John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

In case you don't know it going in, this is the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK of the John Wick Trilogy (Or Whatever It Ends Up Being), as the movie clearly ends setting up JOHN WICK CHAPTER THREE as Wick runs for his life.

Like the first, it is a rock-solid action flick that knows exactly how much worldbuilding to use to tell its story. Unlike the first, it has a much stronger visual sense of story - the major shootout sequences in this one are much more developed than in the first one and convey mood much more sharply than the first.

And what's interesting is that the movie subverts the original's premise, I think, for the better. JOHN WICK is a movie about The Guy Who Got Out Of The Game and has to come back for One Last Round. Perfectly fine; a bit of a cliche, maybe, but still acceptable. CHAPTER TWO makes it clear that Wick was never really out of the game because the moment the powers that be wanted him back in, they would force him back in on penalty of death - and on top of that, the movie ends the way it does because Wick refuses to allow the baddie to use this society's conventions to protect himself indefinitely - sure, Wick wants to murder the baddie, but it's also entirely practical for Wick to do so, because the baddie can just hide out in the Continental forever while he pays assassins to murder Wick until one of them manages to do it. What good are this society's rules to Wick, then?

Basically this movie has a lot of class critique contained within it, which is really interesting and unexpected for a movie one goes to see to see Keanu shoot people in the face as much as humanly possible, and I can't help but think it's setting up a third film, and the beats are pretty clear:

JOHN WICK: Pulled Back Into The World He Wanted To Leave
CHAPTER TWO: Learns He Was Never Allowed To Leave The World In The First Place
CHAPTER THREE: Forces The World To Let Him Leave By Destroying It

That's my hunch, anyway.