You'd think that after making The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions - retrospective feeling: four-plus hours of 'Am I the one? Yes, you are the one' - Keanu Reeves would have his fill of follow-ups for the rest of his natural. But a box office hit, an iconic character and the career rebound that came from 'doing a Taken' and rediscovering his action hero smarts at 50 meant a John Wick sequel was as irresistible as it was inevitable. 

Getting to the heart of the matter

Thankfully, it's better and less, eh, up itself than those Matrix misfires but, as is the norm in these matters, it's not as good as the original.

A brilliant opening (the best bit of the whole shebang) serves up gun, suit and car porn before haunted hitman Wick (Reeves) returns to his Dermot Bannonesque des res and puts the tools of the trade back in the hole in the basement floor. 

But the cement is barely dry when there's a knock on the door. A marker is called in; Wick refuses to honour it and so begins another lone wolf odyssey - this time with Wick raising hell in Rome.

We needed more of the Dog with No Name

That trip to the Eternal City means that Wick has to leave the Dog with No Name back at home in New York, and his absence is symptomatic of a revenge redux that doesn't play to its strengths. 

While John Wick worked so well because the wit, charm and tension matched the body count, Chapter 2 is short on all three and too hung up on fun but forgettable end-of-level-boss encounters. He's an awful man for shooting fellas with their own guns.

We needed more of Common as Cassian

Even before the hour mark the film has become too predictable and while Reeves gives it socks, his mirror-in-the-attic magnetism and unique gift for making an eight-course meal out of every line can only go so far. Here, less bang-bang and more banter with co-stars Ian McShane, Franco Nero, Common (building strongly on his Run All Night cred), and, of course, (hit)man's best friend was the way to go. Rome also deserved to be a bigger character.

The story returns to New York for a Fight at the Musuem finale where Wick is tasked with settling scores with just seven bullets. It's a pity that wasn't his allocation for the entire movie.

Harry Guerin