Sunday, 12 February 2017

Review: John Wick Chapter 2

John Wick Chapter (2017) - Chad Stahelski

          What made 2014 John Wick so great wasn't just it's solid directing and well-executed action/stunt work (thought it helped), and it wasn't just our steely hero, Keanu Reeves, being as Keanu-y as possible (thought it helped), and it wasn't even the fact that the movie is a puppy revenge flick (okay that part SERIOUSLY helped). What made John Wick so surprisingly refreshing was how confident it was in all its cinematic sensibilities. It commits to every narrative choice, regardless of how silly it seems, which in turn makes it so much fun to watch. If the movie believes John Wick is as good at killing dozens of faceless henchman then goddamnit, so do I! It's this kind of commitment to prolonged ridiculousness that gets me so off when I watch action movies. And boy does John Wick Chapter 2 double down on the craziness while embracing it so earnestly.
           If John Wick was already a confident film, then John Wick Chapter 2 is the Matthew McConaughey from Dazes and Confused of movies when it comes to but sure of yourself. From the first scene (containing of the smoothest looking and excellent car chase sequences I've ever seen) it takes everything you love about the first movie and adds more flare, mixes it up just enough to make it not just a retread, but still give you all those delicious familiar notes. A huge body count? You betcha. Is there revenge? Hoo boy! Is there a dog? YES, AND IT'S ADORABLE THERE JUST WASN'T ENOUGH OF HIM.
           Starting off not long after the first movie, John Wick is once again dragged back into the murky and compelling (and apparently all-encompassing) international assassin syndicate known through the Continental hotel. The specifics of why he gets back aren't important (blood oaths, markers, more blood oaths), but what is important is the over-the-top and fantastical world building that the movie does this time around. Not just its international locale (how do you one-up the club scene from the first move? Have another club scene, but this time in Italy so the club can be even fucking weirder! Because Italy!), but we delve deeper into the world that Keanu keeps leaving and coming back to and leaving and coming back to. It gives the movie an interesting depth and sprawling nature the first one couldn't possibly have considered. It's a bigger sandbox with more toys but it never loses sight of what's important: namely Keanu flipping countless dudes over and shooting them in the head.
           There's a great fight scene between John Wick and Common's Cassian that culminates with the two of them crashing through the glass of the Italian Continental building, a safe-haven and murder free zone for all contract killers who arrive there. And in there we see the brilliance of the movie, one that can go from two characters trying their best to stab each other (for dessert) one second and forced to drink bourbon and gin with each other the next is funny, a little silly, and all great.
           The movie goes on maybe a hair too long, but with the amount of fun it keeps adding with each new set piece, it keeps it from ever slogging down too much. Towards the end there is an assassin montage scene(s) that is so ostentatiously insane and hilarious that I almost wish it was even longer. The larger scope of the movie, the revealing more of this worldwide killers club plays well into the ending, which while it doesn't offer much in the way closure (not that we need much), it's clearly there to set up even more of John Wick's future puppy-laden adventures.
           And fantastic I say, fantastic! With an entry like this, I could watch these movies happen every year or two until I die. Or until Keanu Reeves does. But have you seen pictures of that dude? He doesn't age. These movies could go on forever. 

Grade: A-

Random Thoughts
  • I want to see an entire movie about the rockabilly tattooed women running the international assassin hot line.
  • Between the scenes with the tailors, the gun-sommelier, and the guy who must've made maps for Indiana Jones, this movie had more of a Bond feel. But then John Wick stabbed a guy in the dick and it all sorta evened out.
  • I could have used more dog. But I can honestly say that about any movie ever.

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