Last night, Maribou and I had one of those “you go see your movie, I’ll go see my movie, then we’ll go out to dinner and talk about the movies we saw” dates.
She went to see Rogue One.
I went to see John Wick 2.
First thing I have to get out of the way is that John Wick 2 should come with a *HUGE* trigger warning. The first death of a named character is a suicide and it’s graphic. So if you decide to watch John Wick 2, know that there is a huge TW: Self-harm, Suicide when you buy your ticket.
With that out of the way (and, as I said, it’s the first named character to die, so it happens early), the movie begins in earnest.
The main thing that I remembered is the rather specialized universe in which John Wick takes place. We swim in an ocean of assassins and assassin support. There are hotels (The Continental) that cater to assassins that have nooks and crannies that contain arms dealers that cater to assassins, armor dealers that cater to assassins, and medical care that caters to assassins.
It’s like Final Fantasy, kinda. Go to The Continental and there are several shops and you can also save your game.
Last movie, we established one of the important rules: NO VIOLENCE TAKES PLACE ON THE GROUNDS OF THE CONTINENTAL.
This movie, we establish that there is a second rule: you enter into a blood pact, you pretty much have to repay it. There are ledgers and everything.
Well, after a cold open in which we see John Wick get his car back, we learn of the existence of this second rule for this assassins’ universe and then we see what is entailed in repaying such a marker… and some of it involves learning that there is more than one assassins’ hotel on the planet. (There’s a really funny scene where the owner of the Rome Continental hotel asks John Wick about what he’s doing in town.)
Well, after the first named death in the movie, the movie starts rolling and we start killing unnamed characters by the buttload. You will find yourself wondering “what does the payroll for these people look like?” Not just for the whole issue of how much an individual one of these people would cost, but John Wick kills, like, dozens and dozens and dozens of people. Even if they only got $50k plus some decent benefits (including intangibles like being able to tell potential pick-ups in bars “hey, baby, I’m assassin-adjacent”), that’s still a *LOT* of people to be paying $50k to.
Well, maybe the fact that you’re not paying them for long makes up for that.
But then I think that recruitment would be a problem.
Of course, there are hints of a secondary economy in the John Wick universe, one that revolves heavily on Gold Coins (that’s, apparently, how you pay for stuff like the hotel room and weapons/armor and, apparently, as few as two (top shelf) drinks in the bar) but we only see assassins spend these coins, we never see them *GET* them. Now, we do see some of them leave the hands of the artisan in charge of creating them and they go to the guy running the hotel who pronounces them of suitable quality and proclaims that they be added into circulation… but he runs the Hotel. He’s the guy who *GETS* these coins in the first place.
“Ah, but what about assassin’s contracts? Maybe those are where these things get paid out!”
We see one assassin’s contract be put out. It’s for dollars. Not these coins.
So I have no idea how the economy in the John Wick universe works. I mean, the price for two drinks seems to be one third the price of a tailored Kevlar evening wear suit. I’ll even grant that the drinks are top shelf. How does that even work?
Anyway, this is yet another movie that has massive amounts of style and it feels like it wants to be saying something… one of the final climactic scenes takes place in a museum/art exhibit called “Reflections of the Soul” and that scene involves people descending stairs a lot… but the movie feels like it was written by a film studies major who smoked marijuana all the time with philosophy of religion geeks and pretty much got the gist of it.
I’d say that it was all style, no substance… but there were a couple of interesting things. It might be easy to say that the movie is nothing but a set of reactions of billiard balls but, towards the end, one of the characters is given a choice. The choice is made. So one of the philosophy of religion geeks gave his existentialism speech at some point during one of those late-night bull sessions.
I’d say that the movie had no soul, but Fish (I saw the movie with Fish, I should mention) pointed out that the movie had a dog re-introduced and, in the absence of a soul, I suppose you can have a dog. So since you know that nothing’s going to happen to the titular character, you can instead worry “jeez, are they going to kill this dog too? I know that they’re not afraid to kill dogs in this franchise!” and you spend the movie wondering if the dog will make it out alive.
And then, at the end, you will realize that, of course, you’re not merely watching a sequel… you’re watching the middle movie of a trilogy.
And then, after the trilogy comes out with a box set, they’ll come out with a prequel.
If you’re into heavily stylized violence, interesting characters (you will laugh and slap your leg at at least one of the cameos), and hints at a very interesting universe that makes no sense when you start thinking about it, well… this just might be the movie for you.
But, seriously, you’ll be tempted to call it soulless and describe it as having style without substance.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?