Friday, February 10, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)


I just re-watched the original John Wick in preparation for the sequel and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Dredd and Fury Road, similarly old fashioned action flicks. Both of those movies have a lot in common with John Wick's fictional universe, the world-building of which is more suggestive than fleshed out. The fact that the sketchy people who live there have their own laws and currency makes the setting fascinatingly mysterious, much like Wick himself. Yet my favorite thing about the movie is that when characters say things like, "John's not exactly the boogeyman... he's who you send to kill the boogeyman," you don't snicker as you would in a movie which takes itself too seriously.

The entire point of John Wick is to entertain. As is such, a lot of it is style over substance, but it's not all style, and unlike Tony Scott's Domino era there's not so much style it resembles a music video more than a movie. I think what I'm saying is John Wick is a damn near perfect film for my particular tastes. Besides, aren't you getting sick of little goody two-shoes like Jason Bourne and all the other PG-13 action heroes?

In the first film, a grieving John Wick murdered everyone even remotely connected to the death of his puppy, which was his deceased wife's final gift to him. At the end of the movie he broke into an animal shelter and stole a pit bull, then walked off into the sunrise. And when Chapter 2 comes along, it's really good to see John Wick and that pit bull are still together, even though you can estimate the dog's plot armor around 50%... 75 if you don't believe they'd kill two dogs in the same franchise and somewhere around 25 if you remember how graphic the first dog slaying was... that long streak of blood was some fucked-up shit, after all.

Chapter 2 expands on the same criminal underworld as seen in the first movie, this time revealing the existence of a blood contract signed by Wick sometime before the events of the first film. The beneficiary of the contract has complete control over Wick, and Wick will never be free until he performs an impossible task. When Wick politely asks for the deal to be rescinded, his house explodes, which leads you to wonder what else he'll get taken from him.

So here was my worry going into the movie: nobody wants to see John Wick put through as much hell as he was put through in the first movie. Yet if they don't put him through the ringer, would we lose the satisfaction of seeing him shoot dozens of people in their faces and heads? As it turns out, they don't put Wick through the same level of shit they put him through in the first movie... at least not up front. (Let's just say—extremely vague spoiler—he doesn't exactly walk into the sunrise at the end this time.) There's a slower burn leading to Wick's ultimate melting point, but the action scenes are no less exciting. In fact, they're a little more creative this time around, which you'll see during the very first stunt sequence of the movie.

And holy shit this movie is beautiful.

If you're a fan of the original film, you're almost certainly going to like this one just as much if not more. I don't think I've been this pumped up since I saw Fury Road. If you want them to keep making these kinds of movies for adults, then go see it instead of whatever other bullshit they've got coming out right now. Hell, see it twice.

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