John Wick: Chapter 2

7 Overall Score
Writing: 6/10
Production: 8/10
Performances: 7/10

Bang bang bang!

Mediocre writing and a cardboard universe.

John Wick 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad, Derek Kolstad
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane
2017

John Wick is the Freudian death-drive fitted with Keanu Reeves’ cheekbones; purpose in slaughter; the Death card; the phantasmal avenging angel, so vivid in the imagination, and no one cleans up but the crows. We’ve seen this dozens of times—The Crow, Kill Bill, Taken, the Montoya subplot in A Princess Bride—but the primal appeal of this id-tantrum can’t be denied. Wouldn’t it be just great if justice were as simple and satisfying as a corpse-pile that never stopped growing? John Wick appeals to we humans for the same reason that totalitarianism does; the seductive, deceptive simplicity of killing.

While John Wick: Chapter 2 avoided being subtitled Don’t Fuck With The Cat, the plot is similarly a conveyor belt that moves goons into John’s guns. It does attempt to expand the Wickiverse with the return of survivors from the first film, like Charon and Winston, the addition of a few new characters who seem to make it through the closing credits, and by clearly setting up a third installment, with yet again higher stakes. Maybe you can’t just shoot your way through your feelings, eh, John?

And as you have read elsewhere, the filmmakers are planning The Continental, a series set in the Wikivervse. You can get a lot of screen time out of bespoke suits and the thumping boom of mint-out-of-the-box Bennellis.

John Wick: Chapter 2
continues to use the signature combination of highly realistic gun-fu and ludicrous results. No one outnumbered twenty to one comes out alive five times out of five. But the shootouts are ballets of things measured in feet per second, and every gunslinger I know laughs with joy watching them. Batman is out of my reach, they think. I’m not a billionaire. But…I just maybe could be…Mr. Wick!

The actress Ruby Rose, best known for her role in Orange is the New Black, is a vivid standout here as Ares, a major antagonist. Ms Rose is not a large woman, but she conveys a slick, arrogant menace sufficient to challenge even the Baba Yaga. And she has clearly trained very hard to acquire the weapon skills she shows off so beautifully.

If you liked the first Wick, you’re going to like the second. But this franchise is already racing up the ramp to jump the proverbial shark. How much faster can it go?

 

 

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Brian Downes
Author: Brian Downes View all posts by
Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through Amazon.com. He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke's father. You can't trust Vader's word!

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