Action for Action’s Sake: John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

Honor among thieves, binding rules of conduct for jet-setting assassins, fight scenes that go on for thirty minutes of a movie’s runtime: all dubious tropes. At the same time, if these are an action film’s bedrock, it’s not a bad place from which to build a yarn.

That’s exactly what John Wick Chapter 2 does.

The movie starts off with a bit of tie-in/leftover work from the first movie, a night’s rest for Wick, and BOOM! on to the action. There’s talk of retirement, just like in the first, but obviously that’s never going to happen. Retirement would make for a shitty action movie, just like not going into the basement would make for a shitty horror movie. Wick’s scrapes and bruises from the beginning fight sequence are hardly scabbed over when the explosion erupts signaling the start of the new story.

Whereas John Wick Chapter 2 is not all that original, or fresh, in it’s story, it is pedal-to-the-metal in the action and fight sequences. Rightfully so considering the filmmaker, Chad Stahelski, is an accomplished martial artist and stuntman. I’m talking edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckle action.

There is one aspect of John Wick Chapter 2 which was hard to watch: classic American muscle cars getting trashed. I understand how horrible a person it makes me to admit this, that watching inanimate objects was more difficult than watching violence to people, but it was painful to the point of looking away when they crashed the cars. Blood, sweat, and tears—in levels pushing well into the red of pure love—go into the perfection of these cars. All of which comes to an end in such an easy, almost perfunctory, destruction. It’s a travesty.

In my defense, the violence against the people is all fake. Sure, people got hurt. One doesn’t perform such fight scenes without some actual contact, some of which is borderline “real.” At the end of the day those poor stunt people, and actors, are bruised and bloody, but the point is none of that violence is real, that is, done out of malice. The cars on the other hand were actually trashed. Completely destroyed. Well, one of them.

Sigh. Someone, or in this case something, has got to pay the ultimate price for a good movie, yeah?

I guess I’m getting soft in my middle-age. I’m projecting my own mortality into inanimate objects. Luckily for me, and my emotional status as a blubbering simp, nothing happened to his dog. Thankfully they got that out of the way in the first one, which I guess furthers the argument that the car had to pay the price this time.

In these movies there’s three things the antagonist can mess with: the girl, the car, or the dog. The girl and the dog were gone in the first, all that was left was his car. I’m reminded of Vincent Vega’s philosophy: it’s only a “dickless piece-of-shit fucks with” a man’s ride.

So, all considered, John Wick Chapter 2 scratched my action movie itch, even if it did stretch credibility to the limits and was unnecessarily cruel to ‘Murican muscle cars. I guess it wouldn’t be much of an action movie otherwise, would it?

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