John Wick 2 ReviewThe action movie genre has not really changed much in over a decade. The stunts have become more elaborate because technology has moved forward but the writing and the acting hasn’t progressed. Often it does come down to how much of a budget a movie has and of course the talent involved. Tom Cruise took “Mission Impossible” from a spy thriller with some action and moved to a set piece driven action series of films where Cruise smiles through it. There are some exceptions like Bourne series, Kill Bill or even the artistically driven Mad Max. On the whole, though you can see the basis of most of the stylistic choices from modern action films in the Hong Kong action films of the 1980s.
This brings us to the latest sequel, in the soon to be trilogy, John Wick 2. John Wick is rated to be the hired killers version of “the boogie man”. He is known to appear make an difficult kill and then disappear without trace. The movie follows Wick enjoying the well deserved retirement with a new dog and attempting to not look over his shoulder at every turn. Unfortunately for Wick, he still owes a favour to an Italian mob boss(Riccardo Scamarcio). He tells Wick that he requires one last assignment and he can leave his former life forever. Wick decides he has to take the job and races to Italy in order to carry out the mission. Once he completes it, the criminal underworld becomes unstable and the mob boss decides to hunt down Wick in order to make sure he doesn’t reveal who hired him. This leads to final showdown in New York city with small army of men taking turns individually on the most part to kill Wick in a museum. Wick finally finds the mob boss and because of his actions in the safe house, loses all his underworld help and has a price on his head.
John Wick 2 is a film has suffers from what many sequels do. The first film had a modest budget and though it did have some set pieces, didn’t leave the viewer like they were watching a video game like the second movie does. There are dozens and dozens of henchman who attack Wick and spend a few seconds on screen before being dispatched.
The Wick character is part indestructible super hero, part encyclopaedia of violence and little else. There is no real character development for Wick and other than Reeves learning a new one handed take down (which is used every single fight scene), Reeves plays Wick like some cyborg with gun fetish. He gets injured multiple times and continues on. He never eats or and despite fans of the series recite that he reloads his guns, the number of bullets fired never matches the number of times he reloads. Scarmarcio plays the mob boss in a typical fashion being equally slimy but over the top rage fits as well. His character from the start knows what Wick is capable of up but never really takes a moment to plan. Ian McShane who plays the confidante to many of the characters is wasted. He attempts to bring some depth to his very flat character but unfortunately since this is an action film, never follows through. Ruby Rose who plays the body guard of the mob boss spends most of her time looking tough and as an added twist is deaf.
Though most movie goers interested in this movie aren’t interested in character development or even if there is a plot, it’s all about the action sequences for them. In comparison to the first movie, the set pieces are both more intricate and longer. The opening sequence which utilizes cars and martial arts sets a tone but runs too long. There are literally dozens of people who use a variety of martial arts to attack Wick. There are also several gun battles that are littered through the film using multiple calibre and types. The final set piece which takes places in the mirrored series of rooms is unique for this generation but also depends on people attacking Wick one at time. The larger problem with all these sequences that by midway through the movie, a viewer could get bored. The sequences all have lots of gun play, which leads to hand to hand combat and then repeat. Some of the sequences are very well staged and Reeves is in good shape as well as did most of his own stunts. Reeves used many of his stuntman friends and actors in this film. But less is often more in many cases.
John Wick 2 is an unmemorable sequel to a pretty well made first film. It has a lot of violence and pretty good action sequences. Don’t expect much of a plot or acting from any of the cast including the always reliable Ian McShane. Reeves continues his trend to make action films which keep him looking good as the hero but never requiring much in terms of stretching his acting ability.
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