*** (out of four)
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a prime example of a superior sequel. I felt the first John Wick (2014) was just OK but ran out of steam by the final act. This sequel amps up the quirkiness, humor and action to a satisfying degree.
Ex-hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) gets pulled back into the criminal underworld to reluctantly repay a debt. He is ordered to assassinate Gianna D'Antonio (Claudia Gerini), who sits on the high board of international gangsters. Ordering the hit is D'Antonio's snake of a brother, Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), who desperately wants his sister's seat on the board. Anyway, Wick is kind of screwed because no matter what he decides to do there will be a large bounty on his head.
While the unending gun battles can be a little numbing, most of them are well staged in interesting settings – one takes place in underground catacombs and another is in a large room made of mirrors (Did someone see Enter the Dragon?). The funniest scene in the movie is when Wick and a rival assassin (Common) casually shoot at each other in a subway station using silencers on their guns.
As fun as the gun play is here, it just doesn't compare to the lunacy of vintage John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer). If you like John Wick 2, then check those movies out.