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[Movie Review] John Wick 2 (2017)

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Plot Summary: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

Director: Chad Stahelski

Writer: Derek Kolstad

Runtime: 2hr 2min

Main Cast:

  • Keanu Reeves as John Wick
  • Ian McShane as Winston
  • Ruby Rose as Ares
  • Common as Cassian
  • Lance Redick as Charon
  • Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King
  • John Leguizamo as Aurelio

Review: by Mia

The story of John Wick was a simple one, covered thoroughly in the first film: Wick is a grieving widower with only material things to remember his loving wife by and a new puppy to fill part of the gaping hole in his chest with. In walks bad guy burglars, member of the city’s reigning Gangster Family included, and one death of an innocent puppy and theft of an assassin’s car later, we are watching John Wick tear through the city with revenge on his mind. In the beginning of Chapter 2, John Wick is just wrapping up his mission for revenge. He retrieves his prized car and returns back to his home to return to his happy retirement. We see that he has a new dog and that he is still hoping to live out his grief in privacy. He seals up the scary hole in his basement with death dealing weapons and currency and tries to pretend his month has been nothing but the usual.

Unfortunately, returning to the world he left behind comes back to bite him. John Wick owes favors to sociopaths in big places and one arrives on his doorstep looking to cash in on his debt. When Wick decides he’s once again had enough of the life and ignores the debt he owes for Santino D’Antonio’s help getting out of the business, D’Antonio blows up his home and burns everything that he shared with his late wife to the ground. Still, it is made clear to Wick by key players in this assassin world that the only way to get payback and survive is to settle his debt before going after revenge (again).

John Wick returns to the criminal underworld and we get to see all the cool perks of being the greatest hitman ever known: super bulletproof suits, a gun shop that could rival Martha’s Vineyard in service, access to the best information for planning an assassination right down the street from your penthouse suite at the grandest assassin hotel one could ever dream of… John Wick left behind a world that is both extravagant and dangerous. There isn’t a moment where he isn’t trying to stay alive and killing two dozen others in the process. He completes his assignment from Santino D’Antonio and then targets the man himself, all while surviving as every hitman in New York City turns against him, especially Cassian, guardian of the person Wick is sent to kill while on his debt assignment.

Two hundred useless deaths later, and we’re faced with the true challenge of all challenges for John Wick: the entire criminal underworld turns against him, including his own allies, after he breaks the cardinal rule and kills on neutral ground.

What I Liked:

The Cinematography of this film was impressive. From lighting to sound effects to camera angles, the entire film was action packed and filmed in a way to best impact the audience. Right from the start of the film, you’re immersed in the chaos that is John Wick on the move. The tone is set and the message is clear: don’t get in his way if you want to live.

The chemistry between John Wick (played by Keanu Reeves) and Cassian (played by Common) is a pleasant surprise. This is my first time seeing Common in a major role like this and I think he passes as an actor who can carry himself in an action film. It helps that the action between the two is full of humor. Their fights are intense and deadly and leave the audience wondering how injured they both can get before someone dies, but even through this intensity you’re laughing at the absurdity of their assassin antics.

The film also did an outstanding job at world building. I left the theater wishing that they would take the different details that they introduced to us and throw us into a video game where we could really explore the different ideas such as the currency they use in the underworld, the rules that all the hitman seem to know, the sort of underworld beneath the underworld where an entire group of hitman follow a believed dead former member of Wick’s world. It was all interesting and easily expandable. I hope to see more from either the John Wick Television Series confirmed for production in the future, or from a movie sequel (but again, I would definitely buy the game).

What I Didn’t Like:

Despite the thrill of watching John Wick possibly find a peer in skill in Cassian, the conclusion of their head to head is anticlimactic. Maybe the writers were hoping to leave things open-ended, which wouldn’t be surprising since the end to the actual film is extremely open ended, but I still found the final scene between the two killers lacking after all the buildup and anticipation that led to their final fight.

I did not like the ending. John Wick is essentially given an unreasonable head start to escape what is coming after him while fresh from a week long battle against the entire criminal underworld. It’s exhausting and felt like a lazy wrap up to an intense and impressive plot. This is one of Keanu Reeve’s best films, but he is also still Keanu Reeves. His lines can fall flat and his face muscles haven’t moved since Johnny Mnemonic (1995).

Images Courtesy of IMDB

 

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