John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★

Sometime last year, a clip of Keanu Reeves was making its way around the internet. He was at a gun range, practicing target shooting and tactical weapons handling with handguns, shotguns and rifles. I remember this day because people were passing this clip around, getting excited for John Wick 2. I've been excited for this film ever since.

Ultimately, I was happy with all the action sequences. The homage to Buster Keaton that opens this film tells you all you need to know as a viewer. This is about stunts. This is about action. It's about gun punching.

But, perhaps due to the weight of its own expectations, this sequel didn't quite live up to its predecessor. Perhaps because the first film had the element of surprise playing in its favor, perhaps because it so earnestly believed in the (admittedly small) emotional arc for its protagonist, or perhaps because the depth it had came from Wick, his dog, and his wife, the sequel, with its focus on the rules of the underground world of assassins is just not as compelling. But again, this small complaint is about plot in a movie built to deliver expertly choreographed shooting sequences, so it's a minor point.

This film probably won't rise to the level of love Mad Max: Fury Road received last year. That film, by the end of a crazy cultural and political year, started to seem to some, an action film fit for our political times. But this film, with its adherence to rules, precision, expertise and decorum, could also be fit for our political times.