John Wick: Chapter 2

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Release: Friday, February 10, 2017

[Theater]

Written by: Derek Kolstad

Directed by: Chad Stehelski

If you are on the fence as to whether you should see what happens to John Wick in a sequel, you should first ask yourself how much of a geek you are for the really technical stuff, like fight choreography. If you aren’t enthused about spending $12 to watch a glorified stunt reel, then there’s really no need to see John Wick: Chapter 2.

Despite appearances, Keanu Reeves isn’t the star here. It isn’t his new pup either. It’s a man by the name of J.J. Perry, controller of chaos and chief architect of silliness whose dedication to providing moviegoers with ridiculously high-octane action sequences is on full display. Perry is billed as stunt coordinator, but it is his passion that gives John Wick purpose; his technical expertise that cleverly disguises Chapter 2 as a brilliant display of martial arts that merely masquerades as a movie.

John Jonathan finds himself dragged out of retirement and clocking back in for another murderous shift when he gets a house call from one Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). In an effort to expand the story to an international stage, Wick must travel to Rome where he takes to the shadowy subterranean stretches of the Catacombs in order to eliminate his target — D’Antonio’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), who is about to take a seat at the High Table, a council of high-level assassins.

Along the way he manages to make more enemies than friends and yet successfully thwarts an onslaught of bullets and daggers at the expense of an increasingly anesthetized audience. Not even The Hulk is this invincible. Or Neo. Or God. It’s the mythos surrounding the character that I really have a problem with. There’s absolutely no tension because John Wick is unassailable. He exists beyond rules, but it’s awkward because the guy is, at least in theory, mortal like the rest of us. There is something “badass” about him, sure, but that’s mostly his choice of wardrobe.

Where Chapter 2 really goes wrong is in its attempts to homogenize John Wick’s killer instinct. In spite of his ability to survive absolutely everything and to leave his assailants with less than nothing, we learn he is actually a part of something larger, that the rogue qualities that defined him in the original were a function of him merely being better at surviving. Chapter 2 tells us Wick isn’t really special. He just gets luckier than the average assassin.

The action may be mindless but it isn’t artless. Quite the opposite in fact. Perry’s knack for simulating natural movement in high-stakes, fast-paced, close-combat settings is pretty incredible. And if it’s not the art of the ass-kick,* then surely it’s the settings in which they take place that lend the film value — some of the most atmospheric and dynamic environments you’ve seen since The Matrix (a totally intentional reference once you find out who the other famous face is here).

Of course, we’re not done yet. Not even close. John Wick: Chapter 3 actually could be an interesting proposition given the events of the finale here. I’m hoping that someone will realize the potential that’s lurking beneath the surface. Something other than the potential to make a lot of money on the back of some impeccably rehearsed dance routines involving guns, knives and fists.

* John Wick gives new meaning to the idea that cigarettes are hazardous to your health, while Heath Ledger’s Joker could learn a thing or two about how to properly wield a pencil

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3-0Recommendation: Absolute mayhem continues in John Wick: Chapter 2. If you were a fan of the first you’ll probably like what comes next even more. For those who weren’t so convinced, well . . . 

Rated: R

Running Time: 122 mins.

Quoted: “You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance. This is justice.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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25 thoughts on “John Wick: Chapter 2

  1. Pingback: Month in Review: February ’17 | Thomas J

  2. Nice review Tom. I thought the first one was a breath of fresh air for the action genre but nowhere near as good as most people call it to be. Moderately excited for this one.

  3. Ah, sorry you weren’t a big fan. I ADORED the first one, and I have seen it so many times in between. In fact, I can see a rewatch soon in my future again. I am so excited about this, but we are only getting it in March, unfortunately.

    • The second is very much more of the same, only amplified. Im sure the wait will be worth it if you enjoyed the original.

  4. I certainly loved the first one as it felt like, finally, a big mainstream action flick filled with close-quarters combat was filmed extremely well. This sounds like more of the same and that is exactly what I’d like! It seems to stick to what it did well, though the character description you talked about… I’m interested to see how that plays out and if it plays a major part. If not, it won’t matter cos it sounds like the ballet of violence is back with vengeance.

    If only I could watch it in a cinema!

    • Yes, very much more of the same. I think what it does well it does REALLY well, but I can’t help but find bits and pieces here and there (in this one as well as the first) where it was just hinting at something bigger and better. Maybe we’ll get that in the inevitable Chapter 3, and hey, maybe we’ll finally have the world’s first “solid” trilogy. 😉

      • hehehe. Yeah I feel ya, the entertainment factor kinda makes up for its flaws in a way, in terms of pure experience. I loved the first, and I’m not the only Australian hassling the Australian arm of Entertainment One. We don’t even have a scheduled date for this thing =/

  5. I’m pretty pumped to see this. Would have already but a stupid stomach virus took me down over the weekend. Whatever, Friday is my time. Movie double feature day. Just need to settle on what my second film will be.

  6. I’ve never seen the John Wick films, but everyone says they’re really good so I might give them a go. Nice review, it’s well balanced with some interesting points.

    • While I think they’re a little one-trick pony, there’s definitely a market for them. And John Wick 2 actually ups the ante on the action, so there’s that. Thanks for reading!

  7. I ultimately gave this one the same grade I did the first. With a gun to my head though, I’d probably go with one over two. But, I had to link to your review in mine, you make a lot of sense about Wick being invulnerable. I feel like that is because this is now pretty much a confirmed trilogy. I think that the filmmakers wanted to show Wick as an unstoppable force. Remember, this movie reportedly doesn’t take place that long after 1, so I think it is feasible to believe that Wick has shaken off his rust.

    Watching the first, no one really knew that this was going to be a franchise, and I don’t think the directors knew until a few months later, so my theory is they went in aiming to have closure in the first just in case, and they did. As such, at least on first viewing, we didn’t know if Wick would survive or not, and he felt more vulnerable to death. But in the second, he’s just about toying with everyone, and we never doubt he’s not going to make it.

    Still, I am excited to see where they go in 3.

    • The best thing about these movies has been the fight choreography. It is really ramped up here in Chapter 2 and it looks like it will be even crazier come Chapter 3. Chapter 3 may very well bring on the apocalypse, based on how these stories have gone so far.

      Thanks for the link.

  8. Pingback: John Wick: Chapter 2: Movie Man Jackson – MMJ

  9. Loved the first one. Doubt I’ll get to the cinema to watch this but its one of the few films that could drag me there, so maybe…
    Like Taken. I found the first film an enjoyable, almost old-style romp, and this looks to be more of the same. Reminds me of that Mel Gibson flick Payback too, which I’d love to give a belated rewatch.

    • Taken at least benefitted from some extreme tension, the very thing John Wick lacks because dammit he’s built stronger than a steel sh*t house. To me there’s basically no point to these movies. But they are pretty fun, I’ll admit.

    • I must admit I accidentally withheld information re: the humorous tone of most of the movie. It definitely at least knows it’s being as silly as possible. I just wish there was some tension to it. Will make a great rental though.

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