The best thing the filmmakers of JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO did was in one of its opening images. Over a mind-numbingly loud street-race, we see a projection on the side of a building. It’s of a movie in the long-gone black and white Silent Film era, showing cars crashing all over the place. It was a mission statement, and a brilliant one at that: this is a Hollywood action movie, one of thousands made; we’ve been entertaining you with this kind of violence for over a hundred years, so just park your reality outside and enjoy the next couple of hours. And that’s all I needed to not overanalyze what was to come afterward.
I really liked the first John Wick flick and I really enjoyed the second one. It’s simplicity in story execution: no one’s out to save the world, there’s no one’s kidnapped girlfriend or kid at stake — and whatever mulling these characters have in their life choices, no one’s trading up for their better angels anytime soon. There’s a lot of wrestling moves, followed by shooting (specifically in people’s legs and heads). Cars get wrecked left and right. People get run over by cars left and right. Characters talk to one another briefly and politely before resuming their carnage. And there’s no deep relationship quota (other than a dead wife and new dog).
I love the world-building of this world, the secret sub-culture of assassins built on the shoulders of the last movie. I can’t fathom what it’d be like to actually live in this world, where hit-men engage in all-out war in public with nary a cop batting an eye. At times it felt the public didn’t even notice the constant homicide erupting around them (maybe, like in super-hero worlds, this kind of thing is just a routine experience for them). And holy god in heaven there is a ton of assassins walking around. Like 75% of Manhattan is made up of them. I imagine high school guidance counselors telling thick-necked kids in Grade 12 “you know, Frank, you are bald — have you considered a career with Murder, Incorporated?”
So, yeah, you could do a lot worse for a Valentine’s Day movie.