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Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - John Wick and John Wick Chapter 2

Yes, I'm cramming two review into one. And yes, I'm a huge Keanu Reeves fan. I don't care what anyone else says. The man doesn't get enough credit for his range or his use of subtlety. Seriously, go back and watch Much Ado About Nothing. Keanu can hold his own against Kenneth Branagh and Denzel Washington.

The original John Wick was one of the many movies I wanted to see in 2014 and didn't get a chance to. So when it debuted on cable TV last month, I watched. Twice.

I'm not going to give a SPOILERS warning. It's been out for three years, and if you haven't seen it yet, it's not my fault. I will give a warning before I start talking about Chapter 2.

The original film is a take on the Asian revenge stories with a neo-noir chaser. The triggering event is one I totally identify with as a furbaby parent. The fact that John's furbaby was the same breed as two of mine made his rage even more palpable.

In the typical fashion of a certain breed of human males, the entire tale could have been truncated by doing the right thing and giving the instigator to John for punishment. But no, the bad guys dicks get in the way, and John shoots them off with brutal efficiency.

The movie ends with an injured and beaten John "adopting" a new puppy to replace his beloved Daisy. However, his equally believed Mustang is still missing.

Which brings us to the opening of John Wick Chapter 2. The sequel picks up a couple of days after the end of the first movie, and John is looking for his Mustang. As the new head of the Russian Mafia tells his right hand man who's after him and why, the second-in-command asks, "Why don't we simply give him his car back?"

Smartest guy in the underworld so of course, he doesn't survive the first ten minutes of the movie.


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SPOILERS


* * *


PROS
1) While the plot of its predecessor is a fairly simplistic revenge story, John Wick Chapter 2 digs deeper into John's past and the underworld of the franchise. We learn how John did the "impossible task" in order to leave the underworld and marry Helen.Unfortunately, payment for assistance in the "impossible task" comes due in the new film.

2) The pencil story from the first film was not an exaggeration, and John proves it as part of an epic fight scene in the New York subway system.

3) Common, as professional rival Cassian, was a delight. His fate was left in the air, and I truly hope to see him in the next film of the franchise.

4) Compared to his icy precision in exacting revenge in the first movie, John loses it in this one. But then, literally everything has been taken from him at this point.

5) Don't worry. Boy (the only thing John calls the pit bull puppy from the first movie) survives. However, his puppy daddy crosses a line at the end. The same line as Miss Perkins in the first movie. Out of love and respect, Winston give John an hour headstart. The film ends with John and Boy running for their lives with nothing to their names.


CONS
1) The third installment can't come out fast enough.


While I would give the original John Wick a 7.5 stars out of 10, John Wick Chapter 2 cranks everything up to 9.5.

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