It was three years ago that I saw an ad for a Keanu Reeves movie called John Wick pop up on my Spotify account. It had been awhile since I had seen something of his that I liked (i.e., 2005’s Constantine), but I said to myself, “This looks cool. I’m there opening weekend.”
Fast-forward t0 2017. We now have John Wick 2, thanks to good word-of-mouth that made the original hit. The first film pulled in $89 million globally on a $20 million budget, and John Wick: Chapter 2 has already amassed $90 million in two weeks. That’s because Reeves, director Chad Stahelski, and writer Derek Kolstad have offered fans a little bit more of everything the liked the first time around — cool cars, cool guns, and cool fights — while still managing to expand the universe in fun ways.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so all I will say is that this film mainly serves as a bridge to what I’m assuming will be a finale of epic proportions. The last film sent a message that we cannot escape the repercussions of our past sins while JW: Chapter 2 emphasizes that attempting to solve violence through violence usually exacerbates the problem. The main character desperately wants to leave the lifestyle of evil behind, but that is next to impossible since he spent years building up a reputation as “Death’s emissary.”
Long story short, if you enjoyed the first movie then you probably should do yourself a favor and check out this one. Laurence Fishburne reunites with Reeves in grand fashion, Common does an excellent job as “Cassian,” and the ending has a well-done homage to Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon.
If you’re an action-movie fan who still needs more convincing, then head on over to Conservative Book Club for a more extensive review that I wrote up last week.
Cool cars. Cool guns. Cool fight scenes and fighting styles, and Keanu Reeves kicking butt. If you thought that sounded like a recipe for fun times at the movies when the trailer for John Wick came out, then you were right. For 1 hour and 36 minutes, former hit man John Wick piles up an astronomical body count because the son of a mob boss killed the last gift given to him by his wife — his dog.
Before I entered the movie theater, an older man exiting the previous showing walked by me and said “Stupidest movie ever. There was no characterization.” The man missed the entire point of the movie, which came when Russian mobster Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) finally captures Mr. Wick.
Viggo Tarasov: “And when you left and the way you got out — lying to yourself that the past held no sway over the future — but in the end the lot of us are rewarded for our misdeeds, which is why God took your wife and unleashed you upon me. This life follows you. It links to you, affecting everyone who comes close to you. We are cursed, you and I.
John Wick: On that, we agree.
The point of the movie was not to see John Wick become a better man because the audience already knows that he tried that. He got out of the “business,” got married, and lived a normal life until his wife died of cancer. But prior to that he led a morally bankrupt life. The price of sin is pain and ultimately death, and Mr. Wick knows it.
Audiences are not particularly supposed to like John Wick. They are, however, supposed to like that evil was blown up, shot, punched, kicked, stabbed, run over and destroyed every time it showed up on screen.
The weakest part of John Wick was its ending, because Hollywood went with an upbeat resolution instead of an ending the story demanded. One could make a plausible argument that the main character atoned for many of his sins by killing the monster he helped create — and therefore deserved another shot at life — but the script begged its writers to finish him off after his final confrontation with Viggo.
Overall, if you’re looking for a solid anti-hero film that didn’t get much publicity, then John Wick is a movie worth seeing. Keanu Reeves looks great, he delivers action sequences as if he were 30 instead of 50, and the whole movie exudes “cool.” As an added bonus, the movie suggests that this generation should shy away from its narcissistic, self-centered impulses and embrace the kind of moral codes that the “old guard” lived by; there must be a certain chivalry — even among liars — to keep systems from collapsing.
If you’ve seen John Wick, then let me know what you think in the comments section below. I thought it was well worth the price of admission and hope Mr. Reeves gets more work because of it.