Sunday, 6 August 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

I always said after seeing the first movie that it should have been kept as a stand alone, a one off action flick. Yes the movie was a surprise hit out of nowhere but does that mean you automatically whip out a string of sequels which could potentially ruin the films name? When something does well (unexpectedly), should Hollywood proceed to milk it dry? Slowly drain away the imagination and originality until only a cliched predictable shell is left ('Taken' much?). There's nothing wrong with having a good stand alone movie with no sequels.

With that we have the second chapter in John Wick's rather stressful life. It now appears that Wick has an outstanding debt, of sorts, with an Italian crime lord called Santino D'Antonio. In this world of the hitman there is such a thing called a marker. A medallion containing a sample of blood from both parties, basically a blood oath or pact on an agreement, or hit. Previously Wick had gone to D'Antonion for help, now D'Antonio wants the favour returned. Wick being the stubborn fool he is goes against the oath and promptly gets his house blown up and he is forced to take the job. Once the job has been completed, and D'Antonio naturally double crosses him, Wick sets his sights firmly on revenge.

The movie starts off a few days after the events of the last movie. In that we see Wick tracking down his precious Mustang muscle car to the brother of Viggo Tarasov, one Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare). Abram obviously knows of Wick and his skills and comes across as somewhat worried and regretful. Abram knows Wick wants his car, he is clearly concerned about what may happen with Wick, yet he doesn't tell his men to stand down? This just seemed rather odd to me, Abram obviously doesn't want to die, he doesn't want the trouble, so why not just give Wick his car? Let him come in and take it, no worries. Of course that doesn't happen and we get what appears to be a rather pointless action sequence. Seeing as this subplot goes absolutely nowhere (including the inclusion of John Leguizamo's character again), it was indeed all pointless.

Once we get into the core plot things become much more familiar, and by that I mean repetitive and unoriginal. The job he must undertake as part of the marker agreement with D'Antonio involves Wick going to Rome to assassinate D'Antonio's sister (another crime lord type person). Naturally this all takes place at night and within some sort of outdoor clubbing event. Cue lots of flashing neon lights, a live band, people dancing around frantically, scantily clad ladies and a thumping soundtrack. This seems to be the bread and butter of locations for hitmen to frequent in movies.

Its also here that we get the first real action sequence from Wick that we have now come to expect. And by that I mean Wick running around whilst somehow not getting mortally wounded and taking out an absolutely absurd amount of henchmen. I swear its like watching a live action sequence from Operation Wolf or Time Crisis (videogames). Literally every faceless henchman is utterly useless and never seem to aim for Wick's head. There is a never ending stream of these dumb henchmen who never seem to hold back or move in tactically (considering they outnumber Wick 10 to 1). And all the blood is really obvious CGI which just looks lame.

Along with that (or before that) there was the inevitable James Bond-esque guns, gadget and general weapons sequence where Wick tools up. I don't really need to explain it as its pretty self explanatory. What I don't get is why Wick needs to do this. The amount of men he kills, who in turn drop their weapons, Wick basically has unlimited guns and ammo. He need only pick them up off the ground after he's killed the henchman.

As the movie progressed it just became even more ridiculous in my view. Wick keeps on taking knocks, blows, cuts and eventually bullets, yet he still manages to continually take out all his opponents. Over time Wick must start to fend off numerous other assassins also (because of the contract D'Antonio puts on his head) which gets daft as they pop up everywhere. Hell we even get a giant sumo wrestler trying to take out Wick at one point. This really spoilt the movie for me because there were far too many hitmen and women coming out of the woodwork. The final sequence of movie really highlights this nonsense, is half the population of New York undercover assassins now or something?! And all the while regular folk never really notice what's going on, no one ever freaks out, we never see any what the hell???

I also fail to see how Wick can get anything done because literally everyone in the business knows him, everyone! How on earth can this guy be so stealthy and lethal when he's so flippin' recognisable?! Anyway the plot pretty much reverts back to the exact same idea we saw in the first movie, which I guess was to be expected. I have also noticed a pattern with Wick. Every time he gets into a scuffle he seems to do the same thing. He'll shoot a guy but not kill him outright. Throw or wrestle him to the ground with a fancy move, then take out a couple guys approaching. And then he'll finish off the guy he's got pinned to the ground. The question is why? Surely this is wasting energy and not particularly efficient...but I guess it looks good on camera huh.

I didn't hate this movie, there are some really inventive elements which I liked. The whole Continental hotel idea was something I liked from the first movie and the expansion of that idea was well done here. I do like this idea of aristocratic blokes running these ultra posh hitmen hotels like some kind of gents country club. I like the whole Continental hotel operation and how it runs with its many secret separate branches that cover all fields. Sure we've seen it all before with Bond and more recently with 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' but for some reason it never fails to intrigue. But that's as far as it goes for me, the rest is basically the same guff we saw in the first film but not as slick looking. The fights didn't look as good, the CGI blood was dreadful, and of course this second movie lost all the originals wow factor.