I wanted to like this movie. No, I wanted to LOVE this movie. Every male around me who’s seen it raves about it! My father, my classmates, even the random dude I talked to in an Uber last week all say the same thing: “This movie is ‘Merica. From start to finish there’s death and destruction and you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth!” So did I get my 25 cents worth? (that’ the remainder I paid after emptying my final AMC gift card 😥 ), of course! Would I have gotten my $13 worth if I paid full price though? No. And it’s not because of the lack of action or skilled actors, both were present. Instead it was due to Hollywood’s lazy copy and paste forward mentality. So damn you John Wick!
This movie is the literal definition of creation by formula. For reference, here’s the brief elevator pitch of the first movie. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was hands down the best assassin for hire through a secret organization. His wife unexpectedly passes away so he vanishes/retires to live a quiet life with a new puppy. Now introduce a**hole gang-banger son of mob-boss who pummels John while he kills his dog, and you’ve got yourself a revenge movie! So I’ll give Hollywood that one. Simple, fresh, darker tone, outstanding action with Keanu made a great first movie. However, like most serial films, if it worked for the first why can’t it work for the second ESPECIALLY if it’s done bigger and better? Because it doesn’t.
I try not to do this, but for me to properly release steam I have to describe specific scenes and therefore this paragraph is spoiler heavy. From start to end it’s either copy/paste or just plain silly. John begins by killing a bunch of thugs with overly complex and impractical MMA moves only to drink Vodka with the boss from the first movie. Definitely needed that transition. Just saying. Then back to his uber modern home where we’re greeted by a new dog, obviously fake 2nd retirement and a new villain. Let me just say it’s just plain annoying when the lead character makes a blatant dumb choice and you instantaneously know he’s going to regret them. Example: villain offers job to John clearly stating that if he declines it, he’ll kill him. What do you think John does? Accept the shitty job and continue on with his life or say no when there’s 20 thugs waiting outside his front door? Exactly. Option B. From there proceeds your classic find & kill the bad guy and his entourage of clowns using your bulletproof suit and ridiculous overly tactical shooting stance where you hold every gun at a 45 degree angle. Seriously!?
The two supporting characters were either love or hate. You have the rapper Common who they force to speak Italian. Really, Common & Italian? I didn’t want to hear that on screen and it honestly sounded horrible. While the action scenes between him and John were surprisingly fluid and tense, whenever he opened his mouth and subtitles appeared I simply wanted to disappear. Then there’s your generic tough white girl (Ruby Rose) with short hair, tattoo’s, happened to play the same role in another movie released AT THE SAME TIME (XxX) so they decided to make her character mute so she’s forced to sign John since that’s clearly more BA… the cliches in this movie were excruciating! Her character in Hollywood is simply exhausted. Suggestion: either cast some non-mainstream yet highly talented vixen who can actually shoot a gun (Aria Song) or literally any attractive female UFC fighter who could beat up Keanu Reeves & Common combined in the ring (Miesha Tate) for a fresh face on screen.
Finally what got to me was the blatant stupidity and laziness of John’s fellow assassins. There are numerous scenes when he walks past them, they draw their weapon behind him and shot him, not in the head, but rather the back multiple times (remember it’s bullet proof) giving John enough time to turn, draw and return fire with a perfect headshot. For 2 hours its literally they can’t shoot but I can. I run out of bullets right after the last enemy giving me just enough time to reload before more show up. I’m the energizer bunny and can run after being shot 39 times but I punch someone in their chest and they’re dead. I simply exhausted my “ok, I’ll give you that” excuse for this film.
While there was a lot to complain about with the movie, here were my highlights. Seeing the call center where the 1/2 model 1/2 felon secretary staff sends out texts using archaic Microsoft DOS computers and physical 1950’s switch boards was sick! The return of the great Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) was fun and their interaction was brief enough to be memorable but not painful. The car chase scenes were excellent and any drifting, although unnecessary, were performed and shot well. Finally, one suggestion Hollywood, shotgun reloading is boring. Really boring. I wasted moments of my life watching John reload his shotty round by round. Either use shotgun magazines that hold 20+ rounds or better yet, be the first on mainstream film to use speed loaders. In one motion you’ve got 6+ fresh rounds to play with. Just food for thought.
While the overall tone of this review was critical, overall I did somewhat enjoy it. The movie ended at 1am and I unfortunately dozed off for a couple seconds here and there between all the talking and the tie in for the next film. Most reviewers seem to dislike the ending but I didn’t mind it. Better set the sequel up now then have a crispy clean ending which you have to disassemble at the start of the next. This to me is a ‘rent’ and I do kinda look forward to the next one. I’ll include 2 bonus clips below: One is Keanu absolutely killing it at the gun range in preparation for the first movie and the second is a fake trailer for what the first movie would have looked like if the bad guys had killed John instead of the dog 😉 . Enjoy!
Update: My friend ‘Rho’ suggested I provide a clearer explanation as to why this movie received its score (6/10) and not lower. Personally, for my movie scoring system/scale, one of my firm beliefs is that if I’m grading a major blockbuster film featuring A-list celebrities, huge budgets, non-sloppy CGI, solid action scenes in an overall polished state, it would be near impossible for me to score it under a 5/10. A director and production crew would have to blatantly leave something out or F-something up to seemingly deserve less than this. Even something like Transformers 2, 3, and soon to be 4, I would not rate under a 5. In viewing those movies I still believe my $10 went somewhere and while the plot might totally suck and be a rehash of every prior movie, I was still entertained. The films star (now) Mark Wahlberg, some of the best CGI in the business, you know what you’re getting into when strolling through the doors and they don’t do anything to piss me off, making me regret buying my movie ticket. While I did nit-picked ‘John Wick 2’ rather hard, this movie completed its goal as being an modern day over the top action movie. I obviously would have taken some redirections in the script but I unfortunately am not in that position. So I can only sit back, b**** through my keyboard in the hopes someone in cyberspace reads (and potentially agrees) with my opinions. And on that note, till next time John Wick!
Currently 90% Reviewers, 89% Viewers – Rotten Tomatoes