I saw this annnnnd I didn’t really like it too much. Spoilers!
First off, I need to get this off my chest: if you are going to be inducted into the ruling body of a secret society and you’re throwing a big dumb party with a live band, get a band with a live drummer! Seriously, what even were they thinking?
I have to say, the suiting up scene in this one was my first sign that I wasn’t going to be happy with the film. The first movie’s is almost fetishistic, with close ups of John putting on his belt and such. This one has a spy movie montage. Shortly after, there’s the catacomb gunfight which is just awful. It’s bookended by the fight in the crowd and the fight with Common which are both good, but it’s just Wick shooting people. There’s no understanding of the geography or sense of danger, it’s just him shooting a bunch of people in a tunnel (some of which are off-screen). It’s like a PS2 first person shooter up in here. Other than the shotgun reloading bit, it doesn’t even have any memorable gags?
I thought the rest of the movie’s action was fine. The uber for assassin’s bit being the standout of the movie, and the museum bit was pretty solid. Setting the final in a mirror maze is brilliant and it’s hard to mess that up. I do agree with the criticism that the action has become stale. I guess this is the shortcoming of treating shooting people with guns the same way martial arts movies treat martial arts. In a martial art sequel, they bring in some guy who knows muay thai or kickboxing or whatever and have the hero fight against different fighting styles. In shootguns, you can have him fight… someone who shoots guns a different way? I have no idea. The first movie even seemed to recognize this problem, and the bit where he actually kills the guy from Gamathrons is just a bunch of quick cuts and not a real action scene, and then the movie ends on the hilarious scene where he shoots people while drifting in a car. This one has a big long gunfight at the beginning, and then goes back and just has another one. The third one is probably going to go gimmicky with the fights if they’re going to keep this going (like holding a baby or fighting in a mirror maze.)
I don’t think it addressed my main problem with the first film either. It’s often described as a very lean, cut-down action movie, but I’ve always found it a bit of a mess plot-wise. Like there’s a clear line though the beginning of the movie. Dude kills John’s dog, he goes to the hotel to get information, he goes to the club to kill what’s-his-face, he fails, he goes back to the hotel and… A lady punches him in the stitches a bunch and then tells him where to go next. We have no idea what his plan to continue was, and, as far as we know, there just isn’t one? Lucky that chick showed up and told him what to do before doing nothing important the rest of the movie and then dying! A bunch more convoluted stuff happens and then he’s having a big climatic knife fight with a guy he wasn’t mad at originally over a different dead… friend? ‘Dude shoots 70 guys in the head because he’s mad about his dead dog’ is hardly the accurate summary of the movie it’s made out to be. I just forgive it because it’s stylish and fun. This one was less stylish and less fun.
This one’s like, dude blows up John’s house. Does he want to shoot 70 guys in the head over it? It’s… unclear? He is forced to kills some lady he doesn’t want to. Is that why he wants to shoot 70 guys? Like, it’s 30 minutes in this movie I know it’s not about to end. She’s all, ‘That dude is going to fuck a bunch of unspecified stuff up in New York which you don’t want for some reason it’s unclear.’ Is that the reason? Nah, it turns out he got double crossed! By a guy it seemed like he wanted to kill anyways and he doesn’t seem to have any reaction to being double crossed and then he goes back to New York to do… ??? (I assume he knew D’Antonio lives in the museum or whatever, but I must have missed that.) He goes to the hobo king and is like, ‘Hey, will you sneak me into this place that is super hard to sneak into?’ and then he just shows up in the place that’s super hard to sneak into for the second time in the movie (at least the first had some semblance of logistics, even if it involved unsecured tunnels that had a bunch of lights on in them, videogame-torch style.) Like, the first one was convoluted and kind of a mess, but this one is just, ‘I need to kill this person, so I go to where they are and kill them. Oh no, I am betrayed. Now I go to where that person is and kill them.’ He doesn’t have a relationship with the villain in the vein he did in the last one, and he doesn’t have any assassin friends with unclear motivations. The only real interplay between characters in the movie is with Common (and that part is pretty cool.)
I’m not sure how coherent I’m being right now, but, in short, watching the first movie is exciting and I always get pumped up after it ends but this one left me really cold.