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John Wick Chapter 2 - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
John Wick Chapter 2
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+

John Wick sure gets hit by cars a lot. Several times it happens in the opening sequence alone. I'll give the movie credit for this: John Wick's adversaries tend to be nearly his physical match in hand to hand combat. Pretty much no one can match him in marksmanship.

He also gets shot a lot, though. We see his bare skin covered in bruises a few times. He limps along, and then, miraculously, he's got as much energy and strength as ever. He wears bullet proof clothing. As in its fun but relatively overrated predecessor, John Wick (2014), John Wick Chapter 2 has him continuing to shoot countless people right in the head. Maybe he assumes they have bullet proof clothing on too. I guess they're all too stupid to think of shooting John himself in the head. These people might as well be Storm Troopers.

This sequel is nearly identical to its predecessor in every way, except one key element: the writing. This movie is slightly more fun, and certainly less focused on John Wick's grief over the wife for whom he left his life as an assassin, only to have her die on him. No extended periods of gloomy rain and funerals here: like the proper action movie it was always meant to be, Chapter 2 gifts the viewer with a fantastically preposterous action sequence before we even see the opening credits. Remember how those assholes stole his car? And they killed his puppy? Well, now he has a new dog, and he's coming to collect the car. These people have lots of cars of their own and they hit him with them. Multiple times. But damn does it make you want to keep shoving popcorn into your mouth!

And that's not even the focus of the story this time around. A guy to whom he is in debt due to a blood oath has come to collect his favor, leaving John Wick no choice but to get back into the job he thought he'd retired from. These people take themselves way too fucking seriously. I guess if they didn't, we wouldn't have this movie filled with genuinely impressive gun fight sequences.

Furthermore, this movie often feels like watching someone else's avatar walking through a video game. Shoot-shoot-shoot, shoot-shoot-shoot! Stab, stab. Shoot-shoot!

Still, it's all about the presentation. Much of John Wick Chapter 2 is beautifully shot. Who thought a woman dying in a pool of her own blood could be so pretty? I always wish there were more women in the movies I see, but this one offers two key supporting parts to women: 45-year-old Claudia Gerini as one of the most powerful criminals in the world; and Ruby Rose in a characteristically androgynous part as one of the movie's key villains. Her character is even deaf and speaks sign language, which everyone around her -- including John Wick himself -- seems to be fluent in. Way to represent! Also, she gets to deliver a particularly clever line that incorporates a middle finger into her sign language. Anyway, this movie has a ridiculously high body count and 99% of them are men. You could say it fetishizes violence against men as opposed to women, and I'm kind of okay with that. The women in this movie may be few, but they are strong and make a lasting impression.

There are several other recognizable faces. Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Common, Laurence Fishburne. They all do their part, making this indeed a better movie than the original John Wick, albeit barely, and not enough to give it a different overall rating. In the end it's just more of the same, which means it delivers and satisfies those who want it. Talking about whether or not a movie like this is "good" is kind of pointless. It simply does what its audience asks of it.

For me, certain things were a little disappointing. He has a new dog, but the dog never factors into the plot. What's the point of this new dog if it can't be part of the fun? The dog just hangs around, and doesn't even look pretty. I guess we're just supposed to be glad John's finally got some unharmed companionship. Also, an otherwise expertly staged sequence inside a mirrored art exhibit meant to be a contemplation of the self is ultimately a wasted opportunity. These movies have so many chances for some satire, or even just some deeper meaning, and never takes them. It's tempting to call this a brainless action movie, except it must be acknowledged that some of the action set pieces are ingeniously staged. That's all these movies ever come down to, really.

Keanu Reeves kills a whole bunch more people in JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2.

Overall: B
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