I have to admit that the first JOHN WICK kind of flew in under my radar. Sure, I’d seen the trailers and TV spots, but it wasn’t something I had ran to the theater to see. Then it hit Blu-ray and I instantly regretted not seeing it on the big screen. It was a mistake I wouldn’t make a second time.

Heading into JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 I had some concerns. Would the incredible action come off as stale in a second outing? Would they be able to expand on the world they only briefly hinted at? The first film built off of such raw emotion that we were immediately sucked into a deluge of rage and revenge, and we relished every kill, every visceral payback we witnessed. How would they be able to work with that again? How could they top that emotional kick in the balls?

The answer: they didn’t, and rightly so. The second installment of the JOHN WICK series picks up a mere four days after the ending of the first film. The poor guy seriously needs a vacation. Believing that vengeance has been served, Wick thinks he and his new friend “good dog” are in for a quiet existence. We get a few moments of heaviness when we realize that this is the first real deep breaths Wick gets since the beginning of the last film’s story, and he’s beginning to realize it as well, as short-lived as it is.

We get our first new look at the codes and rules behind the world Wick left behind when he’s visited by an old acquaintance, someone he owes a favor to. Someone who insists that he dives headfirst back into the world of death and destruction. We learn that there are some debts in that world that no one can get out of without serious consequence, and as much as Wick wants to refuse, he finds himself in the middle of a job that could change the assassin world forever.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 gives us more of exactly what we want. The action is more intense, the gunfights louder and longer, fists and feet get wilder and the chases more over the top. And yes, there are pencils. Thanks to videos of Keanu Reeves training for the film, we believe his abilities even more, and you can tell that there are few actors who work harder for their characters. The film just looks bigger in all ways, from car chases to exotic cities, huge set pieces that reflect a successful film that allowed more money to be pumped into its sequel.

The other thing that really set the first film apart was the introduction to the world of the Continental. We got just enough of a glimpse of that shadow world that we were sent clamoring for a better look, and that’s just what we get. From New York to Rome, we see not only how deep this assassin’s network sprawls, but just how influential and renowned the infamous John Wick really is. We don’t get all of our questions answered, but we see enough of this other world that we’re satisfied. For now.

Keanu Reeves seems to flourish the best when he plays the dark, quiet type, a trait that seems to fit perfectly with the character of John Wick. While it doesn’t necessarily suffer for it, CHAPTER 2 relies less on the pure emotional drive and more on the professional motivations of the world Wick has tried to forget completely. For some, the motivations may not drive the plot as well as the first, but the tonal shift manages to sustain itself.

Because there are different stakes, some people may find that the wall-to-wall violence and action pieces may run together a little bit, as there may be just a few breaths between some of the film’s many fight sequences. The constant deaths and beat downs may mean less in the long run, though fans of the series and the battles that come with the films will relish in the more intricate displays of gunplay and hand-to-hand combat.

In short, if you were a fan of JOHN WICK, you’ll more than likely enjoy this outing and be drawn into the world of “gun-fu,” but if you didn’t enjoy the original outing, there probably will be little for you here. In the end, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 delivers more of what fans loved in the first film: more kicking ass from the world’s deadliest assassin and a deeper exploration and understanding of the world he is a part of. One can only hope that they continue that tradition should they decide to continue the series, something that Reeves and others have expressed great interest in.

Previous articleNew Line Vows To Release ‘Conjuring’ Spinoff, ‘The Nun’ July Friday The 13th 2018
Next articleMystery Science Theater 3000 Finally Gets a Comic Deal Via Dark Horse