The upcoming John Wick Chapter Two made me realize I´ve never written a single sentence of this most highly regarded art film of this generation; a man struggling with his past and whose emotions are taken the shape of gunfights. His internal struggled externalized as physical force. Very exressionistic. Very artful. And the reason why it was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and won thirteen instead. An unprecedented event in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Over here in Sweden it won the highly prestigous Best Direct-To-Video Award. Well enough, I guess. I still hold a grudge against those c***s***ers in charge who willingly let this gem go straight to dvd and refuse the audience a prime example of A-grade action in a superbly crafted B-movie.
But let us set aside all the accolades and why this is such a historic milestone in Cinema and look at the mythos of John Wick. It did something new in action-cinema. It actually cared for world building. Something usually reserved for fantasy and/or science fiction.
John Wicks wife got sick, died and left a puppy for him to care for. The puppy gets killed duringa breakin by a reckless mob boss son. The mob boss Viggo ( Mikael Nykvist) fuckin hate shis son for doing that, but does what is expected and tries to shelter his son from the upcoming storm that is Wick. The rest is just a tour de force in ass kicking. Wick is a lightning storm of anger. A snow storm of fury. A tsunami of sizzling bullets. A sharknado of dead bodies flying through the air hitting pedestrians.
Allright that´s enough....
Allright that´s enough....
There is not a single moment or frame in this film that does not convey the sense of a strange off beat world. Cops does not seem like a powerful factor. It is almost entirely inhabited by criminals, We do see John use collective transportation, as they stole his Mustang he was left with a fucking Prius in his garage . He must either have felt himself undignified driving around such a piece of shit car. Or maybe it was his wifés and as a sign of respect or grief he just did not feel comfortable driving his dead ass wifes car. It is very moving and deep and full of possible intepretation. It just goes to show how deep this film goes. It shows us, rather than tells us. We can decide what we are being shown means. As good Cinema should. Writing people on the nose is for pussies. Shooting people in the face however is for real men. ( well...)
John is a respected citizen by both cops and criminals. Which is a rare thing in the real world. The one that upsets the balance is the dipshit son of the Russian mob boss. Rulers usually get shit sons, which is why it is so hard to create lasting dynasties. And pissing off John Wick who goes under the specifically Russian mythic name Baba Jaga, is not a good way for your long time family plans. He should have ordered shitson Iosef The Terrible to quickly inpregnate a woman before he got wiped out. In that way Viggo might have saved the dynasty.
The hotel of assassins I like to think is inspired by Richard Starks Parker novels, whcih are actually a good example of world building. Stark built a world of rules among thieves and in the process he crafted a unique world. The Outfit is an organization built on criminal enterprizes and resides within a hotel where no affairs can be conducted. There is a similar hotel in John Wick, but built for a league of assassins instead.
You get the sense that the world has been built around John Wick, which is a crazy sense to get, but nonetheless true, which makes this scenario and world so much more weird and stylized as a result. You know that John Wick controls it, as much as Neo controls or shapes the world of The Matrix.
That is what you feel. One man in control of the world. Even the cops does not want to fuck with Wick. Wick is the centre of the world. That is usually the case with every single cookie cutter cut and paste action movies. But here it is so absurdly obvious that it has become self aware and that is what makes John Wick such a special movie.
The fights are fast, ecclectic and has a no-nonsense approach to them. The fights builds upon the legend of John Wick and even though he might not fulfll everything that is being told, you get the clear sense of someone who is single-minded and focused. The fights tell us clearly of who he is and what he is. Few action heroes live up to this. Some great uses of dutch angles conveys this in a couple of scenes. It is a daring stilistic choice but it works and they are used sparingly and tastefully.
If you thought I was done with weather metaphors you are sorely mistaken. I find it interesting how storms works itself into revenge stories. Max Payne (the game) and the Klaus Kinski classic And God said to Cain all have upcoming storms/bad weather scenarios play out in the background accompanying the protagonists trajectory of revenge, It feels very Old Testament. I like it.
The final fight between Viggo and Wick takes place in downpouring rain. A physical, close encounter that feels painfully sluggish compared to the last batches of actionscenes. Wick is running out of gas. And from all the weed Viggo has been smoking he must have gotten to the stage of afterglow, because he suddenly he feels a confidence boost that he could take on John Wick!
Kids, don´t do drugs.
John Wick Chapter Two opens in Swedish Cinemas February 24th and I can´t wait to see the next chapter.