Movie Review: John Wick:Chapter Two

 

John Wick: Chapter Two (2017)

Genre: Crime,Action, Thriller

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Common, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo

Like many people, I was stunned with how incredible John Wick was back in 2014. It was passionate, gritty, realistic, and superbly shot.  It was among the finest action films I had seen in years.  It was the movie that brought Keanu Reeves back into the limelight in a big way.

When I heard about John Wick: Chapter Two, I was excited, but concerned about if it could keep up the amazing pace.  Many times, we see sequels push themselves to be bigger and better than the original, but lose heart or wander off the path completely.  Sadly, this is the case with John Wick: Chapter Two, but that doesn’t mean it lacked quality.

What I Didn’t Like

The pacing in this film was off, especially in the first half.  I understand the desire to world build and appreciate aspects of this, but it lingered far too long. The first half of this movie lulled often and I found myself checking the time, yawning, and getting a bit sleepy. (Three things I never did with the original.) The first half of this movie certainly could have used some more action.

John Wick’s reasons for his violent rampage were fully justified in the first film. We understood on an emotional level why he did everything and that got us rooting for him on that raw emotional level.  This film could not rise to that occasion. You can understand why he is angry, why he may want some revenge, but it lacked the intensity of the original.  The motivation just wasn’t enough.

There were a couple of times where the violence went from normal action violence to WTF level. I can accept violence, especially when pivotal to the plot like in John Wick.  However, this film had violence for the sheer point of excessive violence. To me, a movie should use violence as a tool, not a crutch. There were a couple of scenes which seemed to rely on being violent for the sake of shock value and I’ve always found that cheap. (It’s why many horror films are so weak.)

The film steers in the direction of explaining too much.  When you do that, you lose some of the mystery and some of the fun in the process.

John Wick: Chapter Two lacked an emotional climax. In the original, Wick had this amazing speech to why he was so angry and why he had come out of retirement.  This film had no defining moment. Not a single moment where Wick “dropped the mic” as it were.  I didn’t clap, I didn’t want to give Wick a fist bump. Nothing. Losing that emotional aspect of the film hurt.

Then there was the main villain who was as bland as they come. There were several far more interesting assistants to antagonists that I found far more compelling.  I would have rather had them more the villains and erase the head antagonist completely from the film.

John Wick was quite gritty and realistic. This film still had that aspect, but it wasn’t as prevalent. There were a few scenes where I had to suspend my disbelief, but couldn’t.

 

What I Did Like (Because I actually didn’t hate this film.)

Now I talked a fair amount about what I didn’t like because the film certainly had issues, but there was a lot to still enjoy.  For starters, the action in this movie is quite awesome. The cinematography was still stunning and easy to follow. They kept the same style of the original intact and that benefits the film. You know who is attacking and who is getting hit and the movement is very fluid.

The world building, while it was tedious at times. It did help explain a lot of little details leftover from the first film. There were a lot of neat little bits here and there which enriched the film. Granted, there are now new questions that need to be answered.  We will have John Wick: Chapter Three likely sometime by 2020.

The acting by Keanu Reeves and the general cast was very strong.  Common as Cassian was incredible. He is a fitting match for John Wick. Another addition I liked was Ruby Rose as Ares (who was a total badass).  I also really enjoyed the addition of Laurence Fishburne. He was interesting and gave many of the audience to see the future hope to see more in the future.  Seeing Fishburne and Reeves reunited was a beautiful thing as well.

I can’t knock the overall quality of the film.  The musical score was solid, the choreography, and hand to hand combat exceptional.  There are certain scenes in the movie (especially in the second half) which were sheer brilliance. The quality of this film despite some of its flaws in the writing were still exceptional.

Conclusion

            John Wick: Chapter Two did not live up to my expectations. It could not transcend or even match its amazing predecessor.  It lost that emotional touch, and sometimes pushed unnecessary boundaries. However, it is not a terrible film. The action is still riveting when going on and the talented cast was very compelling with few exceptions.  I own John Wick, but I won’t be saying the same thing about John Wick: Chapter Two.  However, I would watch it again and think it is worthwhile for any action genre fan to view. I will be cautious with the future of this franchise, but for now it has two quality films under its belt.

The Ladder

John Wick (2014)

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Born Ultimatum (2007)

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

Jason Bourne (2016)

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

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