So once again we have survived.

John Wick Chapter 2

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 is the solid sequel we always hoped (in fact assumed) it would be. The first film – already a certified modern action classic – had a perfect combination of elegant high concept (legendary assassin comes out of retirement to avenge some dipshits who killed his dog) and interesting world (a society of killers with their own rules, services and even currency). Rehashing the former would make for diminishing returns, so returning screenwriter Derek Kolstad (ONE IN THE CHAMBER, THE PACKAGE) digs deeper into the latter, showing us more about the operations and codes of the Continental Hotel and its affiliates as Wick is forced to repay a debt, getting himself into more and more trouble and testing the limits of his unkillableness.

He’s still trying to retire. The movie has a sense of humor about it without undermining his sincerity. Moments after he finishes cementing his weapons back into the basement floor the doorbell rings and you think “Jesus, what now?” Well, it’s Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio, THE BEST OF YOUTH), who helped him escape the business and now is cashing in his favor to drag him back in. Wick would have to get into the Vatican to assassinate Santino’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST). Throughout the movie Wick finds himself backed into corners and all he can do is keep killing his way out of them. And the more killing the more corners.

I don’t get the impression they’re trying to top the action of the first chapter, or at least not make it way bigger, MATRIX RELOADED style. But they do a respectable job of matching it, perhaps making the fights more complex, with even more participants. And this time they have the advantage of being able to start the story mid-car-chase.

I love the unnecessary recap in the opening scene, as Peter Stormare (as the brother of part 1 villain Viggo) recounts to a disbelieving underling what his nephew did to unleash the furious vengeance of John Wick. He discusses Wick’s over-the-top “Just How Badass Is He?” legends and adds, “If anything, these stories has been watered down.”

Meanwhile, Wick chases and fights with his car, speeding and spinning, slamming into people, cars, walls. He uses his vehicle as a weapon, not running over people straight on, but skidding out to side-slap them into walls. He shoots and jiujitsus and piano wires through layers of security and demolishes both his replacement car and his original one, while Stormare cowers in his office listening to the horrible sounds of what’s happening to his minions.

Honestly, I think CHAPTER 2 has more and better action before the opening credits than many action movies have throughout. Former Keanu stunt double Chad Stahelski returns as director (this time solo). It’s also the same second unit director as part 1, Darrin Prescott, who was Hugo Weaving’s double for MATRIX RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS. The great UNDISPUTED 2 choreographer JJ Perry also worked on it in some capacity (he’s one of many credited stunt coordinators).

Structural simplicity is key, and much of the movie is just Wick being chased. An open contract on him reveals that there are way more elite assassins around than you might think. As he flees through the New York subway system, they make half-hearted attempts to conceal the war going on in broad daylight. But it seems like most of the people he encounters are trying to kill him, except for those innocent commuters who have to sit quietly waiting for their stop during a brutal subway knife fight.

His two most notable opponents are D’Antonio bodyguards Cassian (Common, RUN ALL NIGHT, SELMA) and Ares (Ruby Rose, xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER – good year for her). With Cassian I love the old-friends-and-fellow-professionals-who-respect-each-other-but-now-must-fight-to-the-death vibe. With Ares I like that there’s alot of buildup of her badassness which is weird and not fully explained. And that her presence reveals that in addition to Russian and Italian Wick knows sign language.

The Wickverse is also expanded to include Laurence Fishburne (BOBBY Z) as a kingpin running a network of homeless (or fake homeless?) spies and killers. I hope we’ll find out more about him in part 3 and also that we’ll see Carrie Anne Moss. Not that that sort of referential casting is necessary, but they know how to make it work here. They could’ve had just some guy play the manager of Rome’s branch of the Continental Hotel, but they knew it would be better to have Django, aka the Entering Ninja, aka General Esperanza of Val Verde, Mr. Franco Nero.

There’s a great sense of pacing, giving us plenty of action but also a good amount of anticipation, a long stretch of Wick walking around in a bloody thermal before putting on the nice suit that means he’s thinking he’s back. Much of the fun is in the preparation – tailoring a bullet-proof suit, ordering an arsenal, testing out the weapons (Keanu might be cinema’s greatest living gun-feeler-outer), negotiating to obtain one gun and one piece of information that will get him started on killing a ridiculous number of people.

And then there is so much of the glorious mayhem that the tiny gestures of arguable humanity stand out like flecks of gold in mud. Wick is a character whose appeal is both his monstrous capacity for violence and his sincere desire to stop using it. In an occupation with this many close range silencer shots to the head, small deeds – calling for peace just after slaughtering a bunch of dudes over a car, declaring friendship with the person he came to assassinate – can seem sweet and honorable. We knew that Wick had a heart when it came to his wife and his dog, but here we learn something new about his sensitive side: sometimes he saves people’s lives by giving them potentially mortal wounds that they will be able to survive if they choose to keep pressure on them rather than retaliate. What a darling!

Though there are many excellent flippings and stabbings, my favorite thing about the movie is its use of a sort of samurai code. Like a chanbara movie, it deals with Wick’s fanatical adherence to, but now questioning of, an extreme set of rules. We recognize both the moral correctness of (at first) refusing to murder his friend just because traditions tell him he has to, and the cinematic awesomeness of the crazy shit these people feel they have to do in order to follow the letter of the law. My favorite scene is not a fight but a break in the middle of one, when it bleeds into the hotel grounds, where “business” is not allowed to be conducted, and Nero convinces Wick and Cassian to sit down for a drink together. They calmly discuss their intentions, which involve killing each other. And it’s not an argument, because they can’t disagree with each other’s logic.

In fact, I don’t know why I’ve never added the temporary ceasefire to the list of favorite badass tropes. It’s a great type of scene that also extends beyond the action genre. I think of everything from the force-field-necessitated pause in the PHANTOM MENACE light saber duel to the temporary truce to extricate the WAR HORSE from barb wire. Okay, there’s still plenty of animosity in that first example, but enemies taking a break from fighting is always powerful. Even if they can’t become fight brothers at least they got to stop and smell the flowers.

I guess the “chapter” in the title tells us this will be an ongoing series, because what kind of a story only has two chapters? But I did not know (SPOILERS FOR HOW THIS ENDS) how much this would be a middle chapter. The things that are resolved lead to much larger consequences, leaving him stripped of all his resources just when he’s facing a larger threat than ever before. The end seems to imply that even loyal friends like Aurelio (John Leguizamo, LAND OF THE DEAD) will be off limits to him. But I bet he’ll still figure out how to get his car back and that it will be very satisfying. In EMPIRE STRIKES BACK terms, his car is Han in carbonite! Anyway it’s not unsatisfying but it is a cliffhanger, so it leaves you with a different feeling than part 1. The main difference being a confidence that they’ll do another one soon.

Many have told me that this is better and bolder than the first film. I’m not sure about that, but I think it’s as good as the first one, or very close, and that’s a great thing.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017 at 12:29 pm and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

84 Responses to “John Wick Chapter 2”

  1. Just imagine if Common’s role had been played by Gary Daniels, as I believe it had been intended.

  2. YES! Stormare is the brother! Without seeing it it has already fulfilled my hopes!

  3. This one lacks the rock-solid emotional throughline of the first one and is thus inferior. “These fuckers killed my dog and now I need to kill these fuckers” is so easy to relate to that even viewers who aren’t necessarily into watching 150 dudes get shot in the face really enjoyed the movie. (I even talked to someone who said the fights were her least favorite part.) This one is more of an action connoisseur’s confection, with many different variations on the main theme swirling around each other. If the first one’s plot trajectory was straight as an arrow, this one is a spiral. It makes it less a unified story and more an assemblage of parts.

    But what great parts! I particularly loved the multitiered gearing up montage, which was unabashedly trying to emulate the “trying on wedding dresses” montage in your average romantic comedy, but for dudes.

    All in all, its only flaws are some repetitive action (I mentioned in a previous post the almost ritualistic replication of Wick’s signature “pin a guy to the floor, shoot two guys, finish off the first guy” move, which occasionally made it feel like Wick [or maybe his stunt team] was just going through the motions), a few too many winky-winky callbacks in the first act (I rewatched the first one the night before, so I was able to remember that Stormare’s “How badass is he?” speech was word for word the same as Nyqvist’s in Part 1. Also, Jimmy the Cop and Wick have the exact same dialogue exchange that they had in the first one), and the simple fact that this world and this style of action no longer have the shock of the new. I could maybe have used a little escalation, either in stakes or scale, in the third act, but maybe they’re saving that for the trilogy capper. All in all, it’s as good a sequel as anyone could reasonably expect. Bring on Hugo Weaving as the manager of the Sydney Continental.

  4. I really liked this one but I liked the first one more. It was interesting watching two ‘middle-chapter’ movies in a row (this and JOURNEY TO THE WEST: DEMONS STRIKE BACK) and how both movies dealt with that. This one expands the world and constantly moves things forward and builds up to a great ending making you want more while JOURNEY just treats it as a more traditional sequel of old in it’s middle chapter as just another adventure and it ends mostly the most same way it began. Arguably JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 is a much better movie but in this climate of movie serializations, it’s hard not to see which is the better method when telling a story over multiple-movies (at least in my opinion).

    Best of all about both JOHN WICKs (other than giving us two rock-solid action movies so far we don’t have to make excuses for), now the Internet is pretending to have always liked Keanu Reeves and never made fun of his unique acting quirks.

    My only complaint is minor, as mentioned on the first movies thread: it would be nice if in CHAPTER 3 we get a bit more variety to the moves/fighting. I understand they are doing their play on sword-fighting of the samurai variety but one can only watch a guy being held down waiting to die so many times without it seeming repetitious. Still fun to watch so it is but a minor quibble.

    Open discussion maybe: who the hell is Ruby Rose? I have never heard of her before the month of January 2016 and all of a sudden she is in every movie and on a bunch of magazine covers and is famous/well-known enough for a monster movie blog I follow to have a post about her. I read her Wikipedia profile and Googled and I still have no clue who she is and why she is a thing now. I’m not trying to complain, I greatly enjoyed her precedence in all three of the movies I’ve seen her in this year (she was one of the few characters who didn’t annoy me in xXx: RETURN… also had my favorite death in RESIDENT EVIL 6 (well maybe next to death fall guy, that one is under-rated). Am I out-of-touch with the youth or is this just a Sam Worthington/Jai Courtney situation where the powers-that-be decided they are going to be famous and the next big thing and we just have to get in line with that thought?

  5. I don´t know, was the first one really that “emotional to relate to”? It played on the most basic of audience emotions and rolled with it. A great startoff point and it was earnest. i have yet to see this one, but come on, it was just a great way to set off Wick.

  6. Before she started hogging all of the lady sidekick/henchman roles, she was a model who got cast on a season of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Nobody particularly liked her character, but with her blend of supermodel facial symmetry, unthreatening androgyny, and a certain blue-collar rawness, she was such a startlingly striking presence that every casting director in the world probably called her five minutes after her first episode went live.

  7. Shoot: That’s my point. People could understand and relate to his motivation, so they were emotionally attached to his killing spree. That’s just good storytelling. This one was more murky by necessity–you can’t just repeat the plot engine of the first movie the way DEATH WISH 2 did. In fact, there were times when I was not on John Wick’s side. (In my opinion, he should have upheld his end of the bargain and done the job the first time he was asked. That was not cool, John Wick.) I don’t need to always agree with a protagonist, but it’s always more effective when a plot has a directness and propulsion that keeps you in sync with the viewpoint character’s journey. The first one was a direct flight; this one took the scenic route and let you admire the view. It’s a nice view, but this tactic means that the storytelling is much less clear and focused than the first one’s.

  8. Ah okay, should’ve also guessed it was a TV (Streaming?) thing. I know ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is really popular but like all popular TV I haven’t seen it and it’s debatable about if I will (I still have not seen STRANGER THINGS, GAME OF THRONES, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, etc. and I just finished 30 ROCK yesterday and even then that was only after all you guys raved about it in the ‘Fuck Off 2016′ thread). I saw on Wikipedia and IMDB she was on that show but it honestly didn’t register.

    Speaking of being able to relate to emotional-motivation, I liked how in the first act they kept screwin’ with us with his new dog, the dog-killing in the first one was such rock-solid motivation that at the end I totally didn’t notice he never got his car back until this one’s prologue (Who cares about the car? Get them for killing your dog). Trying to make us think ‘oh man are they gonna go there again?!’ I mean I didn’t believe for a second they were going to kill another dog (spoiler?) but that’s the kind of call back and playing with the audience I like (not dog-killing by-the-way, that’s totally not cool at all).

  9. I watched the first two seasons of OITNB and then lost interest. It started out as mostly a comedy with some dramatic flourishes, but by the end of Season 2 it was mostly a soap opera with occasional jokes. I’m not into that kind of thing so I bowed out.

    Hot Take #2: STRANGER THINGS is not as good as the internet would have you believe.

  10. STRANGER THINGS is the most elaborate way of pronouncing a question mark in my opinion.

  11. These super-mega-special-awesome-great-better-than-every-movie-ever-made TV series are NEVER as good as they make them out to be.

  12. Totally agree with you, Vern, that this was a great sequel. It was a repeat of all the greatness of the first one, it didn’t feel like it had to go bigger and badder and yet it was still different enough from the first one to be interesting. It’s building upon the awesomeness of the first one without rewriting it. If any of that makes sense; that was kind of contradictory.

    My friends didn’t like the ending *SPOILER*. They said there wasn’t enough of an emotional payoff, like the first one. Maybe some of their dislike of the ending is like Majestyk is saying and it was also about his motivation. I didn’t have a problem with it and in fact thought it set up the next one just right. I was happy he resolved this chapter, but by doing so opened himself up to a whole crapload of problems. I loved the world building of the first one and liked seeing more of it in this one, but I’m excited to see how John’s going to do outside this world.

    It seemed to me like Fishburne and his crew were outside that world. Am I wrong about that? Like they were a lesser crime world, existing adjacent to the big boys. But he did use the gold coin they use in that world with the panhandler. It could’ve just been a way of presenting his bona fides and how dire his situation was, or it could’ve just been a gold coin. I doubt anyone would turn away payment in gold.

    Another thing that impressed me was how they laid the groundwork of John being forced to move on with his life. After the first one, if he’d had his choice, he would’ve gone right back to where he was at the beginning – stuck in stasis with his memories and grief. But now, he’s lost all of his pictures of his wife, he lost the car he had from that time of his life, the house he lived in with his wife burned down. Then he lost his connection to his old world before his wife. Now he has to build something new, go a new route unlike what he’s had in the past. He doesn’t even get to keep the dog she got for him! Yeah, he’s going to get the car back and he went back and got her bracelet out of the ashes, but what I really like is that he got his own dog. He couldn’t have the one she got for him, so he got one for himself.

  13. Alright, enough of this threadjacking TV talk garbage. Let’s get back to JWC2. Who was your favorite new character? I liked the sommelier. He was just so happy to be serving someone with class and distinction. I bet most of his customers come in wanting the ballistic equivalent of a box of zinfandel.

  14. The sommelier was great. I always like that actor, even if it’s just a few minutes of screen time. Cassian was my favorite new one. I hope he shows up again. I’m not sure how quickly you can be back in action when *SPOILER* you have a punctured aorta, but silly reality, like worrying about cops or subway security cameras, doesn’t seem to mean much here.

  15. Fun fact: That actor was the voice of Darth Maul.

    Maggie, you bring up many good points. I hadn’t thought about how the destruction of his house could actually be seen as cleansing. There’s a lot of underworld (in the mythological sense of the world) imagery in the film, so the end when he climbs the staircase into the last of the day’s sunlight could be seen as a rebirth. He’s shed all the trappings of his old life (both his old lives, actually) and might finally have a chance to move on.

    I would also like to stress that my saying that the film is inferior to the first one is in no way a major criticism. There’s only like one English-speaking action movie from the past decade that isn’t inferior to JOHN WICK. The fact that CHAPTER 2 is only slightly worse than the first one is a fucking triumph.

  16. Had to give this one some thought because these filmmakers are very good at churning out fun characters. I think the one who gave me the biggest impression was Cassian (Common’s character). I like his chemistry and comradely with Wick so much I was hoping they’d be able to put their differences aside and team-up but I knew deep-down there was only one way for it was going to end.

    Special shout-out to random Sumo assassin. I smiled so hard when I saw him because I knew this series wouldn’t pussy out like THE MECHANIC remake. When this series introduces a Sumo, the hero is going to have to deal with with being body-slammed, NOT just shooting him before any body-slamming was to happen.

    Maggie: I really like your take on the movie. I side with you that it seems Fishburne and friends are not part of the ‘elite-class’ of assassins we’ve been spending time with the whole time. He even says he got out of the game to set up his own shop. Seems he doesn’t want to be in the ‘big’ game and just wants to live and operate in his niche area he’s carved out for himself.

  17. So about the ending. Is this a typical modern day movie marketing situation, where we only get a half movie and have to wait for the ending until whenever the sequel comes out or is this a BACK TO THE FUTURE II situation, where we get a story with a beginning, a middle and a real ending, that just ends with a quick “Well, this is how the next story will start”? Because the first scenario would kill almost all excitement I had for this movie, while I’m totally okay with the second one.

  18. Like Maggie, I also think that Cassian is my favorite new character. One of the things this series does well is create wonderful and unique characters with a limited running time. It does not surprise me that the sommelier is a standout figure. Likewise, the outfitter, seemed like an actual person, not just some extra. They do a wonderful job of creating real, flesh and blood people with a short running time. Outside of the action, which is incredible, these are incredibly constructed films.

  19. I forgot about the sumo assassin! Yeah, that was a highlight.

    CJ, it’s got a real ending, don’t worry. It teases you about the next chapter, sure, but it’s not a cliffhanger or anything.

  20. All I know is… $7 million was way too low a number.

  21. I was thinking the same thing, Richard, but then again, there are apparently assassins on every street corner, so maybe it’s a seller’s market.

  22. Oh, and I loved that we finally got to see the pencil myth in action.

  23. Good point, Maggie. Although, in typical John Wick fashion, they still leave a little to the imagination. He only kills two people with the pencil, not three.

  24. Wick 1 is a leaner, tighter movie. It’s 20 minutes shorter than Chapter 2 and I think 2 could have easily lost 20 minutes. Wick 1 also has a more involving revenge story and a better villain.

    However…

    Wick 2 has bigger, more intricate practical action sequences and is a better looking movie than Wick 1. Keanu appears be doing a lot more work in this one (so many hip tosses!) and the stuntmen appear to be having the time of their lives (they get to roll down a ton of steps!). Wick 1 is a good looking movie, but Wick 2 is loaded with more color and locations. Also, I don’t really care about the rules & lore in these movies (I’m always more interested in the stunts and the fight choreography), but I did like the reveal of just how many assassins there are in the Wickverse. Hobo assassins! Sumo assassins! Subway violinist assassins! This bodes well for John Wick 3: Wick v Everyone.

    One more thing: Credit to the makers of Wick 2 for putting a fresh new spin on bad guys attacking one at a time! In this movie, people driving cars run down Wick one at a time! I think Wick gets hit by at least three cars during the opening sequence. The drivers then get out of their cars and have traditional one-at-a-time hand to hand fights with Wick. I think the opening is my favorite action sequence in the movie.

  25. I agree, wadew. The opening fight in the garage was my favorite, too.

    Did he do more grappling in this one than he did in part one? I know it’s already been mentioned that he wrestled someone to the ground, shot two guys and then shot the guy he wrestled several times, but I mean grappling in general. It seemed like more to me, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first one.

  26. wadew makes a good point: This Italian guy is no Viggo. The movie’s got memorable characters out the ass but a really great, distinct villain would have put it over the top.

  27. Won’t get to see this till it hits bluray due to Australian distributors being assholes and bypassing a cinema release.

    From Verns review and comments it sounds like a fair comparison that JW1 to 2 go for the same expansion that THE RAID made to THE RAID 2?

  28. I think that’s a good comparison. The first one in both cases has a simple, irresistible hook to hang its action on, while the second one is more of a baroque exploration of a world.

  29. Poeface – It’s been confirmed that JOHN WICK 2 *will* be getting an Australian theatrical release…on April 20th. So, uh, thanks distributors? I guess?

  30. I just want to say that these TV shows that are never as good as the hype only works if you saw the show after the hype. So to some OITNB is probably awesome because they saw it when it just showed up on Netflix. The same thing happened with me and Stranger Things so I can understand people not digging it with the hype behind it.

    John Wick 2 was awesome. My wife had the best time because she might be a little insane and was gleefully laughing and cheering at every headshot. I also like how the movie has a beginning, a middle and an end but also set up a third one. It’s even better at doing that then Empire did.

    Question for everybody, if they do Chapter 3, how can they ever end this series without John Wick dying in the end? It almost would be hard to believe if he can survive this world without dying from it.

  31. I want to see a movie all about those phone operators.

  32. The good Lord bless our distributors! :)

  33. Oh. Right. April 20th. Two months away. Well, I still wish them well. Hopefully the good Lord will postpone the second coming, until we get to see it. Because that could come around a lot quicker.

  34. I regret not mentioning the rolling down stairs in the review. That was a highlight. Also I’m glad Maggie brought up the crew of tattooed switchboard operators. I like Cassian too, and I suspectd they left him (possibly) alive intentionally. I bet he’ll do a favor for ex-communicado John just as Fishburne did for leaving him alive when he slashed his neck all those years ago.

    I was also wondering if Fishburne and his band of raggamuffins were connected to the organization or not, but I think the acceptance of the coin and the fact that the same guy is seen as one of the people watching him at the end means that they are.

    A friend who was blown away by the movie brought up a bunch of subtext he saw in it, some centering around the art installation chase and the recorded narration you hear there. I was too involved in the action to decode what that was all about, but I will definitely be checking for that next time I see it.

  35. Mr Majestyk, are we dissing DEATH WISH 2 now?

  36. Yeah I got a They Live vibe from the stair fight.

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said, only that I thought it was cool that they basically made the same movie but in a different subgenre. Instead of a Revenge movie it’s a One Last Job Till Retirement flick. Both are equally sturdy cliches but I agree with Majestyk that the dead dog element makes you root for Wick more in Chapter 1. Another quick thing: It did a good job at dodging Middlechapteritis. There was enough world building, international flavor, the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it attitude to make up for the weak(ish) villain and the overall feeling that this is more or less a placeholder for a bigger battle yet to come.

  37. I’m toying with the idea of not seeing this on the big screen as it’s been cut to get a lower ‘15’ rating here in the UK, but then I think, who is gonna care about my little one man stand?

    Is it really that big a deal?

    I guess the studio couldn’t resist that huge 15-17 year old demographic or something.

  38. pegs man: Never. I just meant that that kind of blatant repetition of the original film’s hook in the sequel has fallen out of fashion.

  39. Shit got real. JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO will play in my local cinema! What a pleasent Valentines Day present!

  40. Vern:

    The art exhibit is called ‘Reflections of the Soul’ and the PA announcer says something like “”We hope this will lead you into deeper reflection of the nature of self.”

    Also, Italian guy says that Wick is “addicted to the vengeance” and I think he’s kind of right? Seemed like Wick actually could have been OUT after the killing the sister and escaping the catacombs. Italian guy plays it like he wasn’t planning on putting an open contract out on Wick *until* Wick hung up on him.

  41. So… do you guys think John Wick dies at the end of Chapter 3? Is it possible for him to kill every known assassin without eventually dying?

  42. Here’s how I think it could go: So many assassins die coming after Wick that the entire organization is weakened, leaving them open to hostile takeover from a less civilized group of assassins with no code of honor. To preserve their way of life, Management offers Wick immunity for his violations against the rules in exchange for his help. Then at the end, after the dust clears, Management and the entire inner circle are dead and Wick finds himself at the head of the organization. He’s just as trapped in the life as he ever was, only now he’s shackled to a gilded throne.

    You know. Your basic CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK.

  43. Once the mayhem got going in Rome I found it really hard to cheer for John Wick for awhile. I mean, he was the bad guy. Those guys & Common(who usually gets an eye roll from but was really good in this) were just defending their master. I had to just put it aside after a few minutes to enjoy it.
    I also loved Commons and JWs They Live style fight and their eventual subway shootout which had to be the most lowkey intense of all time.
    And the Bellini shotgun sequence was off the chain.

  44. Its a video game but Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain is two chapters and fucking weird for it.

  45. I hope it all ends with him getting killed but then beating Death at Twister.

    What I really hope doesn’t happen, and it’s only occurred to me reading some of the comments here, is that it turns out he’s in some terrible Third Policeman-style hitman purgatory of eternal return, with it all ending with him waking to find Daisy barking at intruders in the dark.

  46. (spoilers)

    wadew – I’m not sure the ‘addicted to vengeance’ line hits that close. Santino plays like maybe he’s willing to be nice when he calls Wick, but at that point hasn’t Wick just got done escaping Ares in the catacombs? As in, Santino’s already immediately tried to have him calling after he’s honoured the marker, so why should he believe he’ll now be allowed to walk away?

    Sternshein – probably not, but you have to imagine there are other ways out of his situation. Seeing more of the High Table seems like an obvious way to go in a third film, and Wick either attempting to kill all of them or allying with some of them/exploiting a division in the Table seems like a way he could short circuit his position at the end of Chapter 2. Maybe? I like Mr Majestyk’s idea too.

    Just got back from seeing it, but most of my thoughts would only echo people here. I think it’s not as good as the first film, but also that both are so good it feels nitpicky to say so.

  47. Right before watching this movie, I got my friend Toby to watch the first one, and during that screening we joked about how funny it would be if Johnny Wickerstein had to take on the Pope in the sequel, and the Pope would like pull an Uzi or a shotgun from under his giant hat and shoot back at Jicky Wicky. So we both laughed out loud watching Chapter 2 when the General from Val Verde asked J-Wick if he came to Rome to assassinate the Pope.

  48. Tell them…whoever comes….I’ll kill them

    I’ll kill them all

  49. About the pope. For a minute I got the vibe that the pope was in on the assasin/underworld game as well. I don’t know why.

  50. I don’t really mind his motivation for killing the sister being weak.

    This is just something Wick has to do before getting into what he really wants: killing the brother.

    I just love how dismissive Wick is halfway through the movie to him. He calls Wick and starts giving some bond villain monologue and Wick just hangs the phone in his face.

  51. Just got out of the theatre after seeing this and I wanted to add my thoughts as I rarely get to see movies at the cinema anymore!
    I loved that they opened the world whilst not convoluting the plot.
    I loved that nearly everything was shot in a master shot and Keanu Vs. Common looked like Keanu vs. Common. Compare it to something like Taken 3 where they edit so much around Neeson’s stunt doubles and you can really appreciate the clarity of the action.
    I thought that the bit where Wick and Cassian shoot at each other through the fountain was a bit reckless and irresponsible until they do it again in the subway, showing that they were totally aware of bystanders.
    I loved the different fighting styles used in the fight in the cab exchange and the fact he remembers he has a gun once the massive final guy deals to him.
    Reeves is one of my favourite action stars and for me John Wick can now stand proudly alongside Johnny Utah, Neo, and whatever his name was in Speed.

  52. I think Reeves name was Detective John Speed, don’t quote me on that though.

    For the second one I think Jason Patrick’s name was either Detective John Speed 2 or Detective Johnny Cruise or Detective John “Cruise” Control or Detective Speed 2: Cruise Control, can’t remember and don’t feel like going to IMDB or Wikipedia.

  53. I thought his name was Detective John Thebusthatcouldntslowdown.

  54. I’m tempted to do that Detective John Titleofthemovie schtick for every movie. It’s so good.

  55. But where does that leave Jason Patric of SPEED 2. Detective Jack Cruise-Control?

  56. Fred: I do it with the lead singers of bands too. Detective Jack Foreigner. Detective Jimmy Buzzcocks. Detective John “Duran” Duran.

  57. Shoot: Sandra Bullock is Det. Jane Speed2

  58. I think Detective John Thebusthatcouldntslowdown changed his name legally to John Speed simply because it was simpler to pronounce. His family name is originally Thebusthatcoulntslowdownski and are from Poland and John Speed´s family were famous for being fast bus drivers. This was a fact researched by Howard Payne, which makes his scheme so brilliant.

  59. Col. John Commando?

  60. Gabe Cliffhanger?

  61. Mike Manhunter. Dick Flashpoint. Lee Killzone. etc.etc.

  62. COMMANDO is one of the few where it doesn’t work, because you can’t top John Matrix.

  63. You’re right, John Matrix is perfect.

  64. “John Matrix” might have been the man’s name, but “John Commando” is the name of his biceps.

    Shoot, toy bootleggers already did it!

  65. (Picture is apparently not showing up, so here it is again

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet.

    )

  66. Robert Cop is even better!Well played third world toymakers!

  67. Saw this on Saturday, then came home and watched Jack Reacher 2 on ppv. In many ways, they are the same action subgenre: the grizzled badass with a particular set of skills who, unlike Bond, bleeds, gets his ribs broken, etc.

    Wick works so much better than Reacher, though, because of Keanu Reeves. He really is perfection in this part. Tom Cruise, almost the opposite. As I was watching Reacher, it almost felt like a send up of these kind of movies, it is so campy and over the top.

    Now, Wick also has going for it this very interesting backdrop of the secret society of assassins, which is much more enjoyable than the ex-military guy hitchhiking across the country.

    As for the argument regarding which is better, Wick 1 or 2, I think it is 1 by a long shot. Strictly as an action film, I think 2 has the better scenes, but 1 has a better story, better villains, packs much more of an emotional punch, etc. Maybe its cause I’m a dog person, but it gets me every time.

    But both of these flicks are great and I really wish they would have filmed Chapter 3 at the same time. Cannot wait to see it.

  68. Reached is supposed to be more cerebral. The violence in his stories is brutal, but short. Most of it is him using his brain, and deus ex machina skills that it turns out he always had right when he needs them.

  69. Howdy Vern – long-time reader, first time poster, etc. Figured it’s about time I joined the discussion for a current release instead of reading comments on old reviews wishing I’d been a part of it. I think this new John Wick is a good entry point for me, since it seems tailor-made for action aficionados such as myself, but still left me wanting a bit more.

    I think JW2 does so much right that it’s easy for me to see the places that it falls short (my mental Checklist of Badassery was completed in the first 15 minutes alone). It’s also one of the most beautiful-looking action movies I’ve ever seen (especially that finale in the house of mirrors). If I had to narrow down my criticism to a couple of issues, it’s that I feel like the action is too “clean,” or maybe too “light.” Too clean because every bullet fired hits its mark – I always appreciate a little (or a lot of) property damage in my gunfights. But Wick is almost more of a martial artist who uses guns as an extension of his limbs, so it makes sense that he aims with surgical precision. Wick shoots so many dudes in such short amounts of time that it’s hard to even keep track of everyone he mows down, which takes some of the fun out of watching a movie where a lot of the enjoyment comes from seeing the bad guys get shot in entertaining ways. Couple that with a decent number of mooks getting shot out of frame, and I start to wonder if this was an intentional way of getting us to view killing with the same detachment that Wick does. Considering there was a little more introspection going on here than most other pure action movies, I don’t think that’s too out of the question.

    As for the action being too light, a lot of that comes down to Wick’s fighting style, which is filmed with a clarity matched by few other action movies (has Vern given such a high ACR before?). However, the CQC style necessitates lots of CGI bloodwork to look this slick, and while great strides have been made in CGI bloodwork over the years, I think it still removes a significant visceral element that only squibs can provide. Speaking of squibs, the subway chase scene reminded me of a similar scene in Total Recall, and I was wondering if Wick and co. would resort to using innocent bystanders who got caught in the crossfire as human shields. Fortunately they’re more respectful than that, but it made me wonder if showing innocent bystanders popping open like pinatas would fly with modern audiences.

    Others have commented on the repetitive nature of the action scenes, and I definitely agree with that (too much of a good thing?). That’s one of the many reasons the intro scene stood out for me – I think there’s potential for more “cartial arts,” but maybe it’s best left as a novelty. Looking forward to seeing how they expand Wick’s fighting repertoire in John Wick: Chapter 3: Wax Wick!

    It’s almost unbelievable to me that these would be my gripes about a theatrically-released action movie in the Year of our Lord 2017, but then again these are strange times we are living in. I guess that speaks to the quality and expectations we have of modern action cinema.

    Thanks for the great sight, Vern! I hope to hang around a little more often.

  70. This movie just further solidified that this franchise is a more Americanized answer to the El Mariachi movies. Like DESPERADO this begins with an awesome “just how badass is he” speech but took it up a notch by including one of my favorite Action movie tropes; moving vehicles used as assault weapons. The action has been greatly escalated and the world building furthered like in DESPERADO compared to it’s predecessor but the way it raised the stakes at the end went above in beyond. I find it impossible with even conceptualizing any idea of a JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 because you just can’t got beyond what has been promised for Chapter 3.

    Haven’t gone to the movies in quite some time. Extremely glad that I made this the exception. Totally worth the hype. Keanu holding it down for our favorite genre as usual.

  71. I’m still trying to figure out if I liked this movie better than the first one or not. There’s more humor this time and it’s actually done well, so that’s a plus. Reeves is great as always, the story is interesting and gets the balance right of expanding on the universe without overexplaining it. There’s definitely MORE action but other than the They Live-style street fight with Common, I’m not sure if it’s actually better (it actually crosses the threshold into repetitiveness since Wick does the same finishing move WAY too many times). And yeah, jettisoning the emotional hook and simplicity of the first movie in favor of Shakespearean/Machiavellian power plays rarely turns out well (see: The Prequels, Chronicles of Riddick, etc…). In fact, the villain and his scheme was so political and impersonal, I feel they kinda wasted *SPOILER* John breaking the rule of the Continental on this weaselly doofus. Him breaking it for the guy who killed his dog, that I can see.

    It’s about 20 minutes too long, the hall of mirrors fight climax seems underwritten, and can we have a John Wick movie with a satisfying final fight please? I thought the fight against Viggo seemed one-sided but it’s practically Rocky IV compared to Reeves tossing around what appears to be a 12 year old. Ruby Rose is like half a foot shorter than Reeves and at least 50 lbs lighter, they could have at least established her badassery the way they did Ms. Perkins (an easily superior villainess) if they were going to save her for the final fight. If they simply rejiggered the script and placed the second fight with Common between the fight with Rose and Wick walking back into the hotel, this would have a way more satisfying end (not to mention the two Common fights are way too close together)

    This is all nitpicking of course – I kinda feel the same way about these movies that I do about the Nolan Batmans – they’re so good and so close to perfection that the little flaws end up bugging me more than they would in a total crapfest. I don’t want to sound like a grump because I really enjoyed the movie and can’t wait for John Wick 3.

  72. I don’t think it’s nitpicking.

    I don’t like this movie as much as the first. Now, don’t get me wrong – I really like John Wick 2. But this is a weaker film.

    The first problem is that it has too much of the same action beats. Wick judos a guy, flips him on the floor, shoots a guy coming in off screen, shoots the guy he judo’d. Probably happens a dozen times. Started to wear thin. John Wick 3 needs something beyond mowing down mooks and the occasional boss fight.

    I’m sorry to say that I feel they pushed the Assassin World angle too far into flashy public extravagance. John Wick 1 really felt like a society operating at the margins. John Wick 2 makes the world seem people entirely peopled by assassins, their handlers and helpers, and uninitiated bystanders who watch them kill each other with their mouths agape.

    I really do appreciate the production design of these movies and the feel of an old Americana and classic culture lurking beneath the surface (the suits, the weird call center with the old-timey-yet-modern women, the meetings in smoking rooms to sign off on old-style ledgers with bloody thumbprints) but ultimately I can’t help but feel that all this fancy shmancy window dressing is there to hide the hollow middle of this franchise. The (deliberate) human-shaped-void at the center of these movies that is the character of John Wick – who exists only as a broadly-sketched outline that is filled with righteous vengeance and regret – is going to get more and more noticeable in the sequels. Wick is thin, and deliberately so – he’s a likable vessel for asskicking but ultimately the longer we spend with this guy the more obvious his polite paper-thinness is going to get. So while it only mildly bothered me in John Wick 2 (and not at all in John Wick 1), if we’re still doing the totally understated assassin working with fun character actors to buzzsaw his way through mooks and meanies in John Wick 3 with cool 3-gun systems and judo then what exactly is the point? We got that in spades. And I just don’t know if these guys are up to taking it to the next level.

    Even if they don’t I still love John Wick 1 and really like John Wick 2. Two data points isn’t a trend but I hope this doesn’t become one of those franchises where I start with “oh yeah the first one is the best and they never topped it”.

  73. Finally, I have seen this, and holy shit, you guys above this post, you’re right: a seriously good sequel that is not quite as fantastic as part one but very nearly and never mind it’s pretty fantastic.

    I loved the world building and the touches of absurdism: both were present and correct in JW1 of course but here they are more to fore and that’s both a plus and a minus. I’m slightly worried that JW3: LONE WICK AND PUP could tip into silliness.

    Case in point: Some of the new characters – great stuff but I’m wondering if some were a little much. I dunno. Need to sleep on it. There were so many of them that I’m sure I missed some.

    (We should keep a list of them on here. Call it Wickipedia.)

    That said, I’d love a JOHN HOBO: HOMELESS ASSASSIN spin-off.

    (BTW, when watching the Wick/Cassian fight on the subway, it hit me: THE WARRIORS! There’s a Warriors influence to the wide, wacky world of Wick, I think).

  74. There are a couple of comments about the “jiu-jutsu flip, hold and shoot” thing being repeated, which is true, and bugged me a bit. But when you think about it, everyone has a few moves they use over and over when they fight (the Dan Henderson H-Bomb, Rousey’s armbar, Vitor Belfort’s blitz, Cyborg eating souls). It makes sense Wick would do the same thing multiple times as he goes.

    I also thought Ruby Rose was a completely useless villain. She did nothing to earn the final fight, and I’m glad it only lasted about a minute, because that’s as long as she would/could last, given the lack of differentiating skills shown, and the size difference.

  75. On Friday CHAPTER 2WO opens in Sweden. Pretty hyped!

  76. Shoot, will you be able to get into the theater, past all the immigrants committing crime and causing yuge problems?

  77. I´ll fend them off with kindness and a baseball bat.

  78. karlos – yeah Chapter 2 really does cement the Warriors vibe that Chapter 1 only hinted at. The heightened/fantasy-world New York setting, the prominent subway scenes, the Shakespearean powerplay/assassination that sets our hero up as a fall guy, the colorful and gimmicky opponents out to get him, even the hipster switchboard operators that basically did the role of the DJ in the Warriors, it’s all here.

    Which is funny since I just now noticed David Patrick Kelly from The Warriors wasn’t in Chapter 2! I think he’s the only surviving cast member from 1 (besides the gorgeous bartender) to not re-appear. Hopefully they’ll pop up in 3.

  79. Right on, Neal2Zod.

    I heard DPK is listed on imdb as being in JW2: THE WICKENING, but, like you, I sure didn’t spot him.

  80. Great sequel on many levels. I have very little to add. I think the actionsequences were a little drawn out compared to the first one and as a result a little bit more repetetive. But it was fine. I wante dmore anyway, so why the fuck am I complaining.

    One thing, the Commodore 64. Jesus. I never thought I´d see one of those in films again.

  81. I wonder, the way he hides those guns in the tunnels and how he collect them on his escape rout, if that was an intentional reference to the restaurant scene in A BETTER TOMORROW

  82. There is a certain aestethic videogame aspect of the choreography that I find fascinating of the JOHN WICK-films. The “quickchange” of targets is appropriated from the first person shooters combined with the more intimate judo/jiu jitsu/MMA aspects of cinema. The first one even had scenes of first person shooters to illustrate what JOHN WICK was all about..Within that scenario fisrt person shooters was fun for some until the people who played them were shot.

    I love the concert scene in part two, when John jumps unto the scene, starts killing people, and the audience starts to cheer as they think it is part of the show. This movie illustrates, like the first one that what we see is indicative of the context of what we are seeiing it is impertive for our understanding of what is going on. Therefore we see fun in a show even though it is real. If this was supposed to be real, would we still have laughed?

    The guy in the first film who played video games the same way John Wick shot people, he himself got shot. Boundaries are broken, and what do we learn? The distance of the targets make them impersonal.Watching the film we think just as little of the people playing the games as the people playing the games shooting people. Jesus…..I think I am getting a migrain.

    I am drunk right now,

  83. On the topic of fight scenes, i really didn’t mind all the Judo throws.

    I’m a judo fan, so i felt like where at its core, John was doing the same “throw 1 dude, shoot two others, them finish the dude you’re pinning” routine probably way too many times, there was enough variation in those throws and pinning combinations that i really didn’t mind it.

    I did not like though, parts of the first shootout, where you can’t see the opponents, or you can only see their flashlights before they were shot down.

    On an unrelated note, John Wick Chapter 2 has probably my favorite sequel hook in a movie.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>