Year Released; 2017
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Ian McShane, Riccardo Scarmarcio, Laurence Fishburne
(R, 122 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama
“You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn't vengeance. This is justice.” Winston
Stylishly seductive, this slickly choreographed killing spree is one supersized guilty pleasure. Exotic and glamorous foreign locales a la James Bond backdrop armed combat performed with martial arts finesse.
Now, if only we had some just cause for this bloody mayhem. At least Bond works for mother England. The only excuse for John Wick’s EHBC (extremely high body count) is the blood oath he gave to one very bad actor in order to get out of the assassin game in the first place. He resists at first.
Santino D'Antonio: I need you to do this task.
John Wick: I'm not that guy anymore.
Santino D'Antonio: You're always that guy, John.
John Wick: I can't help you.
Santino D'Antonio: You know truths, if you don't do this you know the consequences.
The first consequence is his entire lovely house; the second will be his life. Of course, in order to save his skin, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) will have to take many others. None entirely innocent. In fact, they are all assassins as he once was. Yet, does his life merit the cancelation of so many more?
Apparently, the writers, directors, critics, and generally the movie going public do not think that an important question. They, and yes, even Different Drummer herself, get caught up in the extermination game. It’s ever so glamorous, you see.
There is a code, certainly not one of honor, but a code nevertheless, and it cannot be violated. One asks a favor and a marker is given, an elaborate sculptured piece, almost a work of art, with the requisite bloody fingerprint attesting to its permanence.
Then there is the Hotel Continental, and its many worldwide franchises, impeccably staffed, places of luxurious safety for their assassin clients who must vow never to ply their trade within its bounds.
It even boasts a resident sommelier, but he is not the exactly a wine steward. Instead, he deals in vintage guns, and Wick orders his killing machines as though for dinner. The smaller gun for an appetizer, a larger one for the main course, and something quite potent and sweet for the dessert.
Next comes the tailor:
The Tailor: Tell me, Mr. Wick, is this a formal event or a social affair?
John Wick: Social.
The Tailor: And is this for day or evening?
John Wick: I need one for day and one for night.
The Tailor: And what style?
John Wick: Italian.
The Tailor: How many buttons?
John Wick: Two.
The Tailor: Trousers.?
John Wick: Tapered.
The Tailor: How about the lining?
John Wick: Tactical.
The sartorial excellence reminds us of another stylish thriller, also guilty of some excess. In 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service the suits were also bullet proof, the shoes hid a blade coated with a deadly neurotoxin, the umbrella a shield and shotgun, and the cigarette lighter, a hand grenade.
The acting in John Wick: Chapter 2, like the fighting, is excellent. Those of a more sentimental nature – except none of you will probably be in this audience – might enjoy seeing Reeves reunited with his Matrix mentor, Laurence Fishburne, who leads a Manhattan group of rogues who pose as the homeless. My fond memory is Fishburne playing Shakespeare’s Othello, however. In this film he is the Bowery King. What can I say?
The set pieces are lovely. The beautifully appointed bedroom in the catacombs is magnificent. The nude suicide in the sunken bath takes on an almost poetic quality. The finnal shootout in a Manhattan museum is a classy rendition of the house of mirrors, reminiscent of a similar scene in Bond’s Man with the Golden Gun.
Yes, Hollywood, who never ceases to decry gun violence, manages to use all its money, talent, and skill to create what is essentially an ode to death, a paean to that instrument of death they self-righteously despise.
It is all style and no substance. And no one does it better than Hollywood.
Our reluctant assassin is forced out of retirement, and his assignment is appropriately in the catacombs under Rome.
What better dish to accompany our film then, than these Italian wine and coffee dunking cookies named Ossa dei Morti or “Bones of the Dead.” They are usually served on All Saints Day, so if you don’t cook them up now, remember them for Halloween or Day of the Dead next year.
Bones of the Dead Cookies
- 3 T softened butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- 1 egg white
- 2 C flour
- 1/2 C ground almonds
- 1/4 C water
- powdered sugar for dusting
-Cream the butter with vanilla extract, lemon rind, cinnamon, and sugar.
-Beat in the egg white.
-Stir in the flour and ground almonds.
-Mix in the water.
-Form into a ball, wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
-Lightly flour your board. Cut the dough into 4 parts. Working with one at a time, roll into a rope that is approx 1/2 inch thick.
-Cut into 4 inch sections.
-Place on buttered and floured cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
-Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar.
Makes about 40 cookies.