I pretty much tell everyone that John Wick was one of the best action movies in the past fifteen years.  The first film is incredible.  It is truly bad ass.  It should have been a monster hit for Keanu Reeves but luckily, even though it just did decent at the box office, word of mouth got many people to see it.  When a sequel was announced I was very excited.  When the trailer hit I was even more excited.  I’ve been excited before though…and been disappointed.

I’m just back from being away but before I left I watched John Wick to get into the groove so when I returned I could go see the film.  I love the film’s world.  The mysterious way it works.  The rules involved for the assassins.  And how truly bad ass John Wick was.  It is fantastic.

All over the Netherlands I’d run into advertising for the film and the posters were fantastic.  One late night I turned on the TV as the movie was starting – even better it was in English and not Dutch.  So I got to watch the first film twice in a matter of days.  How could they come up with a story to beat the first?  Can they pull it off?

The answer is yes they can pull it off.  The story that they come up with is pretty fantastic but it also bogs down the film’s first 50-60 minutes.  This one has an actual story.  It starts off with a pretty fantastic action sequence and then it gets into the plot.  The plot then plays out as it takes you to a different location (Rome) though the world for assassins is still very much alive in this neck of the woods.

The film has Wick being called upon by Italian crime lord Santino.  Wick owes him a debt and, at first, he decides not to pay this debt to the man.  That actually ends pretty badly for John so he decides to do the job.  However the repercussions of killing this person for Santino will affect not only John but his entire shadow world.  It basically fucks him.  Even knowing this he agrees to do the job.  And when he gets the job done he finds himself now being hunted by every assassin from Italy to America with not many friends to help him.

Luckily once the plot is out of the way the film brings some intense action that is even better than the first film.  I heard Keanu trained like hell for this role and prefers to do much of his own stunts (even driving).  The man is in his fifties now and is still able to kick major ass on-screen.  This is 15 years after the Matrix and he looks better than ever.  And this is someone who was learning kung-fu from Yuen Woo-Ping!!!

The first film didn’t have any major adversaries for John.  There was one guy who was part of the Russian crew who took him on in the nightclub and won but besides him Wick (mostly) just took on everyone. Willem Dafoe did help him a bunch.  There’s not much help for Wick this time out.

This time the adversaries are other assassins and they are pretty bad ass.  Common plays one of the assassins who gets a major grudge against Wick and has to take him down.  For Common its personal.  Common is one hell of an actor.  I mean the guy is a great rapper but I’ll be damned if he’s not ten times the actor.  And that is saying something.  This is the man who did Electric Circus and Be.  I’ve been saying for many years that Common should be cast in EVERYTHING.

Ruby Rose plays Ares, a deaf assassin who is just an asskicker.  Ruby had already impressed me with her role in XXX: Return of Xander Cage but her performance here is incredible.  At times she was so bad ass I even wanted her to succeed in killing John Wick.  It can be fun to root for the “bad guy” and in a movie that is mostly all men Ruby is the one you want to see the most.

Peter Stormare shows up as a Russian mafia boss and his part was small but nice.  It was a bit funny.  Actually there was a number of times that the audience laughed during this film.  I’m not sure if the humor is intentional (I’m sure it is) but it works for the film.  It’s not trying to get laughs but you just laugh at the situations.

Peter Serafinowicz plays a small role as The Sommelier working in Rome’s Continental Hotel.  Instead of wine he is servicing the guests with guns and knives.  Seeing Peter in this film brought a smile to my face.  I can’t wait to see more of him when Amazon finally gets The Tick Season One up for streaming.  And, off topic, can we can a Spaced Series 3?  Seriously Simon Pegg…stop writing Star Trek movies.  I want more Daisy and Tim.  And Duane Benzie.

Everyone made a big deal of Laurence Fishburne being in this film and how it is a Matrix reunion.  I think the last time I enjoyed Laurence in a film was the first Matrix movie.  After that…I didn’t like his career.  I loved his movies from the 80s and 90s…but not much now.  Luckily he’s not in this movie for long so I didn’t have to watch him stink up this movie (his performance did stink it up a tiny bit…I will not lie).

The film brought many of the characters back from the first film including Ian McShane’s Winston, John Leguizamo’s Aurelio, and Lance Reddick’s concierge character Charon.  Plus a few others too.  It’s nice that they bring them back, that they are essential to the plot, that you want to see them back, and they don’t overuse them.  I find that important in sequels.  Bring characters back for a reason and don’t feel like they need to be shoved in.

Gripes?  Not many.  Again actually telling a story this time around and doing more world-building caused for a bigger film.  Bigger film and a longer run time.  It picks up by the second act and doesn’t let go.  But beyond the beginning sequence (which was amazing) you have to wait a bit for the kickass parts to start.

The ending totally reminded me of Enter The Dragon times 100.  That is always a good thing.

Best part?  The way they set this movie up is that it needs a sequel.  They can’t just leave the franchise with the ending of Chapter Two.  Now there NEEDS to be a Chapter Three.  Luckily the film did great at the box office this weekend so hopefully that means we will get a trilogy.

Keanu doesn’t do many sequels.  He did one for Bill and Ted and it was amazing.  He did the Matrix sequels and they were horrid.  He stayed away from the Speed sequel and that was a wise move.  After being burned by the Matrix sequels I was hoping that this John Wick sequel wouldn’t stink.  I’m glad it didn’t.  I am really, REALLY looking forward to a John Wick Chapter Three.  It is a great thing to immediately leave the theater and want to see another film.  It means they did a fine job.

I can’t wait to see this movie again.  This may be one of the rare movies I actually see twice in theaters.  It is that fun.  My only recommendation?  Watch the first one before seeing this one.  Trust me – it won’t be overkill.  You may enjoy it that much more.

RANK: A-