There are two very important pieces of information that I must disclose before you continue reading my review of John Wick: Chapter 2. First thing: I fucking loved John Wick. Here’s some evidence of these claims:
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) September 20, 2014
I feel like I’m not giving John Wick enough credit
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) September 20, 2014
They only two #FantasticFest movies that I said were “great” that didn’t involve a “but” were John Wick and Cub. Good job, guys!
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) September 24, 2014
Current mood: John Wick doing donuts on an airplane runway
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) October 9, 2014
It sucks that we have to wait until March for the Oscars to be swept by John Wick
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) November 11, 2014
#OscarSnubs Best Movie – John Wick, Best Dog – John Wick, Best Punching – John Wick, Best Turtleneck – John Wick, Best Ponytail – John Wick
— VVO)))LFMAN (@TheWolfman) January 15, 2015
Get the picture? The other pertinent piece of information: straightforward “action” movies aren’t typically my thing. If they don’t have elements of horror or sci-fi, I have a hard time getting interested, as you might’ve read me complain about before. Both of these two facts could make you completely disregard my opinion, which I would completely understand, but, I mean, this is my blog with my opinions so I don’t know why the hell else you’d be reading this if you didn’t want to know my thoughts. That being said, John Wick: Chapter 2 is rad as hell with wonderfully staged action, but without a murdered dog, I couldn’t get as involved with the hero’s motivations.
New movie! New dog! Good boy!
Having succeeded in his path of revenge against the members of a crime family who murdered his dog, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) aims to return to a quiet life with a new dog, but having reentered the world of assassins, Wick went back on a promise he’s made. The mysterious Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) confronts Wick about a promise they made in blood, forcing Wick to pull off “one last hit” to “finally” leave the world of covert assassins behind. Sadly, things get more complicated for Wick as his mission results in assassins turning their attention towards taking out Wick, often regarded as a “Boogeyman,” putting him on a path which requires him killing anyone in between him and the answers he needs.
Yes, John Wick dresses well yet again, but at one point in the film, he breaks out a tactical turtleneck and I couldn’t stop thinking he was Sterling fucking Archer.
In the first film, an underground organization of cutthroat yet sophisticated assassins operates just out of view of the public, carrying out covert operations in relatively public places without anyone raising an eyebrow. Cops come to Wick’s house but turn a blind eye to dozens of dead bodies, which Wick easily has disposed of by a man inside the organization. There are mysterious coins, neutral locations, and a strict set of rules that these killers adhere to, despite profiting from death. If this secret organization of assassins is intriguing to you, then you will absolutely love John Wick: Chapter 2, as the film doubles down on these organizations to show you new characters, locations, and standards that everyone must follow. However, if you, like me, really only cared about a man seeking retribution for his dead dog, then you’ll find it hard to care about the Wick’s motivations and, ultimately, the whole plot.
Oh shit! How have I not mentioned COMMON is in this?! He is! And he’s a badass!
Other than one opening scene and the concept of this nefarious organization of assassins, this sequel has very little connection to the first film. Every single person in the audience could connect with Wick’s driving mission in the first film, but in Chapter 2, it falls into tropes we’ve seen in other action films before. Does that mean those things are bad? Well, no, not at all. The assassination club is explored further, given more context, and shown more dimensions, but, in my opinion, Wick carried out the mission in the previous film because of emotion, whereas almost everything he did in Chapter 2 was out of obligation. He didn’t do anything in the film because he wanted to, he went through them because he had to. The ending of the first film gave the impression that Wick himself wouldn’t have cared if his mission of seeking revenge had killed him, as his wife and his dog were dead and he had nothing to live for. Sure, Wick has a new dog in this sequel, but it feels like he had little else to live for. Audiences could live vicariously through Wick in the first film, not that anyone wished they could kill people who had wronged him the way he did, but we saw a man pushed over the edge and taking revenge into his own hands. Whether it’s someone who cuts you in line or you overhear something offensive in public, we all wished we could take matters into our own hands to show people how wrong they were for what they did the way we saw Wick demonstrate, but in Chapter 2, Wick spends most of the film on the defensive. The original film glorified violence and you reveled in seeing Wick lash out against his oppressors, but when he has been targeted by other assassins and he’s doing what many of us would do when we feel attacked (by that I mean defend ourselves, not do Judo throws and shoot people in the head), so there’s not as much glee when it’s violence for the sake of survival than for justice.
Oh shit! How have I not mentioned that RUBY ROSE is in this?! Probably because she doesn’t do much more than be an attractive hit-lady with tattoos.
The way firearms were combined with martial arts in the first film was referred to as “Gun Fu” by the filmmakers, who continue to utilize the grace of martial arts with the brutality of bullets. Although the actual combat doesn’t necessarily get heightened to never-before-seen levels, the altercations take place in much more unique and lavish settings. No longer is Wick fighting thugs in abandoned shipyards and loud nightclubs, he’s being hunted through medieval ruins, subway stations, and neon light-soaked funhouses. Many sequences feel more like Italian horror movies than revenge thrillers, something you wouldn’t see in any other big studio action film. If action movies are your thing, John Wick: Chapter 2 gives grace and elegance to an often ridiculed genre, but if you had hoped for emotional stakes that were on par with the previous film, you’ll be left feeling underwhelmed. The film ends in a way that gets me incredibly excited for the next chapter of the John Wick saga, but the story didn’t touch upon what made the first film compelling, and I found it hard to take joy in watching Wick shoot dozens of men in the chest and head for 120 minutes.
Wolfman Moon Scale