Where were you when you first saw John Wick? Read on for my thoughts about the sequel.
I remember watching the trailer for Chapter 1 and saying to myself, “This is going to be good”. I took my brother to see the movie and he was unclear on the plot going in, but we were both blown away by the visceral action of the revenge flick. Plus, they killed his dog! These guys deserved everything they got. When it was all said and done, I was left wanting more. I wanted to know more about the world introduced in this movie, its people, its currency, its rules. It would be about a year before it was announced that there would be a Chapter 2. I don’t know about anyone else, but I squealed like a tween girl.
John Wick: Chapter 2 was released this past weekend, and the Babayaga is back. The movie opens with a grand action piece to immediately throw you back into the breakneck action of the first film. But the story begins a few scenes later. John is still trying to keep to his retirement, but a figure from his past comes calling to claim a literal blood favor (more in that in a bit). John’s first response is ‘no’, but soon finds it in his better interest to say yes. From this point the movie starts to pick up speed, moving from gunfight to fist fight, back again for more gun fights. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say, that just like Chapter 1, this movie left me on the edge of my seat wanting more. I have to know what happens next.
Now as much as I loved this movie, it was not perfect. It took me a while to figure out what was bothering me about Chapter 2, but I think it boils down to its protagonist. The opening scene goes through great pains to remind us that, “John, is a man of focus. Commitment. Sheer will.” In chapter one we saw that focus drive John to keep moving until he met his goal. In this movie this focus, commitment and sheer will made John practically superhuman. ::Minor Spoilers:: He’s wearing a suit that makes him bulletproof, and puts down countless assassins as he makes his way to the main boss. He even survives getting stabbed and THEN fighting more thugs, which in reality should have just made him bleed out faster. Because of this some of the edge of the first movie is lost. At least in chapter one when Wick was stabbed he was shown getting patched up again. Chapter 2 ups the game in every way it can, raising the stakes perhaps too far. And John survives it all. If you can get past the 80’s action movie trope where your good guy survives all manor of impossible to get the bad guy, you’ll thoroughly this movie. Even if you can’t, this movie grabs you by the shirt and pulls you along with John on his new mission. By the time you get to the end, I promise, you’ll want more.
So the best thing about a sequel is that it doesn’t have to waste too much time on setup. This means there’s more time to expand on the world and plot. In this, Chapter 2 is no exception. We’re treated to an expanded view of the network of assassins and how they operate. ::Minor Spoilers:: I love that there’s this old-timey phone operator type dispatch office for opening and closing contracts. It’s interesting to note that the work isn’t assigned digitally but through a text message and tons of the paper work and ledgers are hand written. This brings me back the point of the blood oath. You can ask a favor from other people in this underground, and it’s signed with a bloody fingerprint. If you break this blood oath, it means your death. It hinted that John was able to ‘retire’ in the first place thanks to this blood oath favor. Again, I’m more intrigued by this world building and how it all operates than I am the actual story.
As for why they operate, that’s still a mystery. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!?! There are a few hints of a higher council, certain families that run this underground and enforce its ‘rules’. But once again all that takes a backseat to the foreground of John’s story. Chapter 2 director Chad Stahelski has already stated that if given the opportunity he plans for lager roles for Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and John Leguizamo’s characters. Let’s hope the studios get a return on their investment because I must have more John Wick.
I guess in the mean time, I’ll have to fill in the gaps with my own backstories.
Go see John Wick Chapter 2!