What a great weekend for films. John Wick is back along with Batman (in lego form). I plan on seeing The Lego Batman Movie, but when choosing between the two the choice was easy. I had a blast with the first John Wick film, but over time I grew to really love it. Originally I gave it an 8/10 but I would certainly bump it up to around an 8.5/10. Numbers don’t really mean much though because regardless of the number it was one of the best experience I have had in a movie theater. The trailers for this second installation have looked promising, but there is always some hesitation with an action film sequel. However, I am overjoyed to report that this is a solid second installment that builds on the first and sets up a potential third film.
You wanted me back… I’m back!
Let us get the negatives out of the way. There are not too many but there are enough that kept this film from being on the same level as the first . My biggest complaint with the film is that there is not as much of an emotional connection this time around. The first film brutally killed of John’s dog which instantly motivated him along with us as audience members. This film lacks that emotional drive, but that is not necessarily bad. John’s drive this time around is more logical and makes much more sense the more you think about it. I just wished they could have done something that had me as emotionally engaged as I was the first time around. This film make a point of going “bigger” with the action and set-pieces. My problem with this is that occasionally the film goes too over the top. For me, this was most evident in the intro scene. Speaking of the intro, for me, it is the weakest part of the film. It reaffirms John as “The Boogeyman” by reusing notable dialogue from the first film. I feel like we know just how great John is, so hyping him up so much in the intro seemed a bit redundant. One final negative is Ruby Rose. She is a fine actress (I have only seen her in Orange is the New Black), but in this film she kept doing the “Blue Steel” face from Zoolander. These are not major problems, but I found them aspects that brought the film down a bit for myself. With that said, the rest of this film is pretty great. I have to start off with the action: Oh my god.
The problem with the first John Wick film is that they peaked during the night club scene in the second act. This time around I found that the action was quite consistent throughout. There is a similar night club scene this time around, but it is different enough that it felt fresh and less of a rehash. I should also mention that the first half of this film is very much an echo of the first film. It never felt too on the nose though, more like a playful “Hey, do you remember this?”. The second half is completely different, and that is where my interest in the film really peaked. My favorite action scenes this time around consisted of Keanu Reeves hashing it out with Common. Those two had some superbly choreographed action scenes that were equal parts brutal and funny. The action constantly shifts from hand to hand, vehicular warfare, and gun-fu. By doing this the film never felt like it was repetitive and kept me wanting more.
I’ll kill them all.
Another strong aspect of the film is how it takes the time to expand the mythology of this world. The first film gave us a little taste, but this time around you learn more about the rules of this assassin society. Not only that, but you learn just how many people are part of it (Spoilers: a lot). I mentioned earlier that John’s motivation this time around is not as emotional, but I do want to elaborate on that just a bit. MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!! John is thrust back into his old life as an assassin because of a rule that he must uphold in the assassin society.
He is indifferent towards this, so it is natural that he is not as emotionally invested. Later on in the film he becomes more emotionally invested but for different reasons than the first film. He becomes fueled with rage, so we get a little taste of John completely unhinged. The film does end in such a way that a third film is possible and I truly hope it happens. They have an opportunity to do something really great with it, offering up an even more vulnerable and brutal John Wick than ever before.
2017 is off to a strong start with another great installment in the John Wick franchise. I implore you to go see it so that a third film could be possible. I apologize for the lack of reviews, but school has been taking over my life as of late. My top 10 list of 2016 is still underway (Just need to finish watching Paterson and Silence) but expect that within the next couple of weeks. Have a splendid time at the cinema and have some popcorn on me.