Movie Report: John Wick Chapter 2
Friday afternoon I parked for free in the Glendale Galleria public lot. It was pouring rain at 3:00pm. Walking to Pacific Theaters at the neighboring Americana outdoor mall required three city blocks of exposed travel. My umbrella and a few storefronts with overhanging eaves saved me from an absolute drenching, but my lower half still got hit hard. At 3:20pm, I strolled up to the ticket counter, noticing that the current showing of John Wick: Chapter 2 had started at 3:00pm.
"I want to see John Wick. How long are the previews?" I thought maybe I could squeak into the ongoing show without having to wait another ninety minutes for the next one.
The theater associate queried his computer machine while saying, "Normally previews last about fifteen minutes. Yep, the movie has already started."
For a second I considered buying the current show ticket and missing the first ten minutes or so. A natural thought, I guess. But I chose to maintain the integrity of the movie-going experience and wait for the next showing at 4:45pm. Plus, theater tickets are outrageously expensive these days, and I preferred to receive full value for my money.
Back out into the rain I went, looking for a place to eat. Two blocks away, at the corner of Brand and Colorado, Shake Shack served up some quality food. I enjoyed a tasty burger, fries, and shake, while using their free Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the restaurant's web filter blocked the SGM Forum. Thus I was forced onto Facebook for about an hour.
At 4:40pm I was back at the theater, sitting in my pre-assigned seat in a half-empty room. Someone much fatter than me was saying loud, stupid shit to his female companion, who desperately attempted to hush him up.
"Did you see me flinch? That preview was scary."
During a trailer for the upcoming Tupac movie, this large man seemed to be directing a question at the screen itself. "Who is Tupac?"
I thought I might have to say something to this guy or move across the room. But he ended up being only half an ass and managed to contain his Tourette's once the feature started.
[General character spoilers, no specific plot points given away.]
Boy, was I immediately glad that I didn't miss the opening scene by opting for the earlier showing. John Wick begins like a wild race horse out of the starting gate, with a car versus motorcycle chase scene that plays spectacularly on the big screen. The action cinematography rivals the best of the best. Movements are captured in a stylish, crisp, and focused manner. It's not the dull, blurry, and frenetic crap that has unsubmerged me from so many other action films. There might have been a couple dozen gratuitous gunshots to the knees and heads of Wick's countless adversaries. But even that point is debatable, since this level of violence seems necessary to unite plot with theme. Hopefully critics will recognize how some of the main character themes, such as willpower, focus, and endurance, have also been well-integrated into the chase and fight scenes. Similar to Mad Max: Fury Road, there is art in the mayhem of John Wick.
The man John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, exemplifies "the man on a moral mission." His purpose is bloody and brutal. Literally no-holds-barred. He is extreme will and radical focus. God help anyone who gets in his way, because he rarely shows mercy, and never to the undeserving. In his wake a trail of lifeless people forms naturally. Their mistake was trying to stop him from getting what he wants.
And what exactly does Wick want? Well, it's simple. He wants to be left alone. He wants to escape his evil past as an assassin and live a quiet, widower's life with his favorite car and his cherished dog. He is trying to be good. But in order to do that, it seems like he must explode the kneecaps and brains of every assassin in the entire world. Because they just won't let him be. Even when he litters the streets of Rome and New York with corpses, future corpses continue to hunt him down, hoping to claim the massive bounty on his head.
John Wick is set in a fantastic world of darkly romanticized killers, whose diabolical order rules the planet. And Mr. Wick is the god-like force compelled to single-handedly undue that evil empire. He is part avenger, but mostly a living legend. He is a one-man apocalypse in a realm that needs destroying. He represents righteous self-interest and unmatched devotion to individual freedom, in a world controlled by collectives and dictators. His ego will not be sacrificed to any of their rules. And his body will be pushed to the brink of disaster.
A few plot contrivances to keep Wick alive must be forgiven, for this movie is not intended to be realistic. It is action fantasy and romantic violence. It's an almost mythical representation of the uberfighter.
[End of spoilers.]
When the story finished, I sat through all the credits, because even the Jerry Cantrell-composed song at the end kicked ass. Then I considered staying for the next showing and watching the movie all over again, like I did when The Matrix first came out. It seems like Keanu has a knack for picking roles that propel the action genre to new levels of awesome and require a couple viewings to fully understand. But ultimately I decided that I had spent enough money on this film. I'll wait to see it again on Blu-ray.