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Movie Review: “John Wick: Chapter 2”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

John Wick: Chapter 2

Theatrical Release: 2/10/2017

Theatrical Release: 2/10/2017

Synopsis

His wife is dead, his dog is dead, and he has exacted his revenge. Now it is time for him to get out of the assassin business once and for all, but John Wick quickly learns that he has opened a jar that will not be so easy to close. An old acquaintance named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) has reached out to John Wick, asking for him to repay a blood debt. In the assassin community, a blood debt is incurred when one assassin does a favor for another.

In return for the favor, the assassin that asked for the favor gives the other a token. This token may be redeemed at anytime, and it can be redeemed to do anything that the person desires. Should the assassin refuse, they are breaking a vow that is severely frowned upon in the assassin community and is even punishable by death. John Wick just wants to retire in peace, but he quickly finds himself in Rome with a massive bounty on his head. John Wick is on a mission to clear his name, but he must defend himself against countless reputable assassins who hope to collect the bounty.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Action (+10pts)

The Plot (-3pts)

Ian McShane (+4pts)

John Wick (-3pts)

Ruby Rose (+3pts)

The Stakes (-3pts)

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Pro: The Action (+10pts)

Much like its predecessor, the action in John Wick: Chapter 2 was outstanding. The plot of the movie set countless assassins against John Wick, while John had a violent mission of his own. The result was John Wick slaughtering legions of baddies. There was a ton of awesome action in this movie, and a number of these sequences included moments that were unexpectedly brutal and massively entertaining.

The pencil moment was fantastic—you will know it when you see it—but what stuck with me was the way that the filmmakers showed John Wick taking down multiple assailants at once. These scenes were just really cool to watch. Having so much action in any movie can easily start to make the action feel over-saturated and redundant, but there were plenty of unique action moments to keep me engaged. Too many filmmakers also utilize shaky cam to make the action feel hectic. With John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, the filmmakers put in the necessary effort to perfect the action, and they made it feel intense without resorting to shaky cam. The result was very simply a second movie in this franchise that was filled with awesome action.

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Con: The Plot (-3pts)

It unfortunately seemed like the filmmakers focused on delivering great action, but they phoned it in when it came to the plot. John Wick pulled audiences into the main character’s revenge story. Sure, the filmmakers used the easiest way to do this by having a puppy get killed, but the result was a movie where audiences sympathized with the main character, had an emotional connection to his pain, and wanted to see him exact violent justice on the people responsible. It was a simple plot, but audiences were invested in it. Unfortunately, with John Wick: Chapter 2, I do not think the filmmakers were able to achieve a plot that was that engaging.

We got a plot where the main character was reluctantly pulled into a mission, and he really had nothing to lose. John Wick did not really care about the mission that he was on. He was just going through the motions. Unfortunately, it felt like the filmmakers were just going through the motions just like John Wick was. In other words, it was a generic action movie plot. How were we, as an audience, supposed to care about the mission if the main character did not? While the action was fantastic, the plot connecting the action scenes was generic and I thought it lacked the weight that was necessary to get audiences truly invested in it.

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Pro: Ian McShane (+4pts)

Ian McShane has a way of always delivering captivating performances. I honestly do not know exactly what it is, but I am always more interested when he is on screen. John Wick: Chapter 2 was no different. In this movie, Ian McShane played Winston who was an acquaintance and mentor to John Wick, but he was also somewhat of a mystery.

As an audience, we never really knew where this character’s allegiances were, but he usually ended up on John Wick’s side. The character was also important as he explained the Continental hotel, blood debts, and other relevant parts of the movie. I always got the impression that this character was powerful, and very much in control, although he did not let the other characters know it. This was a mysterious character played by a captivating actor, and while the filmmakers did not use him a whole lot in this movie, he was still a memorable character that added an interesting layer to this story.

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Con: John Wick (-3pts)

One of my favorite parts of the previous movie was something that many other fans loved too. John Wick was a feared man in the assassin and criminal community. Did every single criminal know who John Wick was? No, but those who did definitely did not want to be on his bad side. This created a very unique tone in the first movie, because the powerful antagonists feared the protagonist, and it went a long way in letting the audience know just how dangerous John Wick was. There was nothing they could do to stop him from coming for them, and they knew it. With John Wick: Chapter 2 the filmmakers threw that concept out the window.

It seemed that every assassin wanted a piece of John Wick. Sure, I get that he had a massive bounty on his head, but in the last movie, no one in their right mind would have gone after him if they knew who he was. I am all for filmmakers switching things up between movies, but there was no justifiable reason for why John Wick no longer instilled fear in people who knew who he was. It felt like lazy writing to not explain this, but it also diminished how the audience viewed John Wick's capabilities.

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Pro: Ruby Rose (+3pts)

I will make this point short and sweet, but Ruby Rose’s presence was worth mentioning. The character did not do a whole lot in the movie, but Ruby Rose had a great screen presence, which made this character feel like a believable threat. Again, the character did not do much to justify this, but Ruby Rose was able to make her character feel that way regardless. It was just nice to have at least one antagonist that felt like more than a nameless, faceless goon for John Wick to kill.

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Con: The Stakes (-3pts)

I have already touched on this topic while explaining my issues with the plot, but my problem with the stakes in this movie was that there were not any. The filmmakers made it very clear that John Wick had nothing left to lose. Thus, in addition to not being invested in the mission itself, I was also not that worried about whether or not John Wick survived, because I felt like that was actually what he wanted. Fortunately, the action in this movie will be enough to distract you from this, because it was pretty darn awesome, just like it was in the last movie. I just thought the filmmakers could have gotten us more invested in this story if they gave John Wick something to lose.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

I thought that the highly anticipated sequel to John Wick fell a little short of recapturing the magic from the first movie. Yes, the action was great, and well choreographed, but it was lacking the emotional weight that the first one had. I did not expect this movie to have a deep, thought provoking plot, but I thought the filmmakers did a poor job of motivating John Wick. He did not really care about what he was doing, which made it hard for me to care about it.

John Wick had the simple plot of revenge over the death of the main character’s puppy. It was a very simple plot, but it was great because it struck a chord with the audience. John Wick: Chapter 2 did not have that, and to make things worse the filmmakers threw away the concept of fear that other characters had toward the titular character. No one feared John Wick anymore, and there was no explanation for it. Fortunately, this was an action movie. As such, the plot is not incredibly important. What is important is the action, and the action in this movie was as great as it was in the last movie. Thus, while it was not quite as good, I still thought this was a decent follow-up to John Wick.