I was quite excited to watch John Wick: Chapter 2 because John Wick was an absolute delight.
First, I have to explicitly state this: I wasn’t disappointed by the sequel at all.
However, for me, it did not measure up to the original John Wick. But the difference isn’t bad – if John Wick was 10/10, then Chapter 2 was 8/10. The reason for it is that Chapter 2 fell short in terms of the unpredictable savage intensity of the hunting game. It was awesome, no doubt (I feel like I need to reiterate it). However, compared to the original, it was quite predictable and that made it a little less engaging.
Again, since the original movie sets the scene for the John Wick universe, John seems more spectacular compared to all the other ‘humans’ around him. In the sequel, John is expected to be a lean, mean killing machine. He is as sleek and smooth as in the original so that surprise factor is gone. Hence, in the sequel, John will need an extra something to make an impact. And this is where I think he fell short of the expectations. John is strong, focused and fearless – but nothing more is added to him by this movie.
Some of the fight scenes felt a bit too long which took away from the gruesomeness and gore of the action. The subway mutual shooting between John and Cassian felt more comedic than thrilling. In fact, as the movie advances, the ‘human’ factor is stripped more and more from the story. The apathetic and sometimes scared New Yorkers felt like the lifeless extras of a video game. It might be brilliant if it was a video game but it wasn’t a video game and the complete lack of reaction from the people in the crowded city felt too detached to hit the limbic system the way the previous movie did.
While in John Wick, there was an urgent feeling that Iosef must die, the same did not hold true for Santino. John had an obligation to Santino which he refuses. So when Santino blows up John’s home, it feels like John had it coming because John is an assassin after all, and even though his devotion to his late wife is touching, there are rules in this world.
In fact, John Wick breaks a lot of rules in this one.
This installment of John Wick series felt like a bridge. I’m expecting the third part of the series to pack quite a hard punch.
For all my nitpicking, let me repeat one more time: I had a very good time watching the movie and while I don’t think it measured up to the first part, it held quite well on its own. The action is still intoxicating. Watching John is still exhilarating.
I loved the art and Italian glimpses. The fight in the “Reflections of the Soul” floor of the art museum was simultaneously trippy and sensually satisfying – it didn’t feel like a fight at all but more like a work of materialistic art aimed at instigating some sort of existential crisis. It could have felt bad but it felt good to me. This is the level of technological and cinematic advancement we have in 2017 and so, we use it.
However, Santino didn’t feel like a villain fearsome or hedonistic enough to be John Wick’s target – or maybe Iosef and Viggo set the bar too high. He didn’t fight hard enough and John could have done much better than kill him in The Continental and jump right into the inferno with that. I love Ruby Rose but Ares? Not so much. Ares felt too flippant and not lethal enough. In fact, the villains didn’t seem to pose as much danger to John as they should have and that was also a big factor as to why this movie didn’t seem as good as the first one to me.
Nevertheless, I’m quite fervidly anticipating the third part of the series. These bridge movies usually lead to quite gorgeous sequels and if Chapter 2 was just setting the scene for the third one, then it is going to be a bloody brilliant scene when it comes.