During a double feature Sunday, which also happened to be on my birthday (a long long long time ago), I had the pleasure to walk into John Wick: Chapter 2 right after watching Fifty Shades Darker. So having that awful movie fresh on my brain, John Wick had to do some extensive ass kicking to get my mind completely cleansed and ready for the upcoming week. Luckily for me the movie did exactly that and going from a female audience to a male audience felt like going from hell to home.
There is something poetic to the John Wick franchise and that is not only evident on screen but also behind the scenes. For somebody like Keanu Reeves, who will turn 53 this year!, John Wick is like a second coming he always deserved. And there is something admirable about witnessing a veteran actor, in his early fifties, to emerge as an action star in a franchise that makes action movies look cool again! Not to mention the fact that the man behind the camera is also someone who has been in the industry for a long time, getting his big break as a stunt coordinator for Matrix! And whether it’s the friendship between Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski, and their passion for martial arts, but John Wick reads like a poem on screen and the continuity of the franchise allows us to get lost in its flow of movements.
Chapter Two continues where the first one left off, John has kicked some major ass and goes to get his car back. The first scene of the movie features him getting beaten up a lot and wrecking his car pretty badly – it was amazing! Anyway, the conflict of the second movie rises when John is visited by an old colleague, who he made a blood oath to. And since he returned to his old ways (killing and killing a lot), he now broke his promise and has to get back into business, which he really doesn’t want to do, so he declines. That’s where he makes his first of many mistakes since refusing the job has some very serious consequences.
The second movie is definitely a lot bigger in scale but just as violent and bloody. Sure, the violence was at some point the only thing happening on screen, and it all seemed a little too surreal at times but that is kind of the point. In other words, John Wick is like a computer game movie every computer game movie wishes to be – fast paced, violent, emotional and breathtakingly beautiful if you look past the insane body count. It has a very linear story line, constantly moving and with some much needed breaks and pauses, and then just all guns blazing last act all out killing spree. Since it aims to deliver just that, John Wick succeeds greatly at its own task and it doesn’t take itself too seriously to overcomplicate the actual back story. Though it does try to set up an intriguing back story with this boring scene with a lady in a bath, which sounds more interesting than it was, but it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. What matters is the action, which is driven by emotion, and that emotion is still left over from the first movie because John Wick Chapter 2 is not a sequel, it’s simply an act two to the first movie. What I’m trying to say is that if they want to make a computer game based movie/franchise, they should study John Wick from start to finish, because there’s much to learn in terms of story telling and action.
And what John Wick has done is simple, it has stripped down the story elements that are so common to movies while adding a lot more action. If you walked out of the cinema from a John Wick movie, you would remember action, and you would sort of know where John Wick is coming from. But what you don’t really know is who John Wick really is because honestly, two movies in, and I’m still confused by him. He had a wife, he loves dogs and he is very very very skilled at killing people. That is all you know about him, and frankly, that’s all you need to know, because those three back story elements are enough for the franchise to keep him moving from point A to point B. And since, like I said, Chapter 2 is literally act two to the first movie, the plot of the second movie felt even less important. Which you would think is a bad thing… but I didn’t mind it because it would have distracted me way too much from all that ass-kicking.
What is a little disappointing though is the way the movie sets up chapter 3, in other words, it’s third act. Sure, it’s exactly what you would think John Wick would do but part of me is a little hesitant to believe that Wick would purposely put his life at such risk. Like, we know there will be a third movie, but how much more can Wick handle? He is barely able to put any weight on that leg of his.. and you expect him to be ready and killing in an hour? Well, I’m a little hesitant but at the same time, right when the third movie drops, I’ll be seeing it and rooting for Wick all the way! But part of me thinks that with such a lavish premise Chapter Two set for Chapter Three, the third movie is going to be even more out there and I’m not sure how far I’m willing to go without losing that little flicker of believability.
Overall, John Wick Chapter Two is a strong follow up, and even if some would argue that it was not as good as the first, watch it again after Fifty Shades Darker – it will blow your fucking mind! Then again, anything after Fifty Shades Darker would be better but for the purpose of this review, let’s say only John Wick can bring me back from a comatose state of mind by killing a huge amount of people.