I like high octane action movies as much as the next guy. Probably even more. It’s the kind of mindless fun I could really lost myself into, and I relish the adrenaline rush that came after the movie. Touted as an asskicking sequel of the movie that revived Gun-Fu, John Wick Chapter 2 filled the bills. Even if I could barely remember the first movie. But you know, turns out, John Wick Chapter 2 points out why exactly is that.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finally got his car back. Sort of. He also get a dog. Sort of. And he still got memento of his wife. Basically, he’s all set to come back to retirement.
That is, until Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes to him with his Marker. He wants John to pay what he owed, and he’s not taking no for an answer.
I love carnage. And beautifully choreographed bloodshed always got me weak in the knees. More than once I have stated that battered and bloodied, guys looks just as good as if they’re in dapper suits. By definition, John Wick Chapter 2 should have suited my palate. It got Keanu Reeves prancing around looking all crisp while he snuffed the life out of every human being like they mean nothing. He kills in style, with such precision and total lack of emotion. And yet. And yet this movie tasted like water. It left no tangible aftertaste and while it quenched my thirst, it still left me wanting for something.
So, let me get these out of the way. Does John Wick Chapter 2 had top notch fighting choreography? You bet your balls it does. It didn’t even bother with preamble and just came blasting through the door with machine guns. Its opening was so effective it: a) reminds us of what the first movie was about, b) tied up loose ends from the first movie, c) reestablished the universe, and d) set the tone for this movie. Quite an accomplishment. And boy doesn’t this movie knows how to visually presented itself with those whistle-worthy shots and sets.
Does this movie had a very simple elevator pitch? Course. It’s just an edited version of the first one’s: “A retired assassin was forced to leave his retirement. Again.” Yes, this means the story was predictable and devoid of surprises. I quite like the idea that one decision could lead to so much collateral damage, though. It’s worth pondering about. But, John Wick’s strongest aspect, at least narration wise, is its extensive and well-crafted world building. Compared to the Man, his universe was far more interesting. It’s the kind that I would love to explore, a perfect setting for alternate universe fics, and one that studios could definitely milk in the future.
What about the casts? Oh, they’re all passable. Keanu Reeves’s portrayal of the emotionless and expressionless assassin was so convincing it felt like he’s reading his lines straight from the script sometime. He’s better when he just shut up and blast brains off. He does looks good doing so, I guess, if he’s your type. Riccardo Scamarcio was your run-of-the-mill asshole-ish crime lord, even if he does looks the part. Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane needed no explanation, because they’re as good as always. Even if I still view Ian McShane as a vile creature thanks to his astonishing performance in Kings. Yes, it has been months, but the aftertaste lingered even until now. Although, it was Claudia Gerini’s Gianna and Ruby Rose’s Ares who caught my eyes. Figures. Always got a thing for gracefully deadly women who could brought me to my knees. Plus, Gianna got a “words to live by” in her lines.
Why then, am I not content with this movie? No, it’s not because Keanu Reeves isn’t my type. Like, it does lessen the appeal, but not by much. Vin Diesel isn’t my type either and I found xXx pleasing. Nah.It’s because this movie relies very heavily on its Gun-Fu sequences. I get it. It’s the star of the show, and it’s what set this movie apart from other action flicks. But for me, Gun-Fu was both John Wick Chapter 2’s salvation and downfall.
Even the most breathtaking Gun-Fu sequences and close-ranged headshots doesn’t bring the same level of exhilaration as making a kill with knives and bare hands. Splattered blood and scattered brain aren’t as satisfying as crunched bones and lacerated skins. John Wick’s kills does reflected his skills and personality as an assassin: precise and impersonal. But I prefer my kills savor-able and gory, like the ones with the pencil. So though John Wick Chapter 2 had an alluringly styled and devilishly concocted dish, it’s not one I could relish. Huh. That does explained the bland aftertaste.
Director: Chad Stahelski. Writer: Derek Kolstad. Released on: 8 February 2017 (Indonesia). Casts: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Claudia Gerini, Ruby Rose.