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Saturday, March 4, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

** SPOILERS **

BLAM!
BLAM!
BLAM!
BLAM!
BLAM!
Good dog.
BLAM!
BLAM!
KABLAMMO!

These are the main takeaways from the stylishly redundant John Wick: Chapter 2. Picking up more or less where the original John Wick left off, Keanu Reeves returns as the title character - the world's most dangerous and unkillable assassin/dog lover. Whereas before, John Wick goes on a murderous rampage against the Russian mafia for killing his beautiful, beloved, sweet little beagle, in Chapter 2, it's the Italians who are making life miserable for John Wick. At least they have the good sense to leave John Wick's new dog alone. The Italians aren't about to make the same mistake the Russians did; they'll make all their own mistakes.

Chapter 2 deepens the mythology of the various assassins in the John Wick universe. Basically, there are two types of people in this universe: there are assassins, which comprise roughly 50% of the population of New York and Rome, and there are the regular people who aren't assassins and are somehow completely oblivious to everyone around them who is an assassin, even when these assassins are shooting at each other in full view in shopping malls, subway platforms, and on trains. John Wick limps around New York and Rome covered in blood for the entire movie and no one bats an eye. No one except for the assassins out to kill him and collect the $7-million bounty the slimy head of the Italian Mafia, Riccardo Scamarcio, placed on John Wick's head. John Wick owes Scamarcio a debt when he got out of the assassin's life; now that he's back, Scamarcio comes to collect, blowing up John Wick's house to get him to assassinate his own sister in Rome. Of course, when John Wick succeeds, Scamarcio puts a hit out on John Wick because "what kind of a man would [I] be if he didn't try to avenge [my] sister?" Gotta admire that logic.

We learn more about the network of support given to this wide-ranging community of assassins. Ian McShane returns as the proprietor of the Continental, an exclusive luxury hotel catering to assassins with strict rules about no violence on the premises. McShane's Continental has a Roman counterpart, with all the finest high end perks, like the best tailor for bespoke bulletproof suits, and Peter Serafinowicz as an extremely cultured arms dealer. Hunting John Wick for the Italians are Common, a fellow assassin who's very professional, and Ruby Rose, a sign language-speaking letdown. Rose spends the whole movie pouting and letting John Wick slip through her fingers. When she finally gets to fight John Wick, she barely lasts a minute against him. More fun is a walk on by Laurence Fishburne, who reminds John Wick in a very-meta way that they "met many years ago." Fishburne is in charge of all the homeless people in New York City, who are all, you guessed it, assassins. 

John Wick: Chapter 2 is too much of a good thing, or rather, too much of the same thing. Same difference. Like playing a video game on the Easy setting where your character can't die, John Wick's exciting gunplay and ability to survive numerous point blank gunshots while executing every assassin in his way with deadly precision becomes less exciting the more we see it happen over and over again. By the ten millionth time John Wick gets shot, shrugs it off, and kills an assassin who can't do the same, we've long since gotten the idea that John Wick is un-killable. This, of course, doesn't mean every assassin in the universe won't try when John Wick is excommunicated and becomes the target of a $14-million global bounty, setting up John Wick: Chapter 3. When John Wick snarls, "I'll kill them all!" we don't doubt it, and it'll probably a lot more of what we've seen in these last two movies. 

More alarming is the realization that John Wick's dog may also be a target of this global bounty hunt on John Wick. For while he admirably loves dogs, John Wick is a terrible dog owner. Not only does he make his loyal friend walk alongside him all the way from New Jersey to Manhattan and back (by way of the Brooklyn Bridge; all of the geography in John Wick: Chapter 2 is totally out of whack), he leaves his dog with the Continental's helpful concierge Lance Reddick. John Wick never even gives his dog a name, maybe so he doesn't get too attached? Someone needs to call the ASPCA and get that dog away from John Wick.

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