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JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 | Film Review

“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”

RELEASED: October 24th 2014
DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski
WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad
PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk & Erica Lee
MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Laurence Fishburne, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare & Franco Nero

Unlike John Wick: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 seems to be just as good as I remember it being. While I will admit that some action sequences are better in the first movie, as a whole, the quality of the second film remains consistently high across all fronts.

For one, the action sequences are more bountiful and varied – you have car action, hand-to-hand action, gunfights, pencil fights, knife fights; the whole shebang. All of it is excellently choreographed, and while there are some action sequences that feel slightly repetitive; I suppose it makes sense that a dedicated assassin would have his go-to movies.

Chapter 2 opens with John Wick finally tracking down his car from the first movie, and finishing off the rest of his Russian rival’s forces. However, after inflicting so much carnage, John gets a visit from an Italian crimelord whom he owes a favour, and who has come to collect now that John is seemingly back in the game. Forced to take on a job he doesn’t want to do – one that will have dire consequences – John must once more take a whole lot of lives so that he can return to retirement.

The main problem with the first film was perhaps the script. Fortunately, the script for Chapter 2 seems to have improved greatly, despite being written by the same man, John Wick creator Derek Kolstad. Here, the dialogue is less awkward and more flowing, and John gets to develop his personality a bit more. The world he inhabits is further fleshed out, and the result is a fascinating and different action film to those that have come before. Whereas Chapter 1 had hints of this, it mostly centred in on the tired ‘practised killer, out for revenge after the death of a loved one’ trope, and while, of course, that can be done right, Chapter 1 just hit the same beats and relied heavily on its action spectacle.

Chapter 2 manages to create its own world that’s worth exploring, with interesting characters and an interesting plot and then heaping Stahelski’s excellent action back on top.

There are some great performances here; Common, I think, being the highlight for me, and Ian McShane’s Winston once again standing above the rest. Reeve’s Wick is less hammy this time around and feels more genuinely burdened as a result.

I’m not sure what exactly has changed here, seeing as Chapter 1 co-director David Leitch wasn’t credited on the first film and didn’t contribute to directorial duties at all on the second film, but his disappearance seems to make all the difference. Furthermore, if you look to his projects post-Wick (Deadpool 2), one can’t help but wonder if he was dragging the project down slightly.

Anyway, I give John Wick: Chapter 2:

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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Movie & TV Reviews

 

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JOHN WICK | DVD Review

RELEASED: October 24th 2014
DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski & David Leitch
WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad
PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Michael Witherill & Eva Longoria
MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick & Willem Dafoe

John Wick: Chapter 1 is the explosive debut of the John Wick franchise; the third entry of which is in cinemas now. The film follows the titular retired hit-man after some punks steal his car and kill the dog his deceased wife left for him, and he is forced to get back in the game and get his revenge – racking up a sizeable body count in the process.

When I first watched John Wick, I went in with no expectations after randomly picking it up for £3 one morning after work. My positive opinion of it has remained with me ever since and prompted me to go see the second film, which I also enjoyed. With John Wick: Chapter 3 now in cinemas, I sat down to watch the film again for the first time in three years, this time with my action-cynical girlfriend in tow, to see if she would join me at the cinema. The end result, whether that be due to me seeing it through her eyes, or me just taking more of it in, is that this film is perhaps not as good as I’ve been thinking it was for the past few years.

The strength of John Wick comes from the trio of star Keanu Reeves, and the two directors, Chad Stahelski and (the uncredited) David Leitch. When it comes to action, Reeves immerses himself in a role, doing his best to do as many of the stunts as he can, and making sure he’s an expert in whatever action style he’s portraying. Similarly, Stahelski and Leitch are former stuntmen, who have experience working on action films with excellent choreography such as Captain America: Civil War. Here, as they make their directorial debut, you can see them bringing all that excellent stunt knowledge and style to the director’s chair(s), and the result is some beautiful action sequences.

The choreography is immense, and watching Reeves’ John Wick mow through his attackers with his ‘gun fu’ fighting style is gripping and visceral. The locales these fights take place in often make what you’re watching vibrant and alive, and so scenes like ‘the club’ section of the movie really shine and stick with you.

But outside of that, this film is a bit lacking. The story is simple (but admittedly poignant), and the script is not so great. While there are some funny lines, the dialogue is mostly quite weak, with awkward lines and a lot of (as Rachel pointed out) people just saying each other’s names. It’s meant to show that Wick is well known amongst this assassin’s community, and it works, but it also makes you feel like the action is wholly the focus (which it is, pretty much) at the expense of the dialogue. Of course, how well this dialogue comes off is also affected by the actor delivering it. Keanu, in true Keanu style, straddles the line between the amusing, detached assassin, and a hammy mess of a man. Ian McShane, conversely, brings a lot of gravitas to his lines, as he hints at potential set-up for the sequel, while other characters, like Palicki’s Ms Perkins or Nyqvist’s Tarasov, unfortunately, can’t make the weird lines they have to sprout feel genuine. Not necessarily their fault though.

Ultimately, John Wick is a great action spectacle in the first half, full of colourful shots and excellent action, but falls down as soon as you start to look too closely. The excitement also starts to drop off in the third act, as the rather short runtime still somehow seems to drag on.

All-in-all, I give John Wick:

I really hope Chapter 2 is as good as I remember.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2019 in Movie & TV Reviews

 

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GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 6 | TV Review

The first time I watched season six of Game of Thrones, I enjoyed it, but my mind was also distracted by wondering when the array of spoilers I had heard over the years would come to fruition. Then, I promptly moved on to season seven, and my recollection of events started to blur when it came to writing my review.

However, I’ve now rewatched season six, and with events fresh in my mind, I’m ready to go! Like my season four review, this review will also drop one fairly major spoiler because once again, it happens at the start and you can’t really discuss the various heroes’ journey’s without acknowledging it.

RELEASED: April 24th 2016 – June 26th 2016
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Dave Hill & Bryan Cogman
DIRECTED BY: Jeremy Podeswa, Daniel Sackheim, Jack Bender, Mark Mylod & Miguel Sapochnik
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
STARRING:
Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Liam Cunningham, Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Indira Varma, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Conleth Hill, Alfie Allen, Gwendoline Christie, Jonathan Pryce, Michiel Huisman, Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon, Iain Glen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Wlaschiha, Dean-Charles Chapman, Isaac Hempstead Wright, John Bradley, Hannah Murray, Aidan Gillen, Rory McCann & Jerome Flynn

One of my coworkers has repeatedly told me she believes season six to be the best season of the show, due to the fact that while all the seasons have their highlights, season six maintains consistently high quality. Whether that is true or not we’ll explore now.

In season six, Game of Thrones finally reaches the point where it overtakes the story laid out in the books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, crafting its own original story using Martin’s notes and some details from previous novels. Daenerys Targaryen‘s time in Essos comes to a violent end, as she finds herself facing off against both the Dothraki Hordes in full, as well the Masters of Yunkai and Astapor, in response to her volatile rule of Slavers Bay. In her absence from the city of Mereen, Tyrion Lannister and Varys struggle to rule in her stead, with enemies appearing on all sides. Elsewhere, Arya Stark returns to the House of Black and White, and is given a second chance to align with the ‘Faceless Men’.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Cersei Lannister makes a power play to take out her enemies, and the Iron Islands are rocked as Balon Greyjoy‘s death leads to a struggle for the Salt Throne.
To the North, the remaining members of House Stark* reunite to face off against House Bolton for control of Winterfell, as a new ‘King in the North’ is crowned.

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