John Wick: Chapter 2 is, of course, the sequel to John Wick, and stars Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Common, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne.
The movie picks up more or less where the first one left off. Having killed the people who killed his adorable little puppy, the "Boogeyman" John Wick (Reeves) is beating up a host of new dudes to get his car back. He does this, making peace with the brother of the boss his killed last time (Peter Stormare, delightfully chewing scenery as always) and then goes home to feed his new dog.
He then gets a visit from Santino D'Antonio (Scamarcio), who represents a faction of assassins, and calls in a marker from Wick. Wick refuses, and so Santino blows up his house. Wick gets no sympathy from his friend Winston (McShane), curator of the New York Continental hotel for assassins; a marker is a marker. Wick, knowing he's fucked, goes to Rome to fulfill the marker - by killing Santino's sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), letting Santino take her seat the High Table. Santino then double-crosses Wick, and he winds up back in New York with every assassin in the place looking for him, including Gianna's now-disgraced security officer Cassian (Common).
On its face, much like the first movie, this isn't much to write home about - it's a dude-killing action movie. But the world-building, oh my goodness. I said about John Wick that it's a great way to envision Vampire: The Requiem, and I think that the sequel gets a little closer to the suspension-of-disbelief-threatening wahoo of Masquerade instead (seriously, how many assassins are there?), but it's still fun to watch. Wick seems to know exactly how much trouble he's in by refusing to abide by the rules of this underworld, but then, the rules still have consequences - Wick ends the movie excommunicado, on the run with his dog, but very clear that he will kill anyone who comes for him.
The fight choreography and production design, as before, are stunning. Ruby Rose's mute bodyguard character is a lot of fun, and I kinda wish she'd had a little more to do before getting stabbed. Common, likewise, is fun to watch as Cassian and I kinda want him to have his own movie (Common, not necessarily Cassian, though heck, I'd watch a movie about him).
I'm looking forward to the third one, and I hope we get to see the High Table and the different factions.
My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium
Next up: Logan