John Wick is still trying to get out of the game and the game still won’t let him go. The result is another glorious bloodbath.
It seems like it’s been about a week since the events that ended the first movie. When the movie begins, John (Keanu Reeves) is tracking down his car. You may recall that, along with killing his dog, the Russians stole his car. He makes short work of them and demolishes the car in the process, but manages to get it back home along with his new dog. John buries his guns and gold again, believing that he can once again put that part of himself away.
Since there’d be no movie if that happened, John is immediately visited by Santino D’Antonio. Apparently, Santino did something for John that allowed him to get out of the game in the first place. In exchange for that favor, Santino has a marker for John. The marker allows Santino to call on John to complete a task. He’s decided that he wants to call in that favor, but John insists that he doesn’t do that anymore. Apparently, refusing the marker also causes you to forfeit your life, so Santino shoots John’s house with a rocket launcher. Thankfully, the dog isn’t injured, but John isn’t too thrilled with being blown up. He goes to see Winston (Ian McShane), who tells him that he needs to honor his marker.
Not wanting to fly in the face of the rules of his assassin society, John decides to honor the marker. It turns out that Santino wants John to murder his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini) so that he can take her seat on the “high council”. My best guess is that the council is the head of this global criminal network. Of course, John knows that murdering her will put a target on his back, even if he is doing it for Santino.
After Gianna’s death, a bounty is put out on John, but John is busy hunting for Santino. Along with general bounty hunters John has to fend off Gianna’s former bodyguard, Cassian (Common) and Santino’s mute body guard Ares (Ruby Rose). After fending off Cassian and bunch of other assassins, Wick gets some help from New York’s Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and makes his way to Santino for a final showdown. In order to get to Santino, Wick has to dispatch Ares. By the time he does, Santino has made his way to The Continental, which is an established no-violence zone.
Wick isn’t willing to let Santino hide behind the hotel and shoots him right in front of Winston. Normally, this would be a death sentence for John but Winston isn’t willing to go through with that. However, he is forced to excommunicate John from the Continental and all of its affiliates while John has the High Council coming after him for killing two of its members. Even though he’s on the run, John leaves Winston to warn everyone that he will kill everyone that they send after him.
What did I think?
The long and short of it is that John Wick: Chapter 2 starts kind of slow, then slowly returns to form and picks up into something new towards the middle/end of the movie.
The opening sequence with Wick continuing to stalk the Russians just felt like it was very slow. A lot of that comes from the way that the fight is choreographed. It looks more like a staged judo/jujitsu demo than the fluid kind of fight scenes that the first movie thrived on. Even Wick’s movement is kind of stiff as they decide to just pelt him with random mobsters and motor vehicles. The most impressive thing about the whole sequence was just how beat up Wick’s car got.
Fortunately, things really pick up after Wick kills Gianna. Claudia Gerini isn’t in this movie for very long, but her entire exchange with Wick really sets the tone for the best parts of the rest of the movie. They make it obvious that there’s a connection and a history between them, without really going into it in detail. When Gianna sees Wick, she knows that she’s dead already. It’s like they’re watching a sequence of dominoes fall. The rules of the world they live in are so stringent that they can pretty much predict exactly what will happen from the moment they see each other. This was hinted at during Wick’s earlier conversations, but this was the first time that it really felt like something potentially world-changing was going to go down.
It’s this continued lifting of the veil that covers this world of assassins that provides intrigue for the movie. Just like in the previous movie, we only really learn as much about this world as is necessary to understand why and how Wick is doing certain things. Even so, it’s obvious that there is a lot more that we aren’t being shown. Somehow, that actually comes off as a good thing.
Gianna’s death also starts off some of the best action moments in the movie. John making his way through her security team was like the scene where he took people out in his house, just amplified and multiplied by a 100. The cherry on top was his fight with Common. That sequence was what really made me sit up and say, “now we’re talking”. I really loved the way they ended their altercations too. Mostly because it always left the door open for Common’s character to come back after Wick. You have to be fairly creative to find a way for two skilled assassins to continually clash and not actually kill each other.
Wick’s other primary adversary, Ares, didn’t come off quite as well. Ruby Rose does look incredibly cool in the part, and having her be mute is an interesting twist. I don’t really know what point her being mute served, other than to show that Wick speaks way too many languages. It was interesting that having her be mute also meant that no woman actually speaks in the movie for a very long time (I’m sure this was an unintended side effect, but it’s still interesting to note). Even more than being mute, the strangest thing about Ares was her insistence on trying to take on Wick. Even in her final scenes, she decided that she could take Wick down on her own. The entire time I’m just like, “What could possibly give you the confidence to think that you could fight this guy on your own when he’s just mowed through a small army?”
With the way the movie ends, it’s pretty clear that the intention is to do a “Chapter 3” in this series, which I am all for. However, I am curious about whether or not that will be a strong entry in the series. While John Wick: Chapter 2 had moments that improved on the first movie, overall it wasn’t as strong. That makes me wonder whether or not there’s anywhere else for the another movie in this series to go. Despite that, this is clearly a team and franchise that understands exactly what it is and produces enjoyable movies. As long as they continue moving forward with that mind-set I’m sure a 3rd movie will be perfectly enjoyable.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
- Keanu Reeves just murders everyone and it's glorious
- The fight scene between Keanu and Common (no I'm not using their character names)
- This movie knows that plot doesn't matter
- They don't kill another dog
- The action in the movie starts kind of slow and feels a bit awkward/forced
- There are so many things that are going on in this world that are never really explained