While it's fair to say that if you loved the first one you'll lap this up (and if you weren't impressed, you wont be converted), if like me you were a bit on the fence and hoping for a little bit more than just flamboyant gunplay attached to a skeletal plot device, you'll certainly be satisfied with this superior sequel.
Despite the original's combination of simplicity, style and amazingly choreographed gunplay (plus some enjoyable assassin-themed mythology); I found the flimsy premise, invulnerable anti-hero and stupid plot contrivances (eg the Dr Evil moment) really got on my Wick. For a while, part 2 seemed, disappointingly, to only offer more of the same. Why, if he's so unstoppable, do they even bother to try and stop him stealing back his car? Why not just let him take it? We get a tiresome preamble (he reluctantly accepts his assignment after saying "no"), and lots of pre-mission indulgences that see him get suited, booted and armed to the teeth by a host of in-on-it underworld servants.
What follows however, (alongside multiple action set pieces to rival the nightclub scene in part 1) is actually a superb expansion of the story and it's mythology, with far more brutal and bloody action than before, higher stakes for Wick (he faces real danger this time) and stronger adversaries amongst the legions of disposable red-shirts. Perhaps the stand out scene in the movie comes when John has to run the gamut of an 'open contract' while travelling back to New York; and a montage sequence of him dealing with various assassins- in spectacularly brutal fashion- before facing a fellow professional who may be his equal. It's incredible. I wasn't quite so enamoured with Lawrence Fishburn's cameo; although he seemed to be enjoying himself, I don't think it added much to the film. Ian McShane however makes for a stylish mentor once again and adds class and gravitas. Also, unlike chapter 1, the action doesn't peak too soon and endures almost to the cliffhanger finale that sees Wick go on the run (Bourne style), changing the dynamic for the inevitable (and welcome) third chapter. Also present and correct is the first films lurid colour palette, gorgeous cinematography (this time with added European flavour) and pulse-pounding soundtrack. Style, but with a bit of substance this time. Make no mistake, its pure fantasy without a shred of pretence to the contrary, but its Wicked fun.