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Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2


by Katt Birdsell, Reporter,

If you end up working in one field long enough, you’ll find that everyone knows everyone.  You see similar people at meetings, conventions, conferences, team-buildings, etc.  So it is with John Wick: Chapter 2 in regards to assassins.  It turns out that you need to do a lot of paperwork, filing, processing, and documenting in order to make the “necessary arrangements”. Sooner or later, you may start running into people you haven’t seen in a while or are introduced to some new coworkers hoping to make their mark in the game.

John Wick: Chapter 2 starts right where the first movie left off.  After getting his car back from the remaining Russian relative (who provides exposition on Wick’s capabilities) John Wick (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix) returns home with his new, nameless, dog expecting to go back to his retirement.  His hope is short lived though when Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio, The Informant) gets wind that John is working again and arrives with a marker demanding it be honored.  Reluctantly, John accepts and heads to Rome in order to fulfill his obligation.  Once there, we’re exposed to the Italian Continental that upholds the same policies as the states (no bloodshed on Continental grounds).  John is then fitted for a suit that’s equipped with a bulletproof lining, has a “tasting” of choice weaponry, and is given the keys to the back gates in order to fulfill his mission.  The rest is up to him.

The key element to the John Wick series is consistency.  The opening sequence of events stays true to the first movie in terms of style, camera angles, visual atmosphere, cast, and action and that’s what you get for the rest of the movie.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  However, when it came to the action sequences, eventually, it was broken.  We know John is the best at what he does, he’s even called “The Boogeyman”, because he’s the one you send to KILL the boogeyman.  Knowing that eventually makes the action sequences less entertaining because we know what’s going to happen.  On the other hand, there were still some very well done sequences.  Let’s just say I haven’t seen a pencil used so effectively since Batman. 

For this new installment in the John Wick franchise, I was hoping for an adversary worthy of our protagonist.  Someone we really thought stood a chance against Wick and made us wonder if he’d be reunited with Helen.  One slightly worthy opponent was introduced but was only in a small portion of the movie and, after that, things started looking the same.  I was excited to see Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) as a mute bodyguard and anticipated the moment she broke out and started kicking ass.  However, she was incredibly under utilized and her moment in the sun lasted but a scene that was underwhelming.  Ruby Rose herself did the most with what she was given but unfortunately, what she was given wasn’t enough.  Instead of a true rival, John Wick is left to deal with quantity over quality.

The best part of the film is the casting.  Common (Selma) as Cassian is dead on.  He’s intense, focused, motivated, and compliments Reeves well.  The Continental playing more of a role in Chapter 2 gives us a breath in between action sequences and reminds us that although Charon (Lance Reddick, White House Down) is a deadpan concierge, he’s still someone we’d like to know.  We also get a chance to hang out with Winston (Ian McShane, Death Race) and come to endear him as an intimidating father figure.  But if you’re hoping for an incredible reunion between Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburn (The Matrix), don’t hold your breath.  Fishburn’s character is poorly written, clunky, lacks purpose, and is just down right awkward.

Overall

The difficulty about John Wick: Chapter 2 is that there were parts that stood out, were well done, and made me think, “If you liked John Wick, you’re going to like this one too.” But there were also some sore thumbs I couldn’t seem to get past which were reminders that this is, indeed, a sequel. 

 

ComicsOnline gives John Wick: Chapter 2 – 3.5 sequels out of 5.

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About Matt Sernaker

(Managing Editor/Director of Media Relations) Matt interviewed MacGyver once (true story), and was invited on a submarine to the Arctic. It hasn't happened yet, but Matt hopes that some day he will get the call and he and Richard Dean Anderson will go off and have a wacky adventure.

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