So I just got home from seeing John Wick: Chapter 2, and while it’s better than its predecessor, it’s still not a good movie.
It lightened the hell up. The first John Wick was oppressively dark, completely humorless and joyless, and took itself way too seriously, much to the film’s detriment, as a stupid script and silly action sequences had no place in such an unhappy movie. Chapter 2 actually allowed itself to happen in the daytime rather than perpetually at night and/or in the rain. This felt like such a blessing. The cinematography was no longer dark and brooding. And Chapter 2 actually had humor. There were funny lines aplenty, and it felt wonderful to see the action sequences fully embrace the cheesiness. John Wick felt so cramped, but Chapter 2 actually allowed me some much deserved elbow room.
The action sequences were significantly better. They’re still not original in the slightest, and are still as ungodly silly as the ones in the first one, but Chapter 2 understands that its action sequences are silly and embraces it. I giggled with delight when I cringed at some of the gruesomely silly kills. The camerawork is a little shakier, but it adds to how fast-paced the fights are. They actually feel almost fun rather than boring.
The acting is much better…at least from the side characters. Keanu Reeves still sucks, but at least he’s awake compared to his dreary role in the previous film. Laurence Fishburne has a cameo in this, and it’s so surreal to see Neo and Morpheus back onscreen together. Where’s Trinity? Could you not get her? Laurence Fishburne embodies the quirkiness that Michael Nyqvist failed to do in the previous film. Ian McShane has more screentime, and he’s pretty decent. Common is here in probably his best performance yet in his piddly acting career. Peter Stormare’s cameo is actually pretty funny.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much where the good about the movie stops.
I am one of those rare people that watches action movies…for their story and characters. And when I can’t get invested in those, I can’t get invested at all. I understand now that the story is clearly only there to showcase Keanu Reeves in various action sequences, but come on. The story cannot be this thin. It’s barely there and is almost as nonsensical as the story of the previous film. When an Italian mobster shows up at Wick’s house, shows him some sort of marker, and demands that he kill someone else. Wick refuses, so the Italian mobster blows up his house. And then Wick inexplicably decides that he’ll kill the person anyway. It’s even sillier than going on a Biblical rampage because someone killed his puppy and stole his freaking car. It’s so ungodly stupid. So because Wick is a freaking nuke on a hair trigger and will just go around killing people for even the slightest of reasons, I have no reason to root for him. It’s not as if he had any character to begin with, but even if he did, I would have no reason to root for him anyway.
The villains are also even less interesting. It doesn’t help that the main villain and his man-with-breasts-trope henchwoman get barely any screentime and give even worse performances than Keanu Reeves. I barely remember who they were, let alone what their motivations were.
There’s nothing here except for reasons to get Reeves to the next action sequences, which are at least entertaining. Oh, and it’s both funny and bewilderingly stupid to see the fleshing out of this super-secret subculture of hitmen that apparently governs itself so well that it’s practically its own country. I laughed my head off after watching the hilariously overblown fight between Reeves and Common be brought to an abrupt end by them crashing through the window of the super-secret-subculture-owned hotel and being ordered to cease and desist.
This movie is nearly as dull as the first one. It’s just a silly rehash that thankfully has enough improvement over its predecessor to warrant a view. But just one. And I’m giving this one a 2 out of 5. Here’s to hoping the inevitable Chapter 3 will finally be good.