The first film was co-directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. Chad now goes solo in the sequel since David is directing Ryan Reynolds in the sequel of “Deadpool”. Keanu Reeves in the title role has never been more energized since he did “The Matrix” series. In the first film, it’s established that Wick is a former hitman who shuns his violent life after he got married, but his wife dies from terminal illness, then the son a Russian kingpin steals his beloved vintage Mustang sportscar and kills the dog his wife left him as a souvenir, so he goes on rampage to get back at the son and his father.
The sequel starts where the first film has ended. Wick gets back his car from the brother (Peter Stormare) of the kingpin and single handedly decimates all his men. Yes, he also gets a new dog and it’s safe this time. Then, a new mobster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), visits him unexpectedly and asks him to work for him again. He has made a blood oath to Santino and when he turns him down as he’s already retired, Santino blows up his house into smithereens.
He then goes to Santino to ask what his mission is for him. The kingpin wants him to liquidate Santino’s own sister, Gianna, so he can have complete control of their Italian empire of crime. Wick complies and goes to Rome to kill the sister, only to find out that after he has accomplished his mission, Santino has ordered his own men to kill him right away. Wick manages to get away but Santino puts a huge bounty of $7 million on his head and soon, the best bounty hunters of New York are all out to kill him.
The film runs for more than two hours but the action is relentless so you won’t get bored. The mayhem-filled action set pieces are really bigger and better (take note of the shootout in Rome’s catacombs and the climactic gunfight in a house of mirrors). Keanu gives a very intense and focused performance and he gets good support from Franco Nero, Ian Mcshane (as the manager of the Hotel Continental for criminals), Laurence Fishburne (his partner in crime in “The Matrix”), Common (as a rival with whom he has a showdown inside a subway train no less), and Ruby Rose as Santino’s trusted mute henchwoman (this Australian actress is really quite busy these days as she’s also in “XXX Return of Xander Cage” and “Resident Evil, Final Chapter” and the TV series “Orange is the New Black”).
The final sequence is a tease, with Keanu running for life with his dog in Central Park while more bounty hunters are trying to track him down. It’s clearly setting up what happens next and a sure indication that John Wick will be back in Chapter 3 for more of this fun cartoonish hitman franchise that doesn’t really take itself too seriously.