When John Wick came out back in 2014, I was pretty uninterested. Keanu Reeves had starred in some great movies over the years, but he hadn’t done anything that would warrant my attention in some time, and the dark tones and action sequences I saw in the trailer felt like just another disposable action movie we’d all forget about until it showed up on Netflix a few months later.
But as is so often the case, I was wrong. The movie successfully accomplished what so many others have attempted to in recent years; it established an entire universe that was as logical as it was fantastic, showing us that Keanu Reeves and a hand gun could somehow make for a better super hero franchise than everything the DC cinematic universe had to offer.
The action sequences were quick-paced and brutal without relying on the Jason Bourne/Transformers film methodology of mixing shaky shots with close angles that relay emotion at the expense of the ability to really follow the scene. The dark tone took itself seriously without rubbing your face in it like Zack Snyder’s repeated attempts at becoming the new Michael Bay. And best of all, it gave us a protagonist we can really root for. John Wick’s deadly calm, pleasant demeanor, and nonchalant way of walking away from scrapes with death gave us a look at the future of action movies: as troubled heroes who are capable of violence mirror our own perceptions of the modern world, and of America’s place within it.
It was because of how genuinely good John Wick was that I was afraid of the sequel. Nothing can ruin a good thing faster than repackaging it for mass marketability, and I feared our second outing with Wick could go the way of the Die Hard franchise – losing its grounding in favor of bigger stunts and wider scope.