Resuming where chapter 1 left off, ‘retired’ assassin John “Baba yega” Wick (Keanu Reeves) gets his car back and thinks he can resume his civilian life until Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up to cash in a favour. Initially refusing, Wick reluctantly accepts the assignment to travel to Rome to take out D’Antonio’s sister in John Wick 2.
Fresh off of the heals of its neo noir action spectacular John Wick (2014), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) starts off in high gear from the start as John breaks his ways into Tarasov’s (Chapter 1’s villain) brothers organisation, taking it out singlehandedly, to get his car back and barely slows the pace from there.
Indeed, John Wick is not a man you want after you, a man of pure dedication, perseverance and tenacity and what follows is a symphony of high octane car chases, gritty choreographed fisticuffs and a brutality generally overlooked in the disaster porn we see these days.
Thinking that he can just settle back into his old life, mourn his dead wife and build a life with his unnamed new dog, John is pulled right back into the centre of this deadly world with a debt to repay to the man that helped him get out in the first place, Santino.
D’Antonio, whose family have 1 of 12 seats at the high table, wants John to kill his sister who inherited the coveted seat so that he may succeed her. Forced to repay a debt (literally), John accepts and makes his way to Rome but as it turns out, like most movies of this ilk, the mission brings a new host of deadly issues and backstabbing that John must escape to survive and so begins an adrenaline fuelled cacophony of action sequences, drinks at the continental and negotiations to stop D’Antonio taking New York and killing John Wick.
Evidently, John Wick 2 is not a new concept and indeed, a story that has been told numerous times in film, television and print. However, the real MVP’s that make this movie so compelling are its lead (Keanu Reeves), the direction and action sequences beautifully crafted by its director and co and a mythology and lore.
Keanu Reeves is immense with his cold, brutal and unflinching persona that is time and again pushed back into a world that made him the quiet, stoic man he is today. With no other choice but to launch himself back into this world, he jumps headfirst, takes literally no prisoners and delivers on why they refer to him as the “Baba Yega”.
More so than that, fans of the original will love how much the director (Chad Stahelski) and writer (Derek Kolstad) have fleshed out the mythology and lore of this deadly yet intriguing world of assassins in John Wick 2. With time spent on the details, characters (like map makers, body armour tailors and homeless assassin checkpoints), rules of this ancient organisation, by the end of you are so fascinated that you want to live within it yourself.