Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 (B) doubles down on the surprisingly solid franchise’s signature nonstop action while expanding the backstory and lore of Keanu Reeves’ eponymous character, a retired hit man seeking vengeance. Who would have guessed this wall-to-wall actioner would go full Godfather 2 and serve up a gracious expanded universe? The acting is pretty sloppy, but the fight choreography is to die for. Full-on action in New York City and Rome lead to a nifty cliffhanger and certainly another sequel.
Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s John Wick (B-) is an exercise in being single-minded of purpose and being pretty successful at it. Keanu Reeves plays the titular hitman whose loss of a loved one triggers a return into an underbelly of crime as he exacts all-out revenge. The co-directors, clearly inspired by anime and martial arts films, bring out the best in their feng shui fighter with the ultimate Reeves performance. Michael Nyqvist and Alfie Allen are delicious villains. The action sequences are solid and the mood and colors of the crime dens are lovingly lit like pages of a graphic novel. Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane and John Leguizamo are among the supporting cast, adding additional pedigree to the killing spree. It doesn’t add up to much, but it’s a good time.