By: Zach Kirkland @HeyZachAttack
“You Can’t Stop John Wick. You Can Only Hope to Contain Him.”
You have no idea how hard it is going to be for me to not type this review in all caps.
Sometimes, when I am bored, I go on YouTube and watch the club sequence from the original John Wick where Wick, after his car is stolen and his puppy is killed, mows down some of the Russian (?) pieces of trash responsible like some kid playing Grand Theft Auto with all the cheat codes on. The original John Wick reenergized the American action film by reinvesting in simplicity. A hit man has his car stolen and his dog killed. He kills everyone as revenge. That’s it. We’re in and out in just over ninety minutes. Not only was the storyline simple but also the rationale behind the staging and choreography. John Wick made us believe that you can shoot an action film without rapid pace cutting and close ups and fake CGI. Sometimes, in shooting a fight sequence, you can just go with the wide shot and let it play out. Throw in an always game Keanu Reeves and you got yourself a classic. And then, I go see the sequel.
Oh. My. God.
To sum up the film’s plot, Wick’s house is blown up by Italian bigwig Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) after Wick initially refuses to do a job he is technically required to do. The reason he has to is a little convoluted. Basically, Wick has to satisfy a marker which is essentially a debt repayment for being allowed to step away from the hitman life. Wick is mad. He goes overseas. He gets double crossed. Everyone is out to kill him. Wick kills a lot of people. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. You don’t come for the plot. You stay for the efficient slaughtering of bad guys.
John Wick Chapter 2 does what all great, successful sequels do. It takes the mythology behind its predecessor and injects it with performance enhancing drugs. I mean, for crying out loud there’s a freaking cold open action sequence (!). These guys aren’t messing around. The assassin underworld we were introduced to in the first film is expanded across international waters. Now, basically everyone is an assassin. You walk down the street and assassins are on benches monitoring your every move. Homeless people are assassins. Tailors are weapons specialists. John Wick shoots multiple people in the face onstage during a concert that provides the soundtrack during the HGH version of the first film’s iconic club sequence and the crowd just goes wild. In the film’s funniest, most surreal moment, Wick and Cassian (Common), a fellow assassin, nonchalantly attempt to shoot each other across a subway station with suppressors held close to their chests. Bullets narrowly miss unsuspecting travelers. Not only do we have top notch, choreographed action set pieces, we have truly inspired moments of dark comedy. Even the action set pieces have a musicality to how they are staged. It’s like a blood soaked, bullet ridden musical and Keanu Reeves is a bloodthirsty, borderline psychopathic Gene Kelly. It’s just a delicate tightrope of brutal, R-rated action and hilarious moments of surrealism. It’s incredible.
We don’t see action movies like this anymore. I nearly threw my wallet at the screen when the credits began to roll. I can’t wait for Chapter 3.