In 2017 it’s difficult to make an action movie that feels fun and original. With franchises like Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne, the formula for a great action movie has been well-established. Grandiose action sequences riddled with a marathon of cuts gave audiences as feeling of pure mayhem drenched action.
Movies have been trying to emulate this style ever since to no avail (looking at you, Taken 3), so something has needed to shake things up a little bit. Enter John Wick in 2014, a complete surprise that broke the mold of the growingly tired action genre. A simple premise filled with great action sequences that lets the action play out on screen free of a thousand cuts is exactly what audiences. John Wick set a new bar for action movies, including for it’s own sequel in 2017.
Hitman John Wick is brought out of retirement once again when an associate from his past life calls in on a blood oath. Forcing him to travel to Rome, John Wick faces off against some of the deadliest hitman the world has to offer.
There is a lot of pressure on John Wick: Chapter Two to live up it’s predecessor, and it definitely meets all expectations. The story picks up about a month or so after the first, with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finishing up his business from the first movie. He’s mopping up the few remaining baddies in his doggy-vengeance fueled rampage, and taking out everyone in sight with his reclaimed 69′ Mustang. After the opening credits sequence, the plot cuts all ties to the first film. Wick returns back to his quiet home with his broken car and newly no-named puppy, eager to leave the assassin life behind him once again. Viewers will quickly see that’s just not possible for John Wick, as an old associate from the assassin world quickly shows up at Wick’s house to call in on an old debt. John’s stubbornness to leave the assassin world behind causes him to decline, and thus the events of the movie are set in motion.
What was so great about John Wick was how barebones the plot was. The audience knew nothing about John Wick, aside from his wife passing and leaving him a car and a puppy. When some thugs steal his car and kill his puppy, he awakens his retired assassin persona to exact his revenge on those who wronged him and anyone who tries to stop him. All we knew about John Wick was the tales some on-screen characters would share about his gory deeds carried out with a pencil.
The film gave viewers a brief glimpse into a world of hitmen, with mentions of the rules and conduct everyone is expected to live by. The task set for any good sequel is not to feel like the first, and this is what Chapter Two does right. With Wick pulled back into the assassin life, audiences get a wider view of how big this world really is. The rules of the Continental carry over in Rome. Viewers learn of more of the codes the assassins hold to each other, with the addition of the Markers and the High Table. A montage that takes Wick through all the arms dealers he comes into contact with shows just how incredible this world truly is. The expansion of the lore is a welcome aspect for future entries in this great franchise.
Of course with any sequel, the action needs to be bigger and better than the first. This is executed perfectly here, as all the action feels like it could be taking place in the first movie. Some of the set pieces are just incredible, such as the hall of mirrors in the final act. The addition of characters like the head of security top dog (terrifyingly portrayed by Common) and a deaf assassin was the antagonist’s right hand (played by the ever popular Ruby Rose) help populate this universe with actual threats to Wick. A welcome appearance from Laurence Fishburne, reuniting on screen with Keanu Reeves, set the stage for more adversity in the inevitable Chapter 3.
John Wick: Chapter Two delivers on everything audiences should expect from a sequel to a great action movie. With huge action and a world that could lead to many stories through the lore writers are selectively revealing, this is definitely a welcome franchise that feels like it can never disappoint.
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