What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.
Note: Profanity included. Pictures will be added when I’m on my laptop, not on a toilet on my phone at work…
To The Numerous Fans of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, Who Baffle Me With Their Tastes:
Y’all are kidding me, right? Y’all are in on this together, just to make me upset, yes? Cause I’m upset.
So what the hell am I missing with this whole “John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 are, like, actually good movies!” phase? I shrugged after John Wick, but chalked my disappointment up to seeing it on my tiny television with trash speakers, rather than in theaters. So, of course, I see Chapter 2 in theaters (and not only in theaters, but in glorious XD (!) just to be certain) only to find it does next to nothing for me. Is there something wrong with me? Sure. But is there something wrong with all of you, you consumers of film, for loving this schlock? Maybe? Don’t mistake my anger for real anger. I’m genuinely glad you liked this movie. But I didn’t. Here’s why:
(hit CONTINUE READING to read why)
Can we start by agreeing on something, though? The second half of this movie is the superior half. You might argue that that’s the case because most of the “badass” action takes place after the midpoint, but I’d argue that it’s because the first half is an absolute snooze. After the opening set piece… (in which we learn that the Bad Guys’ fighting skills are remarkably atrocious [Why does no one have a gun? Why are you running at John Wick one at a time? Someone must have a gun! YOU ARE ALL CRIMINALS! SHOOT HIM IN THE FACE!!], and that John Wick is, quite literally, invincible [the dude gets run over by a fucking CAR, and then proceeds to kick more ass], which both only serve to diminish every subsequent action sequence because I never fear for this unstoppable force of nature when he’s opposed by utter dunces)… so after all that, we’re given almost NOTHING in the way of action for the next 45 minutes. How is this possible in an action movie that’s directed by a stuntman? (Perhaps because Derek Kolstad is a trash screenwriter whose only notable credits are this and, you guessed it, John Wick?)
And then even when we do get action (and oh BOY is the second half full of it, thank the Lord), is it really that good? I mean, okay, some of it is good, in the sense that we get a fair number of oners (props, there) and it’s in your face, and loud, and lots of people die… and there’s some pretty solid moves… and there’s guns?… I don’t know.
I had a challenging time getting over the fact that the whole thing felt a bit too much like a video game, in the sense that unless you can see your antagonist on screen, he is not a threat. Truly, John Wick only kills people that we can see. It’s kind of like those arcade zombie games, where the zombie isn’t really in the house until he pops out at you, and you can see he’s a threat, and then you just have to pop him before he eats your face. Though these zombies (meaning the people trying to kill John Wick) have guns, they’re just too slow about aiming and firing weapons… at least markedly slower than John Wick is, which makes some sense cause John Wick is badass, but these guys are also professional assassins, so why can’t they be reasonably good at what they do? (Side Note: There are so many assassins!)
I also want to point out that, despite the oners, this really is not engagingly shot in the slightest. There’s very little sense of perspective. Most of the frames feel pretty flat. They don’t establish or add to anything regarding character dynamics. It’s the work of an amateur tasked with something far too vast for which he can even conceive. (Here, again, we have someone whose only notable credit as a cinematographer is one worthwhile film, that being Crimson Peak, which, FWIW, I didn’t see.)
But I don’t have to tell you that the story is ridiculously dumb, right? Or that the characters are ridiculously dumb? But do I have to tell you that, thematically, there is absolutely nothing going on here, which is ridiculously dumb? Goodness, at least John Wick poked at something resembling what it means to be an assassin who doesn’t want to be an assassin anymore. Here, we just tread that same ground, however mundane, as a means to an end (or, so that we can get to the action). There are moments where director Chad Stehlenski attempts to throw in some emotional bits about Keanu’s wife, and if you’re not just like, “No, stop,” then I’m like, “No, stop, don’t talk to me,” because I can’t deal with people like you.
Sure, I guess you could argue that they are exploring the theme of Assassin Too Entrenched In Assassinating To Get Out by bluntly setting up a Chapter 3 in which (SPOILER) the entire Gomorrah will come after John Wick… but it’s just another means to an end. It’s just there so that they can make more action that has no real substance. This is action for the sake of special effects, and stunts, but not story or character or emotion or anything substantial and worth your brain power. I guess it’s kind of like the Fast and Furious movies, which just makes me think: Why do people like those Fast and Furious movies, anyway? I guess I’m just not hip and with it.
My saving grace, in times of trouble, though, is always Keanu Reeves. He’s always perfect… but perfect can have so many different definitions here. He’s perfect in The Matrix, because they needed someone to play the serious-wide-eyed-dummy who could just roll with all the crazy shit happening. He’s perfect in Speed, because he tries so hard to make that character interesting (he’s so damn TWITCHY) but horribly miscalculates, and thus establishes that film as one of the pinnacle achievements of Hollywood conservative blockbuster cinema of the 90s. And he’s perfect in Thumbsucker, in which that character is obviously ridiculous, so why not get someone as ridiculous as Keanu to play him?
And here, in Chapter Two, he almost kind of works as well, but just because he’s so clearly trying so hard, and taking everything so seriously, just like everyone else who’s involved in the project… so at the end it’s just kind of sad that no one realizes that what they made is something that’s really just not that good, or not that interesting. Well. At least to a viewer like me.
Oh, and I didn’t even talk about the misogyny in this thing.
But everyone else fucking loves this movie, so fuck me, right?