“John Wick: Chapter 2” would make a perfect video game.
The sequel to the 2014 action film starring Keanu Reeves has a plot that can be written on a fortune cookie: former killer forced out of retirement and becomes a target. There are a few mentions of Wick’s pain over losing the love of his life, his car and dog. None of that is important.
Director Chad Stahelski, whose first directing job was “John Wick,” has opted to once again forgo plot and character development to leave more room for murder and mayhem. This is perfect when it comes to Reeves whose acting energy always seems to be either low or played at such an inward way that there has not been an actor better suited for limited dialogue since Clint Eastwood was blasting his way through bad guys as Dirty Harry.
The closest this movie comes to having a story is a confrontation between Wick and a street-smart crime boss known as The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). This could just be a case that Fishburne has the kind of acting skills that can take what could have been a superficial character and elevate him to interesting status.
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The only problem is he’s alone in these efforts.
That means the movie lives or dies (and dies and dies and dies) on the action sequences. This is where Reeves and Stahelski shine. Just like a role-playing game, most of the movie is Wick shooting his way through a variety of situations.
What makes the movie feel more like a video game is that instead of Wick being a walking arsenal, he faces numerous situations where he has to improvise with weapons and find new guns. He picks up weapons with each person he kills.
If there was a flashing box with a Red Cross emblem on the side placed in a few scenes then the movie would be an exact match to a video game.
Some of the action scenes go to the absurd. One moment, Wick can shoot the evil out of a gunman at 1,000 yards. Then he moves to a sequence with a fellow killer (Common) and the pair can not hit a wall. It seems in the world of John Wick, shooting abilities change depending on the value of the target.
The ending is completely absurd when Wick suddenly realizes that everyone in New York is a hired assassin. It’s probably time for him to head to New Jersey.
By that point, any hint of reality has been blasted by a tsunami of bullets. The best thing to do is to not try and put “John Wick: Chapter 2” into the kind of smart action film genre with works like “The Matrix.” This is pure entertainment that is entertaining because Reeves plays the character with never wavering sincerity.
It’s fun if you keep reminding yourself that “John Wick: Chapter 2” is one controller away from being a killer video game.