As fate would have it, John Wick 2 was the film I had to watch after simulated reality week, which of course, had the Matrix trilogy. Might as well be Keanu Reeves week, right? Well, anyway, the first John Wick film reminded of The Matrix series…but different. That’s why my original 3-word review for the first film was “I know gun-fu”. It’s certainly an action-oriented film, but is it more than that? Rotten Tomatoes seem to suggest it is, as it has a standing fresh score of 90%. We’ll try to get into that, and what I reviewed it, in just a hot second.
In the sequel, John Wick must come out of retirement against his wishes for the second time. Before he went into retirement, he had to make an unbreakable vow of sorts, with a blood oath. When he initially refuses, his house is burned down to remind him how important it is not to break a vow. So, Wick has to follow the rules and carry out the mission…but is backstabbed when he does so, sending every assassin in the area to his location.
Because I just watched ever Matrix film, the majority of the film reminded me of Matrix Reloaded, facing impossible odds of assassin after assassin using their own unique style to try to take him down. In a way, it’s more of a threat than the famous burly brawl, where it was against a million versions of the same man. This time, it’s unpredictable. We’ve seen this typical style in other action films initially seen with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. We later saw it in Dredd and The Raid. Where you start at the bottom and head to the top, difficulty increasing as he goes along. Plus, I believe John Wick 2 was actually intelligent with how they got to that point. Poor John Wick just wants to be left alone!
Let’s break this thing down and talk about what makes this thing good or bad.
PEOPLE SCORE – 8/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1
First up, we have the people category, which got the first subtotal of 8 stars. The acting really wasn’t spectacular, as there were some clearly cheesy moments regarding the acting itself, but acting isn’t necessarily the reason why you’re watching this. The characters were all memorable, and I was super happy to see Morpheus show up. What a reunion! The casting is pretty much spot on, the importance of the characters all made crystal clear sense, and as far as chemistry goes…no one really had much of it. It was all pretty much typical stuff there.
WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2
Next up, we’ve got the writing score, which got another 8 stars for a subtotal of 16 stars so far. The dialogue wasn’t really all that great, as nothing really stuck out for me. However, it’s a perfectly balanced film, the story is interesting and smartly written, in my opinion. It’s definitely interesting, but at the same time, we’ve seen movies like this before, at least the structure of the story…so I wouldn’t necessarily call it original, but it’s still really fun.
BTS SCORE – 9/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1
Next, we have the behind-the-scenes score, which adds another 9 stars to the jackpot, adding to the subtotal for 25 stars so far. The visuals were really nice. This is one of those movies where it’s just a fun time watching, and a lot of that has to do with what’s going on on screen. The directing and editing in these types of films are crucial for the audience to know what’s going on, and they nailed both of those. This film was as advertised, it just didn’t have a musical score that blew me away or anything.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1
Next up, we have the narrative arc score, which adds yet another nine stars into the pot, making the subtotal 34 stars so far. The introduction reminds us, in general, who John Wick is and what happened in the first film, tying those loose ends up. The inciting incident is when he is asked to carry out a mission. The obstacles come down to pretty much everything after he carries out said mission. The climax is the result of everything, which is pretty good, but the falling action was missing something. In most good instances of falling action, you have a downward slope and then a leveling off. This just has a downward slope and it ends there, so we don’t really have a good idea of what the new norm is…but that’s okay!
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 9/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 2|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks Audience In – 2
Is it entertaining? Well, I added another nine stars to the subtotal, which is now 43. Where did those nine come from? Let’s take a gander. The rewatchability factor is high, as I definitely had a lot of fun watching this. It sucked me in from nearly the first frame and kept me glued all the way to the end. I would definitely buy this film, and I wouldn’t mind discussing it with other fans…but I’m not going to lose my mind if I can’t.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 45/50
Sequel – 10|Adds New – 5|Action – 10|Keanu – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
Finally, what were the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film? Well, it’s a sequel, so does it feel like it fits in the universe and the characters have jumped back into their roles? Absolutely. Does it add anything new? In a way, it adds a different theme to the film, but otherwise, nothing is new. How was the action this time around, a-ma-zing. Is this a film that I would recommend to someone asking about Keanu Reeves? Certainly, these and The Matrix series are safe bets, but you can’t forget Bill & Ted! Finally, is it halfway decent? Did they make the movie they set out to make? For this, I would say certainly. There isn’t anything I’d change about it. It’s very well made.