John Wick Chapter 2 Review

When “John Wick” came out in October of 2014, it took everyone by surprise with it’s sleek styling, bombastic violence, and unquestionable cool factor. “John Wick” was a simple film that didn’t try to overstay its welcome, got right to the point, and added an invigorating attention to detail that modern action films tend to ignore for an increase in over the top explosions. It had an impressive body count and even more impressive style. When it was announced that there would be a “John Wick Chapter 2” I couldn’t have been more excited.

Many sequels fall short of their originals because they try so hard to be different that they stray away from the qualities that made the original so good. “John Wick Chapter 2” doesn’t have this issue at all. It has all the similar themes and cool style of the original with even more violence, more stunts, and a slightly more complex plotline. Admittedly, the dialogue the first ten minutes of this film is absolutely atrocious, the fight sequences seem to come straight from a Batman movie, and the film quickly moves past the clunky exposition and on to what makes this franchise great.

The choreography of the action sequences is done so well and the intense preparation that Keanu Reeves put into the roll pays off with an added sense of realism to the action. It manages to be creative with each kill as the body count soon becomes too high to handle. The original had great action but this film arguably has even better moments of intense violence.

The dialogue does improve from the opening 10 minutes but is never going to be Oscar-caliber work. And the film realizes this when one character pokes fun at John for being a man of few words. The film knows its success lies in the action and not the dialogue, keeping the conversations short yet impactful and full of the necessary information we need to understand why fifty people have been assassinated in the last half an hour.

The plotline has a few more characters than the original and a more complex path of growth for our main character. John was a relatively stagnant character in the original film, but here we see glimpses of him questioning his sense of purpose with what he really wants out of his life while simultaneously showing a growing emotional rage that came across as more cold-blooded in the previous entry. Hopefully, this development will be improved upon even further in the third film, which given the ending will most certainly happen.

The style in the last half an hour is gorgeous to look at and every production designer’s dream as John fights an army of henchman through a room of reflective mirrors. It’s not a new concept (“Man With the Golden Gun” had a similar climax) but it is utilized to full effect to make for a brilliantly satisfying ending.

It’s hard to say whether I like this film or the original more. I like the denser plot and the final thirty minutes was truly great. But I enjoy the consistently better style of the original and less painful dialogue. This sequel has more noticeable pitfalls but also better highs that ultimately round out to a similarly satisfying experience. Anyone who liked the original will like this film and even those who missed the original would still get an enjoyable experience from this entry. It is a lovely complement to the original and sets up a highly anticipated ending.

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017): 3/4 stars

February Film Review

Historically, February is the time of year when the world of cinema is focused on wrapping up the awards circuit rather than releasing quality films. This month is typically the downtime between Oscar season and the start of the summer blockbuster releases. Films that have incredibly low quality plague the month of February and it’s a time where most film fanatics can take a break. But for some reason this year was different.

Contrary to tradition, there were a handful of quality films to be released this past month that everyone needs to check out if they went under your radar. Three films received highly positive reviews from critics: “The Lego Batman Movie,” “John Wick: Chapter 2” and “Get Out”.

“The Lego Batman Movie” looks to build on the success of its predecessor, “The Lego Movie,” which was a surprise hit with critics and audiences in 2014. This new film’s themes don’t resonant as deep as the original, but with Batman at its focus, it’s a far more enjoyable experience than say “Batman V Superman.”

“John Wick” was one of my favorite action film a few years ago. It was sleek, stylish, classy, and overall, fun as hell. It’s everything you could ever need from a revenge assassin film. If you missed “John Wick” when it came out, do yourself a favor and watch while also getting in line to see “John Wick: Chapter 2.” This film doesn’t try to do anything different; it only focuses on more action, more style and more fun. What more could you ask for? Answer: nothing.

Finally, “Get Out” is a metaphorical horror/thriller from Jordan Peele, famous for his roll on the Comedy Central show “Key and Peele.” Peele is known for being a comedic mind, so when I found out he was going to be directing a horror film that revolved around themes of racial oppression, I thought it was going to be overly preachy and eventually fall short of any substantial quality. Turns out I was wrong. Peele uses his creative satirical mind to enhance this horror film into a more dense and self-aware storyline than most horror films. This continues the American horror film resurgence of recent years alongside films like “It Follows,” “The Babadook,” and “Don’t Breathe.” Hopefully “slasher” films are out and intelligence horror films are here to stay.

Is the February curse over? I’m not sold but I hope these three films can continue to improve cinematic executives’ opinion of a releasing a quality film in this historical lame duck month. We’ll all be better off for it!