‘John Wick’ has quickly developed as a yardstick for modern-day action movies. Brought to life by two passionate and talented stuntmen, ‘John Wick’ has rejuvenated Keanu Reeves’ status as a global star. The titular character based series has gained traction with audiences ever since the first movie released. The steeply stylized imagery and high-octane action sequences, which look hauntingly real, have characterized the two movies until now. The neat and taut narrative strictly follows the three-act paradigm, often making the most of the mid-point leeway afforded to action movies.
‘John Wick 2’ comes alive with its heightened sense of urgency and breathtaking sequences, shot in the background of aesthetic and grandeur sets. It is the film’s ability to attach importance to the motives behind the actions that elevate it to another level. Wick is driven by an emotional urge not of redemption, but of habit. Both the movies have an inherent presence of overwhelming obedience of habit in Wick, which attracts him toward living a life on the run. The mind charts back to ‘Godfather II’, where Al Pacino’s iconic Michael Corleone declares, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”.
Wick, almost like Corleone, gets sucked back into the action despite his best efforts to do the contrary. Violence has become such an integral part of Wick’s life that wielding a gun almost seems akin to holding a toothbrush. The retirement period doesn’t last long and is possibly only a cover; a cover to his innate, dark desire to kill; a cover, maybe, to deal with his annoyance at not being able to avert his heart from violence. Action, therefore, assumes a central theme in his life, and to that extent, the movies.
‘John Wick 2′ sees the titular character locate his beloved Mustang in Abram Tarasov’s chop shop. If you’re thinking of a connection with the Russian dude in the first film, you’re spot on. Well, he gets in, gets out, leaving behind broken bones and dudes not breathing. Seemingly, he has his place back in life; his house, a loving companion in the form of his dog, and his spirit vessel, the Mustang. In comes Santino, an underground Italian boss. Boom. Just a suggestion here. I think not only Reeves but also the fans would love to see an origin story. How circumstances change a person have been well documented on screen. But the profoundness of human nature can present itself in the most tangible of fashions if done right. Reeves is someone who has himself led a life of solitude, marred by personal losses and loss of loved ones. He’d be the perfect barque to sail Wick’s story into our conscience and let us pit it against his actions in the two films. The studio has seemingly decided to go against the idea, continuing the series’ timeline in ‘John Wick 3’. Anyway, moving on.
Santino enforces the “marker”, a sacred promise of blood made by a person who vows to do anything asked by the other person in debt. The task assigned to him is to murder Gianna, Santino’s own sister, in a bid to take her seat at the high table. Wick refuses to carry out the task, citing his retirement and idyllic life as the reason. Santino burns his house down with a missile launcher and finally subverts Wick into delivering Santino’s sister’s soul. In Rome, Wick carries out the hit, only to be recognized by Cassian, Gianna’s personal bodyguard. A fight ensues, that lasts almost twenty minutes and is the most scintillating, tense part of the entire movie. ‘
John Wick’ isn’t about a rogue assassin operating out of pity personal malice or nature. It covers a wide network of professional, sophisticated henchmen, who kill when asked to, in the prescribed way, which is imprinted upon them by a book of rules. That professionalism and courteous obligations are cleverly crafted into the fabric of the battle between two men of competence and equal calibre. Wick leaves Cassian alive as a courtesy but gets fatally injured in the process of the fight. As news of Gianna’s death reaches Santino, he stabs Wick in the back, taking out an assignment of $7 million on his name, in a bid to “tie loose ends” up.