Yes, you should watch the first John Wick before you pay money to watch the second chapter.
Now that’s out of the way…
John Wick 2 is a very simple film. It’s simplicity is what makes it very special. There is no deep meaningful character development here. The plot isn’t intricate. The dialogue isn’t groundbreaking. The violence is comically over the top. The acting does, on occasion, cross the hammy line. Even if you consider all of these things to be negatives, I would still recommend this film to you.
Chapter 2 reminds me of the Arnold, Sly and Seagal joints of the 1980s. In fact, the biggest compliment I would give this film and its predecessor is that they would both be at home with classics like Commando, Blood Sport (yes, I consider this a classic) and Cliff Hanger. Many may see this film as another mindless gore-riddled action film, but that would be a lazy critique. This film is bloody minded in its attempt to create a pure action film – something that is rarely seen today.
The fight choreography is so meticulous it is hilarious. Every fight scene feels like a work of art. It doesn’t matter how often you see Keanu Reeves shoot someone in the head, because the next one (and there is always a next one) fills you with the same surprise and deep-seeded (and shameful) joy as the last.
And don’t let anyone convince you that Keanu and co don’t act their asses off, because they do. Yes, they often take it into the realm of overacting, but it absolutely works in the context this film has created. Keanu, in particular, is fantastic in this film and you absolutely believe that he is this legendary killer feared by every assassin on planet earth. Think about that for a moment – Keanu Reeves… FEARED!
Oh, the Laurence Fishburne cameo is a piece of geek-culture perfection. I wasn’t mad at that at all.
It is funny, with the help of Chad Stahelski, the much underrated Keanu Reeves is just one film away from completing one of the most solid trilogies in Hollywood history. Bring on Chapter 3!