**Beware slight spoilers ahead**
It’s been a while since I wrote a movie review since it’s not often I watch a movie worth writing something up for. The other night I rented the newest addition to the John Wick franchise starring Keanu Reeves. I thought the first one was pretty good as far as action goes and had been curious about it since “Chapter Two” came out. As per the usual, I am Johnny come lately when it comes to recent films. So, I hope I bring something new to the table.
I liked how the movie started out fast and basically continued that same pace even at the end. I constantly had a feeling of, “what’s going to happen next,” which is rare in movies sometimes. Predictability is often the new normal in Hollywood, especially in action movies which at times can be comforting but also not. It reminded me a lot of the first 2 or 3 Die Hard movies with a little Jack Reacher) but without the cerebral part. It had the same kind of gritty, well-made fight scenes that seemed kind of believable but almost not sometimes. Wick himself, despite being perhaps the most feared assassin in the world as baba yaga aka “The Boogeyman” seemed like an almost everyday guy, a broken hero tortured by his own past and inner darkness.
***I’d like to mention right now that Baba Yaga is Russian and in old Russian folklore was a witch with iron teeth who was the goddess of wisdom and death. So, are they really saying that John Wick is a girl or was this a giant oversight by the writers?***
The plot for as far-fetched as it is at times moved along well and actually made sense for the type of movie It was. This isn’t Godfather we’re talking about here. I was pleased that no dogs were killed during this movie which made me almost hate the first one. However, I kind of respect a guy who goes after the Russian mob because they killed his dog (and stole his car) and I suppose I could relate to that sort of vengeance. ****Spoiler**** in the first movie Johns wife died of cancer (I think) and she got him a puppy as a goodbye gift so he wouldn’t be alone. So, in some ways the puppy represented his wife’s memory and when that memory was killed he just…lost it.
In this movie John finds himself pulled out of retirement by an Italian mafioso guy who John owes a blood debt to by way of an unpaid marker (an assassin thing). By eventually accepting this job (with a big push) John is thrust into a battle with other assassins both “friends” and otherwise which takes up the rest of the movie after a predictable double cross by the Italian mobster. All John wants to do is to be left alone to mourn his wife and leave the business of killing for money behind him which is what pushes him forward. However, nothing is perfect even in this steamroller of a movie.
Here are some things about the movie that just didn’t make sense. They didn’t make the movie bad, really, but made me go into, “what the hell” overload.
- There are almost no cops. The movie takes place in New York and in Rome, Italy and despite the constant shootouts in public places and in crowds no cops come, ever. The only real cop interaction is with a cop named Jimmy.
- The opening scene starts with the end of the first film and only a few days have passed. However, the dog John gets at the end of the first film is way bigger and Johns injuries severe injuries are healed.
- In one lengthy scene where John and the former rapper common are fighting, they are taking pot shots at each other with silenced guns (missing each other of course) while walking through a crowd of people in a subway station or something. Yet, during this whole scene, not one single person in the crowd even notices the gun shots bouncing off the tiled walls even though several people are only within few feet of John who is by the wall. Miraculously no one was shot!
- When John and Cassian (Common) first shoot at each other they both apparently have bullet proof dress suits on (wouldn’t that be cool. Is that real thing?). They do this in front of about 50 people at a party and everyone is just like, “Hey everyone, look, those two guys just shot each other,” and NO ONE RUNS.
- In another scene, after he has been fighting off other assassins and not to mention being shot 2 or 3 times in a kidney at point blank range, he walks through a subway station. In this scene, he is pouring blood from his stomach, his face is bleeding and cut and he is leaving bloody handprints on the walls and no one seems to give a care. It’s like some guy bleeding profusely walking down the street is an everyday thing. Not even a scream or a shriek!
- The whole interaction with Lawrence Fishburn aka Morpheus from The Matrix series was pretty funny and the subtle reference to that film was amusing.
- His house got blown up (with him in it) and yet the dog survived! AMAZING! (I won’t lie I did say, “So help me god if his dog dies again I’m turning the movie off!”)
- Throughout the movie, there was this growing part of the plot which eluded to an eventual altercation between John Wick and the deaf assassin/body guard Ares (played by Ruby Rose). When it finally happened near the end it lasted less than 2 minutes and she got her ass handed to her by Wick. The outcome was expected but I also expected more of a fight given the buildup.
- When John snuck into the coronation party to “eliminate” his target in Rome (50 minutes in) he used a series of underground tunnels so he would not be seen. These brought him right into her…dressing room. Yet, after the job was over he basically walked out the front door where the crowd of partygoers was and just happened to pass another assassin that he knew (Common) who was the body guard of his target which, yes, I know set the plot up for the next 20 minutes but damn! Out the front door…so much the discreet “boogeyman.”
- John literally fights his way from a stage where a DJ is playing and through a crowd. He actually shoots a guy on stage and the hundreds of ravers just cheer. Even while John is fighting his way through the crowd, fighting off guys with guns with some awesome gun/hand to hand fighting and blood and bullets are spewing all over, the crowd really doesn’t attempt to run for the most part. That must be one hell of DJ!
- I get that he is the boogeyman and apparent world’s greatest assassin but the sheer number of bad guys that John takes out with a gun is amazing (too amazing), yet his hand to hand fight scenes (with Common) for example seem struggled and almost real. Kind of like a bar fight between slightly drunk guys on St. Patty’s day.
- At one-point, John and Common stop their fight and have drinks since their fight has taken them onto forbidden grounds…. WHY NOT! Who doesn’t need a Gin and Tonic or Bourbon in the middle of a fight, just ask my wife!
- Thank you, Ruby Rose, for teaching me sign language!
- John gets double-crossed by the Italian bad guy who puts a hit out on him by calling some sort of office only used for sending out contracts for killings, I get that and find the notion amusing. What made no sense though is that the women running this office are all using phone switchboards circa the 1940’s like my grandma used to work at and computers from the mid to late 80’s. Are you really trying to tell me that an international crime syndicate of ruthless killers and crime bosses can’t afford a $399 Walmart special? Yet every hitman and woman in NYC get a text notification from this ancient ass system. Some on phones not used in 10 years! I guess Nokia slide phones are making a comeback…unless that was another Matrix reference!
- Who knew NYC had so many hitmen and assassins living in it!! #MindBlown
- Finally, we see this whole pencil thing happen!
- In one scene, John literally shoots two other assassins and has a short hand to hand fight with one of them right in front of a subway train full of people. In fact, when John initially shoots the two guys there are people still boarding the train next to them. You guessed it….NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE LET ALONE RUN AWAY. (after they are dead there is a PA announcement in the subway station saying, “Please notify MTA personnel of any suspicious activity” which made me LOL.) I guess shootouts and hand to hand combat in public places is the new normal…. crazy I know, but Trump is president so it’s not shocking…. hmmm.
Overall, I found this movie superbly entertaining and ended up watching it three times before my rental expired. I think I might have liked this better than the first but I am not sure. This movie, however, leaves so many awesome unanswered questions that I would love to know about with regards to the world they live in and how it works. Things like…
– The hotel only for assassins run by Ian McShane (Who is really great in this movie). How much power does he have and what is his role in the world.
–There are all these shops that assassins can go to so they can get supplies and are some part of this larger global note work; how does that all work.
– The people who run the international crime syndicate are called, The Table and it sounds very ominous but the movie gives very little detail other than the members. How big is this thing?
– More importantly, I want to know about John Wicks past, what he was before he was an assassin, why he became one etc, etc and not in some crappy prequel.