The film* Jonathan Wick, the Second is better appreciated ironically than legitimately. On the surface, it’s a trashy FPS/rail shooter in which Keanu Theodore Wick, Esquire, mows down hundreds of bad dudes in order to resolve all frown-based misunderstandings. Beneath the surface (but not precisely deeper), it’s a movie (sans asterisk) that not only mocks tired action tropes to excess by dialing them up to 11 million, but also mocks us for liking the whole endeavor.
Distilled to its essence, the plot* is:
Keanu Reeves, lent gravitas by the percussive chopping of distorted Drop D power chords, swaggers through the front lobbies of five-star hotels whilst frowning imperiously upon all. Number 1 on his to-do list: ask the front desk clerk for the landline phone and if #2 there are any bad dudes he can MurderDeathKill and/or #3 kung fu.
Unenumerated, in the “nice to have” section are some magic coins—the overeager accumulation of which risks random waves of frowny-faced bad dudes targeting him for assassination, in much the same way Link is swarmed by rabid chickens when he breaks too many clay pots. Bogus!
Countering this—according to the rules posited by the DM, Ian McShane, playing Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer—Keanu may also slip the bad dudes magic coins to make them the targets. Regardless of the bureaucratic forces of “proper procedure,” our man Ted tends to MDK and/or kung fu the fuck out of everyone; the tipping point comes whenever his swagger-bar reaches 100.
(Ooooh! The banter crackles with the cutting rapidity of that one Howard Hawks flick where Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell overdose on ketamine!)
Slammed by several dozen vehicular messengers of the laws of physics over the course of five or… shit, maybe it was 100 minutes, Keanu’s health-bar drops precipitously. Fortunately, his is a quick enough regeneration rate to afford relentless kung fu-ing the joie de vivre out of as many swarms of bad dudes and mini-bosses as the screen allows. It is further a kindness that they tend to attack in single file.
Also, Morpheus shows up and gives Neo guns. Lots of guns. Whoa. Nostalgia counts as taking a step back from the action for character development. “Remember The Matrix? Such a good film! Fuck, I can’t believe it’s been 19 years.”
Well, time flies when you’re on the fucking internet all day reading articles about—Neo or whoever takes on the final boss, who reveals himself by hanging out in museums and being European. When final Mob Boss Guy claims refuge at the good guys’ good ol’ LARP fort, where they DM Ted’s most excellent adventures, this patron of the arts is shot dead by Ted despite being on base and safe from the lava! Ian McGiles frowns at this heinous refutation of decorum. The One frowns back and gets ready to MDK/kung fu some more.
The End. To be continued (which is not The End, but whatever.)
Oh yeah, spoilers above. Anyway, analysis:
Will the majority of this film’s* audience enjoy it as a dark satire of our blood-soaked, gun-obsessed culture, laughing knowingly and morbidly along with the joke that’s on us, because we’re too numbed by the helplessness of living in a country that accepts 30,000 gun deaths per year as… what, sustainable? A fact of life in the US? A ritualistic sacrifice to Lady Liberty, the way that ancient human cultures honored the gods?
Or is it not so reflective as that?
In one possible answer to the above, most of the audience at the screening I attended couldn’t stop laughing when Johnny B. Wick stabbed a random bad dude in the balls for, you know, being bad and stuff.
A pointed commentary, indeed.
Rating: “Whoa” out of “Ghyeaaaahghhh!!!”