John Wick is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was simple, but executed perfectly. I just saw Chapter 2 and after the first scene, I started getting scared that it would be a very poor follow up.
Why? Because it retreaded on the first one in a way that wasn't clever, insightful, nor funny as it tried to be. The head-opposition of the first movie was the father of the 'bad guy', head of a Russian mob. In Chapter 2, it starts off showing the brother of said head boss, speaking in a bad Russian accent. He says, literally word for word, the exact same thing about John that Viggo (head boss in the first movie) said to his son. John is dangerous, he's a man of focus and so on. Even the pencil part makes a return.
I was not enjoying it. I wanted Chapter 2 to push things forward, not retread on the first movie and follow its major developments beat for beat. It seemed like this was doing that.
The opening is absolutely terrible. Any plot development was shit, any action scenes were pretty boring. This made me feel bad about the prospect of the rest of the movie, which made every sequence even more upsetting. Luckily, the opening is more apt to a closure of the first movie. John makes peace with the Russians and then Chapter 2 really starts.
It started getting good. There were some minor moments of retreading in the rest of the movie, but they were more referential than major plot points. Chapter 2 started elaborating on the mythology of the assassins. The continental, the rules; of which a new one was introduced: the Marker. Where the first movie showed glimpses of a vast underground network of assassins and the code by which they live, its central story was revenge and it stuck with it. Chapter 2 digs deeper into that code and a lot of the inner workings are laid bare, to great satisfaction.
I went from being uncomfortable during the opening, to clinging to my seat. Not only does Chapter 2 portray a very interesting world and shows you what you hoped you would see, it manages to do it while still maintaining its core of action sequences in the same style. Clean, long shots without shake cam or ridiculous quick cuts. Emphasis on target acquisition, realistic reload times and positioning. You can once again count bullets if you want. It outdoes the first movie quite easily, though I found the 'god armor' a bit much and there are a few scenes that are a little too conveniently played out.
Nevertheless, I thought Chapter 2 was more than a worthy follow up. It made me extremely excited about that universe. It is also the most 'gunporn' movie I've ever seen, but it manages to do it in a good way. That ending is also pretty great, although... seriously... is every damn person on the planet an assassin?