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John
McClane. Jason Bourne. James Bond. Ellen Ripley. These guys (and gal)
better watch their backs, because there’s a new action hero on the
scene, and for my money, he could take all three of them, no problem.
With 2014’s ‘John Wick’, director Chad Stahelski created an original,
authentic, and relentless tale of revenge without a dose of modern-day
irony most action films contain these days. It came out of nowhere, and
added yet another budding franchise to Keanu Reeves already impressive
catalogue of hits. With the sequel, Wick 2 improves on the original in
every possible way. The action is better, the directing is better, the
story is more complex and interesting (even if the stakes aren’t as
relatable this time). Writer Derek Kolstad also continues the series
tradition of building a hugely interesting world that these mysterious
assassins inhabit. John Wick 2 solidifies this series as the best new
mid-budget action franchise to hit theaters in at least a decade.

So
if you know anything at all about the John Wick series, you know that
some bad dudes killed his dog, and he wasn’t too happy about it. After
getting his revenge the first time around, he’s back to being somewhat
out of the assassin game at the beginning of Wick 2. It doesn’t last
long, as an old associate of his comes around to have John make good on a
blood oath he’d made years before. This forces him reluctantly back
into the fold, and things get more and more complicated from there. What
I love that this series does, and continues in spades in Wick 2, is
build the world of these international assassins with so many details,
almost like it’s based on a pre-existing property. I told some friends
that it feels like the best comic book movie not actually based on a
comic book. I can’t wait to see how the series expands even further in
the (hopefully never-ending) sequels, especially with the completely
insane way this movie wraps things up (or doesn’t).

There’s
a reason why this series is resonating with people (and this one more
than doubled the originals opening box office gross.) It’s an action
series that knows exactly what it’s doing, who it’s audience is, and how
to please them from start to finish. I talked up top about the
post-modern irony that a lot of modern action films suffer from (or
thrive in). What John Wick does so well (and why I think it clicks with
people) is that it’s so damn authentic and sincere about what it wants
to be. This isn’t an insanely self-serious Michael Bay movie, or even an
unabashedly ridiculous romp like the Fast and the Furious movies. The
creators of John Wick just want to have a badass dude doing badass
things, and to do it with style. No more, no less.

When
it comes to style, this movie is overflowing with it. The first already
established this universe as a sleek, well-dressed and colorful world
of assassins, and the sequel doubles down on that aesthetic. So many
sequences of this movie are intoxicating for the senses, especially the
catacombs/concert battle in the first act, and the final showdown, which
I’m trying my hardest not to talk about and spoil. This movie doesn’t
reinvent the action movie wheel, but it’s a damn vibrant and beautiful
wheel. Stahelski hadn’t directed prior to the first John Wick (having a
long career as a stunt man and choreographer) and that’s why it’s so
surprising that he speaks the language of cinema so fluently. While the
action scenes are understandably gorgeous and easy to follow, even the
character moments in between (however brief) are interesting and loaded
with subtext. The scene between Wick and Cassian (Common) at the bar
stands toe-to-toe with the best action scenes the movie has to offer.
This guy is a director to keep and eye on, whether he’s doing a John
Wick sequel, an established franchise (he wants to do a Bond film!) or
eventually another new action franchise. If John Wick 2 is any
indication, this guy is going to blow our minds for years to come, and
not just with a bullet to the head.

That’s
about it for John Wick 2, and I honestly can’t wait to check it out a
second time. I’ve seen the first probably 5 or 6 times and I’m sure the
sequel wont be any different. I also wanted to say, this will likely be
one of the last posts on the blog…BECAUSE I’M MOVING TO MY OWN WEBSITE
YEEEEEEUHHHH! I’m getting all that set up and looking professional, and
when it’s done, you’ll definitely hear from me about it. As far as
upcoming reviews, keep an eye out for Logan, possibly Lego Batman, and
I’m considering doing an Oscars article after that airs on the 26th. As
usual, I’d appreciate you telling your friends about the blog, and
thanks for reading my review of John Wick 2!

 

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