I have many thoughtsSo, John Wick Chapter 2 was FINALLY released in Australia, only a week ago, only 3 months later than the US and I went to see it.
The first John Wick movie is a masterpiece. It is ultra-violent, but the violence is focused and always serves a purpose; it's part of the storytelling and is not simply there to add "bang" to the movie.
Just as important to the movie are the silences in-between. The first action sequence where John Wick reveals himself as "The Boogeyman" doesn't take place until 25 minutes in and the second sequence doesn't happen until 50 minutes in and those silences are used to develop John Wick as a character and the world he exists in. Without these silences, the movie would be a lesser creation.
The second John Wick movie doesn't have those silences.
The first violent sequence starts immediately, but the entire sequence is simply a nod to the events of the first movie. "Look," it shouts, "everyone is scared of John Wick" but of course, we knew that, it's the premise of the movie.
The bad guy in the movie is fine; he's there to draw John back into his role as The Boogeyman and John doesn't want that, he wants to retire in piece, again. However, we've just seen John kill a dozen people to "tidy up" the previous movie - so it all feels a bit forced.
Then we stumble from action sequence to action sequence, but unlike the first movie, these don't feel focused and they don't feel like they are an essential part of telling the story of the movie, but just "colour" for the idea that this is an "action" movie.
The action sequences in John Wick 2 take place outside of the contained "assassins" world of the first movie and start affecting the general public, but extras involved in these scenes are far too distracting. One particular sequence takes place in a subway carriage, and all I thought while watching was "there is no WAY those other passengers would just SIT there while two men try to kill each other"; they didn't even look scared!
The story lacks the "inevitability" of the first movie. John's actions and those of his adversaries, in the first movie, are dictated by their very natures, and that is part of the tragedy that's told. In the second movie, this imperative is missing, and the driver that sends John back into the underworld are not significant enough.
John's final choice (which could possibly lead to a third movie) doesn't feel true to the character, given the set-up of the rest of the story. It feels like a petulant last act, rather than a decision he was forced into, despite the consequences.
So, in summary - John Wick 1: perfect movie. John Wick 2: not what it could be by a long way.
Now, go and watch this EXCELLENT evaluation of John Wick by Movies with Mikey.