Thursday, 29 August 2019

John Wick: Chapter 2

It's all a matter of taste but I bounce off a lot of the detailing in the John Wick universe. The baroque rule-set baked into the stories often seems unduly synthetic; a series of hanging excuses designed to stop or re-start the action whenever the screenwriters (in this instance, Derek Kolstad) can find no other, meaningful way to push our hero forward. Likewise, the technological leaps in tactical tailoring - that keep Wick buttoned up and protected without ruining his silhouette - suggest a heroic immunity that, really, stands to undermine any sense of situational distress. Nevertheless this particular flight of fancy does give rise to one fantastic moment - Reeves tugging at his slim-fitted jacket, forcing his lapel up over his face to protect his head from incoming bullets.

What is unmistakably and consistently brilliant about John Wick: Chapter 2 though is its star, Keanu Reeves. The 53 year old actor's movements stand in tonal opposition to the flamboyant nonsense around him. His Wick gait is stiff and deliberate, arthritic even. A living testament to a career filled with colliding bodies. The film's interpersonal action - just as frequent as the close-quarters shoot-outs - sees Wick using his size and weight against his enemies. His signature move is to trap his assailant's arms or pistol in some way, then kick away at their legs until both of their bodies collapse in a heap. Wick is then able to use them as an axis to take aim at other, incoming goons. Another choice that stands out is the actor's speed or, rather, his lack of it. There's no great hurry in Chad Stahelski's film. We see Reeve's body contorting and crashing in ways that let us know that it is pained, that these manoeuvres require an effort beyond simply shifting mass. A small but perfect note that lends every single confrontation a faint sense of fallibility. John Wick will win. But it will hurt.

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