JOHN WICK 2 —-I don’t know how many bad guys John Wick has to kill before he’s taken seriously. In this 2017 sequel to the Totally Cool unleashing of History’s Most F—ing Awesome HitMan back in 2014 (time flies when you’re decimating adversaries) John Wick (no one ever just calls him ‘John’) takes out one hundred twenty-eight fools who think they have what it takes…to take….John Wick.
The unlucky—or are they ordained?— 128 (126 ferocious dudes and two hot chicks—one a deaf bi-sexual who renders all previous smokin’ speech-impaired lezbiasmic assassins somehow irrelevant, literally a sexy SBD) makes the once-bracing casualty list of a mere 77 from the first movie seem like Rambo with a lower back condition.
Mere bodily punishment means little to John Wick, who, besides assorted blows (any one of which would kill a camel, or a least stun Rocky), bullet impacts (designer suit armor, wave of the future, kids) and cartwheeling down stairwells, gets struck by cars–more than once–and yet, limping slightly and face speckled with blood, can walk through crowds of people (dumb-ass innocent bystander types not in same galaxy as John Wick) and no-one notices: that is focus. Then again, we’re not dealing with some wuss like Jason Bourne.
“I need something robust.”
Directed again (first asking John Wick for permission) by Chad Stahelski, with a script again by Derek Kolstad (their very names seem fittingly badass for those who would dare to guide John Wick), this was made for a lean and precise $40,000,000: Wickians lined up to the tune of $166,800,000. Critics were in the main receptive, though some expressed a reasonable What-In-Hell-Does-This-Say-About-Us? angst. Well, it says we’re addicted to violence and deserve what’s coming, but then—you knew that. Or will. *
Stylish, but at 122 minutes it wears itself out, literally as well as figuratively it’s overkill. The first one was better. What will the third installment bring? Will he just cut to the chase and use backpack nukes?
With Keanu Reeves (lookin’ good at 52, doing 95% of his own stunts), Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Common, Claudia Gerini, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal, John Leguizamo, Thomas Sadowksi, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Wass Stevens and David Patrick Kelly. It has more ‘Assistant Director/2nd-unit Director’ credits than the Roman Empire. 72 zanies are listed on the stunt payroll. One dog. There are, for those who wish to seek’em, many nods throughout to The Matrix.
* Sick? What, you really need to ask? Or is a there bizarre, unsettling honesty beneath the cyberpunk posing, the crimson splatter and the pencil-through-head business (watch and learn)? When the death-count for a movie spawns Internet sites that detail it—when there is so much mayhem-as-entertainment that there is such a thing, you know we’re deep into a kamikaze spiral that won’t end in singing and dancing on a freeway. I don’t know as it comments on a corrupted America and the movies as much as it does on a whole screwed-up World that loves—has always loved– to solve things by violence. We have come to John Wick, and he is ready. Too bad we have to drag everything else down with us.