John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

A finely-tuned redeployment of everything that worked well in the first film, “John Wick Chapter 2” lacks the initial novelty and delightfully straightforward premise of “John Wick” but is improved in so many other aspects.

The intriguing worldbuilding of the first film is surprisingly important to the story of this sequel, and it remains one of the more unique and enjoyable parts of the series. The antagonist isn’t as interesting or appealing in the sequel, but Ian McShane and Lance Reddick get more to do, as do newcomers Peter Stormare and Laurence Fishburne, so it more or less evens out.

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I appreciated the sequel diving more into the strange aspects of the internal mythology of the series, resulting in some very impressive and colourful visuals. The setpieces are fantastic (Keanu Reeves fighting Common is a highlight) even when the storytelling goes a bit wonky – the wacky mythology of the series is fun, but makes for a less compelling hook than the directness of “I’m killing everyone that killed my dog”.

Action as weird and formally well-executed as this is fantastic to see. I give it three and a half coins and a bowl of dog food.

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