The new Chapter in the John Wick has just hit the theaters in a blur of amazingly choreographed action. I have to be honest, I wasn’t holding out a lot hope for this movie, despite how much I loved the first one. I was worried they would just do the same old thing. Which it turns out they did, only better. Pay attention Hollywood, this is how you do a sequel.
The movie opens with what could have easily have been a closing from the last film. It was an edge of the seat call back, reminding the audience what happened in the first film (as if any of us needed a reminder). What this does amazingly well, is it opens on an jaw dropping action sequence, while at the same time playing with the audience’s expectations. Russians again? Having avenged his puppy in the last movie, tell me this one isn’t going to be about his car! Nope, it’s just the scriptwriter and director screwing with our crappy sequel expectations.
Instead, we are treated to the next logical progression of the John Wick storyline (as logical as a world that appears to be utterly controlled in the shadows with gold coins and a worldwide chain of criminal Howard Johnsons, and a council of kingpins that are treated like royalty). The parenthesized will make perfect sense to anyone who has seen the movie, and trust me, it only makes this crazy rollercoaster of a movie even more enjoyable.
Honestly, this is exactly what makes the movie so enjoyable. This crazy world where this over the top action could actually exist. Where you can literally equip for war with a handful of gold coins. It creates a world where John Wick exists. Where Everyone knows John Wick. The single police officer we see in the film (present in two of the best moments in both films) knows who he is and knows better than to get in his way. A world where one of the criminal elite can use a massive switchboard/archive, staffed by tattooed women dressed a la Leave it to Beaver – 1950s to communicate and control the entire criminal underworld, in such an efficient manner; I found myself wishing they were running our politics. And it’s just crazy! With the exception of a heavy handed flash mob-esque scene at the end of the film (again, those who have seen it will understand), this world just works. And it’s what the filmmakers did exceptionally well in both of the John Wick movies.
In so many action films, the action, whether the result of the protagonist or villain, has the audience thinking, where are the cops? Halfway through the action scenes, you know that the police would already have shown up, set a perimeter, and SWAT guys would be filing out of APCs to the chant of “Hut Hut Hut!” But in John Wick’s world, it somehow makes sense. A gunfight between our favorite anti-hero and a small army of goons, in the middle of a crowded dance floor? The crowd barely bats an eye. In any other movie, I’d be screaming, “Are you kidding me?” five minutes into this movie. My suspension of disbelief shattered. But in this world, it just works.
OK, let’s get to the good part: The action. Wow.. Just Wow… Myself, like anyone who has been near the Internet in the last six months has seen the clip of Keanu Reeves doing weapons training. If you haven’t, stop reading this, check out the clip and come back. The clip can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnB07wnDJL8
The amount of work that went into the action scenes just cannot be adequately described with words. Shotgun speed-loading, one handed tactical magazine replacement, the hand to hand combat; all without those horrible jump cuts of shaky cam fight scenes (I’m looking at you, Bourne and Taken sequels!). The action is frantic and precise, bloody and edge of your seat. These are action scenes where you never feel like you’re missing anything, but at the same time you know that you’ll still be seeing things you missed in second, third and fourth viewings. Although, I will say this. For those of us who have beaten the game on hard mode, then played another play through on easy, this movie will remind you of those battles. So Many Headshots!
The supporting cast were spot on, and exceptional. Even if the inclusion of a villain who only communicates in sign was a little too Roger Moore-Bond-Villain for my taste. Although, I have to say, Ruby Rose did a wonderful job with what should have been a ludicrous role. But even accounting for Keanu Reeves, Common, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and on and on; the real heroes of this film were the stunt people and stunt choreographers. They were incredible. The fight between Keanu Reeves and Common’s character down a set of cobblestone stairs literally had me cringing in sympathetic pain. It was incredible.
With the overall feel of this movie, the superb action sequences, and the fantastic casting choices all lend this movie into the category of “must see.” Aside from a few 80s style bond villains, I really can’t find anything in this film that detracts from the whole. It’s predecessor and this sequel are two of the best popcorn action films to grace the screen in years. Catch this film in the theaters for an immersive experience. Personally, I’m glad I did, and can’t wait to buy it on Blu-ray.
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