically centres around "a blood debt" - which is just a fancy way of saying, "John, you've got to go and kill a few people again." Make no mistake, the plot is pretty wafer thin, but that's largely irrelevant, as by the conclusion you'll only be thinking back to some of the ways (and perhaps squirming a little) that Wick despatched his victims. And wanting to see him do it some more.
And what of the ending? Well without giving anything away, it's more than satisfactory, and basically sets us up perfectly for Chapter 3. Which I guess was always an inevitability, and even more so now. Reeves has his mojo back, and he clearly loves this part so much, I'd honestly be surprised now if we didn't see a Part 4 and beyond.
For any action flick fan seeing this film is a must. Along with the first one, it is probably the best action driven franchise we've had now for a long long while. And personally I hope we don't stop anytime soon. As his cop buddy asks at one point again, "Are you working?"
Yes he's working.
And I'm happy to watch him work all day long.