John Wick: Chapter 2 is the sequel to the 2014 hit, which stars Keanu Reeves as the titular hitman, who gets brought out of retirement when his dog is killed and his car stolen.

And now he’s back in this sequel, where John learns that coming out of retirement, even for a personal vendetta isn’t without its consequences. He forced back in when a marker, a bond of a favour, is called in Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) an Italian crime lord. So rather than just being John Wick in a simple revenge mode, we get to see him as the prepared assassin we heard about in the first film. Also whilst the first film didn’t really have anything groundbreaking in terms of story, this one does go to some places that I just didn’t see coming. It avoids the classic sequel problem of just remaking the same film as the first, instead offering a film that feels like both a continuation of the first story, and its own stand-alone film.

Because of the brilliant groundwork done by the first film in establishing the character of John Wick and introducing the world of the Continental, this film was able to get right into the action. And it really built on the platform that the first film laid down for it, taking the mysterious assassin world and opening up more for us to see. We get to delve deeper into the workings of the continental, more of the services they offer, and rather than just confining it to New York we get to see more of the global reach of this society. We also get to see some of the politics of the world, without it ever becoming dull. It’s such a fantastic world that I love seeing more of, and can’t wait to dive back into in any future sequels.

Director Chad Stahelski is one of the biggest assets that the film has. His background as a stuntman and then stunt coordinator has given him a great insight into how to direct great action sequences. He doesn’t use the quick cuts that have become too common in order to make the sequences look fast paced and exciting without having to put great skill into them. Stabelski on the other hand brings fantastically choreographed, exciting, and brutal action sequences. Not only is the action fantastic, but the film also look stunning, the lighting is brilliant, and the work from cinematographer Dan Laustsen cannot be overlooked here. There is one action sequence in particular surrounded by mirrors that is one of the most visually impressive action scenes ever.

The returning cast is great. Keanu Reeves is a great action star, and he can genuinely deliver the action, even though he’s in his 50s. With Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Lance Reddick also returning there are a few of the great supporting characters back. But there is also a whole host of new people in this world. As well as Riccardo Scamarcio’s character, we also get introduced to Laurence Fishburn’s New York based crime lord (and it’s nice to see him and Reeves back together for the first time since The Matrix). There are a whole host of other hitmen and assassin’s, with the principle two played by Common and Ruby Rose. All of these characters feel like they belong in the world from the first film, but are also new and bring something fresh.

John Wick: Chapter 2 not only manages to bring back the stylish and brilliantly choreographed action of the first film, but it also expands the brilliant world of the film as well as delivering a story that follows on well from the first film, without just rehashing it. John Wick is one of the finest new action franchises, and this second installment might be even better than the first.