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Thread: John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski)

  1. #1
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski)

    JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

    Director: Chad Stahelski

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  2. #2
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    My thoughts on John Wick: Chapter 2 are the same as before I saw it: a sequel was entirely unnecessary.

    This movie is sorely lacking in the charm that made the first one work so well. The first movie had a great contrast. After spending as much time as we did with all of the building up of the mythology behind this guy and his reputation, we find out later on that, while he's certainly skilled, in action he is still very much human. He's vulnerable, and half the time he only survives because he has backup helping him out from the shadows.

    Here, though, he's just fucking superman. Sure, he gets beat up a little, but he never felt truly vulnerable the way that he did in the first movie. It reminds me of the comparison between the first movie and The Equalizer, which only came out about a month prior, in how those two movies were so alike to one another in terms of concept, yet in terms of execution, John Wick stood out, due both to its style, and the fact that Wick as a character felt human, where as in The Equalizer, Denzel Washington's character was more or less indestructible and absolutely perfect in every way. Here, in John Wick: Chapter 2, the character has evolved into Denzel's status, and as was the case with The Equalizer, it makes for a mostly boring movie.

    90% of this movie is that gun-fu action that we loved so much from the first, but with that aforementioned super-human element in mind (and the fact that there's just so much of it this time), it really becomes pretty tiring pretty quickly. Sure, I can appreciate an action movie in this day and age with seamless filmmaking and choreography so that you can actually see all of the action, but if the character feels as impenetrable as he does here, then it quickly gets to a point where I ask myself, what exactly is the point? And my mind begins to start wandering as a result.

    Story wise, they expand on all of the world building of the first movie, yet it reaches a point where it begins to feel overly silly. It was neat the first go around, but the real drawing point was Wick's personal vendetta on account of the bad guys killing his dog, which helped really ground the movie and not let its silliness get out of hand. Here though, his conflict doesn't feel nearly as personal, or at least not as relatable. It's just a simple plot where someone forces him to take on a job, then turns on him (shocking), and all shit breaks loose, giving us our excuse to see all of the cool action. Except that that action begins to wear thin and overstay its welcome this go around, and isn't nearly so impressive by the end of it anymore.

    The first movie stood wonderfully on its own, and this movie appears to have no real clue as to what actually made the first one such a good movie in the first place. And seeing as this one sets up a third installment in the end, it looks like we're in for even more of this crap after this. But why can't we just have a good stand alone anymore? Why does everything have to be a damn series?

    This movie serves as a prime example of why I never want them to make a sequel to Dredd.

  3. #3
    Piss off, ghost! number8's Avatar
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    I have more or less the same thought, although I'll be more generous by saying that I think they realized this and tried to make up for it in other ways. The strongest element of the first John Wick really was the investment it managed to mine from the utter simplicity of its concept. The idea of an unstoppable Keanu Reeves tearing through the underworld because of a dog is lightning in a bottle, a perfect melding of using Keanu's dedication to stuntwork and the internet's perception of him. That can never be replicated by any sequel, the same way that Taken became a meme that no Liam Neeson movie (including the two sequels) managed to re-capture. I do think the filmmakers are very aware of this, though, and they adjusted accordingly. The entire prologue of this sequel feel like an in-joke acknowledgment of it, starting with the casting of Peter Stormare as Michael Nyqvist's brother, continuing the absurdity of the ethnic makeup of this world's Russian mob, and then delivering a similar speech about John Wick's prowess and a repeat of the "Oh" punchline. It felt like this movie was saying, "All right, we've frontloaded everything you love about the first movie, we're hitting that morphine button to get you settled into a familiar euphoria," and then when his new dog miraculously survives his house exploding, it felt like a nod that ceremonially closes Chapter One. We're not repeating the dog murder, because this is a different story now, even though the dog will not be involved at all. The arc is over. This time, it's strictly about world building.

    One of the most fun things about hitman movies, to me, is the ridiculousness of the made-up tradition of decorum. That's always fun to see, even though they're never uniquely original. I just like the variance in the execution, and John Wick certainly put in a memorable go at it. Having Ian McShane and Lance Reddick as caretakers do wonders, and I love seeing them expand on this with European versions of those two (Peter Seranofowicz! Franco Nero!!!). This is a sequel that wants to deliver on this idea of "professional courtesy" that was just background in the first movie, and I think they delivered a lot on that. The silencer shootout in the subway station is born out of that sense of invented decorum and it is fucking hilarious. It may be one of the best action movie gunfights in recent memory.

    As for the choreography of the action scenes, though... Well, I guess I'll just say I think I know now why out of John Wick's two directors, David Leitch is the one tapped for Deadpool. Based on that career move and Stahelski's staging in this, it's my assumption that Leitch was the stylist and the Stahelski is the realist. The shootouts here certainly don't have as much confident camerawork as the original, and there's a lot--a looot--of emphasis on the tactical side of Wick's gunplay. That in itself can be fun too, though. I said immediately after the movie that calling this gun porn is too broad, because it's more specifically reloading porn. In all my years of watching action movies, I don't think I've ever seen an action hero change magazines this much, and there's definite fetishization in the way he does it.
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  4. #4
    good for health Skitch's Avatar
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  5. #5
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting TGM (view post)
    The first movie stood wonderfully on its own, and this movie appears to have no real clue as to what actually made the first one such a good movie in the first place. And seeing as this one sets up a third installment in the end, it looks like we're in for even more of this crap after this. But why can't we just have a good stand alone anymore? Why does everything have to be a damn series?
    Not to go all scorpion and the frog on you, but what did you expect, exactly?

    (Selfishly, I'll add: If more sequels mean more in-depth posts like yours and 8's, well, I don't mind them so much.)

  6. #6
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    Not to go all scorpion and the frog on you, but what did you expect, exactly?

    (Selfishly, I'll add: If more sequels mean more in-depth posts like yours and 8's, well, I don't mind them so much.)
    Well, I guess the difference here is between what I expected and what I hoped for. Because honestly, the movie as is is more or less what I expected, however, there was a part of me that was hoping to be surprised by this anyways and see them either somehow manage to recapture the magic of the first, or find a whole new way to wow me all over again. And, well, the movie sorta failed in that particular regard for me.

    That said, in regards to 8's post, I do like your take on the "closing of one chapter, opening of another" aspect. Honestly, when the retread-ish stuff was happening in the beginning (the repeat joke in particular), I found myself silently groaning, like, "really, we're doing this, movie?" But I think looking at it the way you described definitely does work, as the closing of one part of his life and beginning of a next stage, so I can appreciate the beginning of the movie for that aspect with that in mind. That said, even with that in mind, I still just didn't find this next stage in the story of John Wick to be all that interesting all the same, for the reasons I've already outlined.

  7. #7
    Take out all the boring gunfights and there is an interesting film here. Unfortunately, there is a shit ton of boring gunfights.
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  8. #8
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    The first one is propulsive John Wick myth-making with casual world-building on the margin. Chapter 2's first half leans heavily on the latter while slowing down the former. A few gorgeous interludes (shopping in Rome) and some expertly composed actions help not make the film become really stagnant, exactly, but I was worrying for a second.

    That second half when both myth-making and world-building expand in equal proportion right before my eyes, however, is pure bliss. It's the first one gone epic in all the right ways for me, with more ambitious action choreography (to compensate for the lack of freshness this time around), bolder stylish touches to set those action to, and a more stoic surface that maybe hides deeper, more unsettling emotions underneath. John Wick's talent is what makes settling those enormous score from the first one possible, but it also unleashes him into the limelight where he's wanted, either for use or dead or otherwise, and now the only thing he ever wants is to be left alone, to grief in peace again. But he has started something that can't be stopped. The few emotional cracks, of him yearning so badly to go back to the way things were, are dropped far from each other throughout the film, but they ring deep; being a god has its toll. I might like this even more than the first one. 8/10
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  9. #9
    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Take out all the boring gunfights and there is an interesting film here. Unfortunately, there is a shit ton of boring gunfights.
    Boy ain't that the truth. Every shootout is well choreographed...and that's all I got. They're nearly all the same, feels like there is nothing at stake at all. It's downright preposterous and that's a problem because this movie isn't Commando.

    The subway 'shootout' as number 8 has said was funny and refreshing, but again sooooo silly given how every bystander just seems to be oblivious to what's going on even if they have silencers.
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  10. #10
    MADMAN THE 13TH MadMan's Avatar
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    More badass than the first one. I also thought that unlike the first one the sequel had more fights and was actually high stakes. Plus I prefer how this one ended over the first one.
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  11. #11
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting MadMan (view post)
    Plus I prefer how this one ended over the first one.
    That's one of the things I love about the first movie, though, that it tells a complete story, where as this one leaves itself open with a sequel bait ending. I mean, considering what happens, if you dug the movie, I can understand digging the direction it took in the end, but me personally, I found the complete package of the first movie to be far more satisfying.

  12. #12
    Director Scar's Avatar
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    I do enjoy the movie, especially the tactical side of the gunfights that 8 mentioned (shocking, I know). My first thought when I left the theater was if this was going to be the Back to the Future II of the series.

    Definitely deserves multiple rewatches once the Bluray comes out.

    Side note: Love the use of the Kimber 1911 pistol to get him started during the finale.
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  13. #13
    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    Enjoyed but as others who have said, the captivation is gone when you dig too deep in the underworld. Also, the fact that there are THAT many assassin's living in one city is a bit nonsensical.

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  14. #14
    Body Double Rico's Avatar
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    More isn't necessarily better. Like most sequels it tries to out do the original with more action that gets repetitive, more characters that don't get satisfactorily fleshed out, and all while basically having the same plot. Unfortunately story ends up on the cutting room floor.

  15. #15
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Lots of good comments in this thread.

    Just to throw in something: are we basically watching a fantasy series at this point? The first film hinted at all that with the whole "baba yaga" and mythmaking element, but this film doubles down. The analogue I kept thinking of was Blade. The woman cutting her wrists and wading into the bath and the subsequent shoot-out in the brick tunnels felt like they could've been pulled from Del Toro's entry (I was expecting a Reaper to pop out of those tunnel shadows). There's also the secret society element that gets more exercise in this film, and by the time the end of the film arrives, it's hard to believe there's anybody in New York City who isn't affiliated with one of these groups (the Continental, the High Chairs (or whatever that was called), the Homeless Boys), which adds another level of remove between our world and the world of Wick.

    [Both films convey an odd dual feeling of elevation and earthy rawness. It's a strong identity for an action series.]

    That whole vibe is advanced by the overabundance of sculpture, especially the use of the Roman pantheon in one gorgeous shot of the villain. Which makes me wonder if John Wick's constant need for a dog is meant to evoke Hades and Cerberus. But maybe that's thinking too far outside the bun.

    Agree with the people saying this film's gunfights don't have the same zing as the first one, although I did like the tunnel fight, the hilarious casual gunfights with Common, Wick facing off against Sumo Boy, and the curtness of the final gunshot. One of my few problems with the first film was that it "resolved" the revenge too soon and contrived of a final act with a new villain I didn't care nearly as much about. So when Wick confronts the villain at the end of this film, it felt more like a consummation of the story. And it also hits more than the previous film's closing moments, because we know that Wick's moment of choice carries real weight (instead of it just being another punch-fest, knife fight, or shoot-out).

    [The hall-of-mirrors routine preceding that excellent closer disappoints, not least because all I could think of was the Key and Peele Hall of Mirrors goof. But on reflection, it doesn't do anything with that setting. There's nothing about it that really leads to new variations on the action.
    Last edited by Dead & Messed Up; 06-18-2017 at 07:23 AM.

  16. #16
    the maker of my own evil Ivan Drago's Avatar
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    Would it be a stretch to call the original John Wick and its sequel artsy? I ask because the way both films use color is flat-out amazing to me. Even the climatic fight sequence in the Reflections of the Soul museum exhibit feels like a visual manifestation of a war going on inside John Wick's mind. Regardless, it's fantastic visual storytelling, if anything.
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  17. #17
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    I really don't remember the first film that well, other than thinking that it was just an exercise in stylized ultra violence. This is more of the same, just amped up and with less of a plot. While I was entertained throughout, at one point I thought "This has to hold the record for the most head shots in one movie." One could argue that the film's repetitiveness keeps it from reaching the heights it could have. However, if one were to apply real world logic, then certainly shooting someone in the head is the most effective way to assure that they can't come after you. So, why not?
    I agree with other comments here that the gunfight with silencers has to be one of the most inventive and amusing scenes I've watched lately. Don't know if I'll be revisiting this one any time soon, but it was fun ride.

  18. #18
    Director Scar's Avatar
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    I've watched this numerous times and love it. As much as I enjoy the gun fights, my favorite sequence is when Mr Wick has a 'tasting'.

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  19. #19
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    This was pretty much what I expected it to be and, as such, I enjoyed it.

    Agreed with TGM that it lacks the streamlined simplicity of the original. But it is clearly aware of it and makes up with the world building.

  20. #20
    Scott of the Antarctic Milky Joe's Avatar
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    Hey, this movie ruled. It's that sequel to The Matrix I always wanted. 3 stars? What is wrong with you, 2017 Match-Cut?
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  21. #21
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    Yeah, I thought this was a great sequel.

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