Warning, this post contains spoilers from the movie ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’.
I’ve gotta be honest with you here… I didn’t really think much of John Wick Chapter 1 the first time I watched it. At the time it was a friend recommending a bunch of B-list movies we’d never seen, so we just did a marathon of stuff. I remember John Wick being mostly “Oh that was pretty cool shooty Keanu there.” and not feeling enough about it to be totally mind blown (which seemed to be what happened to the entirety of the internet). John Wick started out for me as one of those movies that you watch once just to say you’ve seen it and then really have no intention on going back. Not that it was bad… at all, don’t get me wrong on that, It was just another male superspy action film. Around then, cinema was saturated With Jack Ryan, Jack Reacher and a bunch of other movies where the main dude’s name begins with the letter J.
When they announced the sequel, not a lot of hype exploded from my hype organs. But we decided to sit down and give JW another shot just to recap (and remember the plot). Goddamn. Chapter 1 is so good on repeat viewings. The action scenes don’t become any less enjoyable the more times you watch it, the performances are top of the line awesome (we love you Willy D) and the feels train still leaves the station every time his puppy dies. I would totally go on a gun toting rampage if some guy killed a puppy in front of me like that, no question.
So the sequel. It kicks off straight after the first one ends by answering the question as to what the hell John Wick did about his stolen Wickmobile in Chapter 1. It was a question the first film never answered and something nobody even realised they should have been questioning for literal years. Mad props to Peter Stormare here, the true treasure of this franchise. He reminds us that Wickyboy can murder guys with pencils (flashbacks to The Dark Knight) and drives home perfectly what an intense legendary badass Reeve’s character is. John wrecks the shit out of his super special car for a photo of his wife… because ok.
The mythos of the secret order of ninja gunkata assassin bros expands fairly rapidly here. Wick tries to rebury the thing he makes a fortune out of doing (and is pretty much the only thing he has left to live for). He prefers to spend his time brooding and taking care of his suddenly gigantic dog when a mysterious European stranger calls. Blood contracts? So John has to do a thing for a guy because this guy did a thing for him that is partially mentioned and not explored 100% in Chapter 1. If he doesn’t do the thing, then assassins will be after him for not doing the thing. Sure, straight to the point and easy to follow. But no, says Wick, “I will not be your super assassin and live in 5 star hotels sleeping with beautiful femme fetales. I must brood over my dead wife for another movie”. The guy blows up Wick’s house and torches all his wife memorabilia because ‘no’ is a synonym for “feel free to murder me”. The adventures of ‘Assassin and Pup’ continue. Side note here… how did John Wick survive that… seriously…
John Wick eventually ends up having to do the thing the guy wants anyway, which is to kill the guy’s sister. The guy want’s his sister six feet under because he’s really peanut butter and jelly for her cushy assassin managerial job. The preparation for murder begins.
< INSERT INTERLUDE OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND VACATIONING HERE >
There’s a really awesome segment which is essentially Wick shopping around for gear. It’s kind of like watching a video game character haggle with merchants and spending in-game currency… but for realsies. The assassination mission itself is very, very well shot it has to be said. The nuanced performance of the victim makes her just interesting enough to demand more of her… even though y’know, she bites it. You really wanna know who she is, where she comes from, how does she already know the Wickster? Movie says “No! I must action scene instead!” More goddamnit more, I know she’s dead but you can’t just wave boobies at us like that, Chapter 2!
The shooty in John Wick 2 is just as shooty in John Wick 1, maybe even more so, as our protagonist meticulously picks off dozens of trained militia. The stunt department performed miracles here, and super praise goes out to Keanu Reeves for working like a madman to make the did-his-own-stunts action realistic. Go to youtube after you’ve read this and look up some of Reeve’s training, sheeeeeesh. Anyway, after this Wick gets betrayed by the guy he’s doing the contract for, which makes no sense when you really think about it. What the hell does this guy think he has to gain by crossing the Wickmeister?
Agent Smith puts a hit squad out on Neo. There’s some ultra intense scenes of just assassins trying to straight up murderdeath him in the street as he gets progressively more wounded and fucked up. He get to murder some guys with a pencil, so the movie is instantly worth every second up until this point. One more side note… HOW MANY GODDAMN ASSASSINS ARE THERE TO JUST RECOGNISE HIM IN THE STREET LIKE THAT?!
Morpheus shows up and refuses to give Neo “Guns, lots of guns”, for revengeance against mighty Contractman (comic book movie pending). John Wick goes to a place and wipes out Contractman’s henchmen in Enter The Dragon’s house of mirrors. Ruby Rose dies here…I think. Then he goes to another place and kills the dude in a restaurant he’s not allowed to kill people in…which is crazy thinking that he should be allowed to kill people anywhere at all. This action means JW gets thrown out of the assassins order… something he didn’t want to even be a part of for 2 movies worth of content now… and the movie ends with Ezio and Altair chasing him and his dog.
Ok.. so John Wick 2 was awesome. My recap here makes it seem like I’m just ripping it a new one every chance I get, but I had to work super hard to find issues with it. Everything about Chapter 2 screams “big budget James Bond” but it’s totally a lower budget action flick that scales massive walls. It’s more than the sum of its parts and feedback was so good that the director has been given the reigns of the Highlander franchise. FUCKING HIGHLANDER, holy crap. The castings were perfect, the setpieces were perfect and the expansion of Chapter 1’s mythology was, you guessed it, not imperfect.
My favourite thing about this movie is that it gives you just enough. Just enough information about whats going on. Just enough knowledge of characters and motivations to make them interesting. Just enough action and cooldown. Just enough hard techno music. By giving you that perfect amount it leaves you begging for more. The movie responds by laughing at you and then giving you other stuff to beg more of.
I give this movie 9/10. The only reason it doesn’t get top marks is because, if this takes places right after Chapter 1, he either kidnapped someone else’s dog or is feeding it performance enhancing drugs. That isn’t cool, man.