Title: John Wick: Chapter 2
Rating: 4 Stars
In the first movie, someone kills John Wick’s dog and everyone must die. In this movie, an underworld gangster forces Wick, desperate to be retired, to perform one last hit. As a consequence, everyone must die.
That’s pretty much it for the plot. It’s basically a first person shooter come to life.
But is there more to it than that?
First of all, it’s pretty clearly making fun of the action film genre. It takes every trope that it can come up with and cranks it up to eleven.
John Wick is indestructible. He falls down several flights of stairs. He gets shot. He gets stabbed. He gets hit by a car (several times). Every time, it looks like he’s going to collapse. Oh wait, here comes someone to murder him. He promptly gets up and performs some miraculous action to save his life.
His shots never miss. His opponents never hit. The film makes fun of the gun that never runs out of bullets. He’s going to take out the antagonist, who has his usual army of henchmen at his disposal. Wick is given one gun and seven bullets (Seven? Is this some kind of weird homage to The Seven Samurai? Probably not). Wick proceeds to take out the entire army of henchmen. Every so often, he throws away his gun and takes up one of the dead henchmen’s guns to carry on the battle. He’s doing this, but clearly he’s still shooting dozens of rounds between picking up the next gun. It acknowledges the stereotype, winks at it, and then carries forward with it.
I also found it interesting that all of the criminals seem to understand and communicate in each other’s native tongues. I hear Wick speak Russian, Italian, and Yiddish (maybe others). There’s a deaf criminal and he signs to her perfectly. Is the implication that somehow criminals exist in a world in which they can effortlessly communicate to each other? Is there a universality to crime and to criminals?
Similarly, there seems to be a highly refined set of rules governing criminal behavior. You can even say that there is an honor and an ethos to crime. Is this some kind of wish to bring order to a world of chaos? When we read of random crimes being inflicted upon random people, do we have some kind of collective wish to have an underlying order to it? Is there some deep fear of the random unknown that a film like this addresses?
This film also plays around with the single point of view paranoia that we probably all occasionally fall victim to. The only perspective that we can ever have is our own. We have no true knowledge of the life or existence of others. What if this entire universe is staged exclusively for our self? How do you disprove this hypothesis?
When the initial hit is put upon Wick, all of a sudden the whole world is against him. Random people on the street try to kill him. When he’s meeting Winston for the last time in a busy park, at a word from Winston every single person (probably hundreds) stops to look at Wick. Everyone is in on it. Everyone is out to get Wick. Isn’t that the essence of paranoia?
Finally, Wick’s new dog is a pit bull. Is that not the perfect choice of a dog for Wick? Pit bulls are misunderstood and are feared, even hated. They can be trained to be extremely violent. However, pit bulls, in their natural element, like pretty much every dog ever, just want to play, have fun, and live a dog’s life. Isn’t this all that Wick wants? But his trainers, the ones who made him, are forcing him to give up his nature and to become once again the violent killer.
So, there you go. Way too much thinking about a movie that probably was just trying to see how many people it could kill in one two hour stretch.