Every once in a while, a non-superhero sequel surprises you when you least expect it, and “John Wick: Chapter 2” is an entertaining example. It’s the sequel to the surprise 2014 action hit, which redeemed Keanu Reeves as the professional hitman John Wick. In my original review of it, I said: “it doesn’t assume it will be good. It actually tries things to make it good, and it is.” This one is even better.
As this sequel begins, John Wick is planning to retire, but when Santino D’Antonio (Ricccardo Scamarcio) burns down his house, and all his photos of his deceased wife (Bridget Moynahan), he has to immediately come out. He wants Wick to kill his sister Giana (Claudia Gerini), and after her assasination, a mute assassin (Ruby Rose), who communicates with sign language, and Giana’s bodyguard (Common) are respectively after him. And even worse: Santino offers $7 million via text to strangers for his head.
“John Wick: Chapter 2” ends up becoming a brilliant satire on fights, bullets, knives, and blood-all part of the generic action movie genre. It doesn’t irritate like “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” or use wall-to-wall CGI like “London Has Fallen.” It makes you laugh and smile when Wick and Common fight while falling down steps, when Wick kills his money-obsessed assassins in a montage, and when he fights two groups of villains in a mirror maze. This movie choses no U-turns, and keeps you going.
Reeves continues to amaze me as Wick, Common and Rose make fresh assassins, and I liked Scamarcio as the main antagonist. You also receive fresh cameos from Laurence Fishburne (Reeves’ “Matrix” co-star), Peter Stormare, John Leguizamo, and Ian McShane. The movie was directed by, once again, by Chad Stahelski, and written, once again, by Derek Kolstad. There are some elements I didn’t fully understand, but these two don’t rely on the same tricks. At times, they get serious, and at other times, they goof off a bit. But mostly, it’s a nonstop lark.