John Wick’s world is wonderfully upside-down. In it, a dog’s life is worth 76 men. A ’69 Mustang, two dozen more. Humans are cheap and objects are priceless. Cocaine comes wrapped in tiny treasure chests, while magnetic key cards are engraved in platinum. Guns aren’t purchased from a two-bit pawn shop or van; instead, the shooter sits down with a firearm sommelier, who coos, “I know your fondness for German varietals.” Credit cards? How base. Here, everything from a custom three-piece kevlar-lined suit to a gin cocktail is bought with gold coins.
In the rarified surroundings of the Continental Hotel, the VIP club for assassins with flair, Keanu Reeves’s spree killer John Wick isn’t even called John, a name as blunt and basic as a bullet. He’s “Jonathan” to hotel manager Winston (Ian McShane), who in the first film established the Continental’s Curious Code of Ethics: Murder anyone, for any price, anywhere but inside the hotel. Misbehave, as did Adrianne Palicki’s hitwoman when she offed a colleague on his king-size bed, and be excommunicated — and executed.
This shouldn’t concern Wick. He’s retired, or he’d like to be. But as Winston warned last time, “You dip so much as a pinky back into this pond, you may well find something reaches out and drags you back into its depths.” In John Wick: Chapter 2, a title that evokes Old Testament wrath, that something knocks on Wick’s door the minute — literally — he finishes pouring concrete over his verboten stash of guns.