Everyone seemed to love the first John Wick movie, so you knew there was a sequel coming. I loved John Wick, but John Wick Chapter 2 came in a few hairs short of the original. It was still super action packed, it was still super fun, but it’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. If you do manage it, you probably repeated the steps you used to catch it the first time.
As soon as the film started, so did the action. The introduction was a spectacular car chase where John Wick gets his Mustang back from the chop shop of the first film, kills many, many people in many new and creative ways. From there the action doesn’t let up, as John Wick, who thinks that he’s “out” is pulled back “in”. It seems the crime lord who arranged it for John to retire is calling in the favour by having him do a hit for him. Kill his own sister so he can take her place as head of the family and sit on the crime board of directors (or whatever they’re called). He does of course, but John wants revenge again on the man who forced him back into the game, and who put a contract out on him to make sure there were no loose ends, blah blah blah.
Okay, I did really enjoy it, but the plot isn’t that deep or important. John Wick Chapter 2 was two hours long. I found the first hour to be great and action packed, not taking its foot off the gas, the next half hour I found rather slow, and then it picked up again for the final half hour, but that last half hour felt very repetitive. One of the great things about the first film was that Keanu didn’t talk much. He just fought and shot. In this one, he “acts” a bit more, which is not really his strong suit… I also didn’t like Laurence Fishburne’s character, and didn’t think he was necessary at all, except to set up a third chapter. Based on how the film ends, and the choice Wick makes, he’ll need the help of the Bowery King, but I found Fishburne’s performance was too over the top and I couldn’t take him seriously. And saying that a character was too over the top in these films is really saying something. I suppose they were trying to thrill the fans by having a Neo and Morpheus Matrix reunion, but I think the way it was played killed it. Ruby Rose however played a great character! I have no idea who she is, but I’ve heard her name before (from kids at work) but she was great. Rose plays Ares, a deaf assassin? Hit-woman? Bad guy. I don’t really know what to call everyone in these movies. Anyway, I really enjoyed Rose’s Ares, and hope she can somehow make an appearance in the inevitable Chapter 3. She was wonderfully controlled, understated and powerful, yet still managed to convey a sense of humour in the role through the subtitling on the screen that translated her sign language. Naturally Ian McShane was excellent as he is still one of my favourite actors so I feel I have to mention him.
Lots of fun still, and I will enjoy re-watching it, but I fear this chapter will get a little boring, but the first one never will.
Bottom Line: They included Dog Wick as a special feature on the Blu Ray!
A young girl nicknamed Bird (Ella Ballentine) is taking nature pictures while visiting her parent’s grave at the cemetery when she witnesses a gangland style execution at a nearby burial. The priest, the widow, her bodyguards are all killed by a masked assassin (Laurence Fishburne), who Bird manages to photograph without his mask on. Naturally the professional killer has a strict “no witnesses” policy when it comes to his work, chases the girl (killing her aunt’s boyfriend along the way) who runs to a lonely house occupied by Carter (Thomas Jane). Confused, the former soldier takes a bullet in the leg as the killer approaches. Carter’s wife had left him after tragedy befell the family, and even though he had turned to alcohol and was actually readying to kill himself, he is determined to protect this little girl who ended up on his front step. Carter manages to blast the killer with one of his two shotgun shells as he herds Bird upstairs. Both wounded, killer and guard; both armed, one at the base of the stairwell and one at the top of the stairs. Standoff.
Nearly the entire film takes place in Carter’s house on the stairwell. Very limited locations, an extremely small cast, probably a limited budget, but Standoff really delivered. The tension was incredible, almost claustrophobic at times. The entire cast was spectacular, but you can’t help but notice parallels between Jane’s Carter and his Frank Castle from 2004’s The Punisher. The storyline was really quite simple, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. You might think that an eighty minutes of two guys shouting at each other up and down a staircase would be tedious, but there really wasn’t a wasted minute and any slower segments were filled with suspense. The psychological battle between the two men was fantastic and really kept the story rolling. Both Fishburne and Jane are very good actors, and a small piece like this, with its restrictions really highlights how strong they are.
Standoff was intelligent, and a really good, solid suspense thriller.
Bottom Line: It reminded me at times of a western.