Isolation & Violence: The World of John Wick

I had the weirdest emotional response to John Wick: Chapter 2, a spiraling symphony of violence and vengeance.

Sitting in a crowded theatre by myself is something I’ve grown accustomed to and usually I’m more hopeful and excited about the films I see alone.

However, this sense of glee and optimism soon faded.

There was this potent feeling of melancholy during this whole affair and although I was entertained throughout, something very sad struck me.

Everyone’s lives are meaningless and just lead to more bloodshed in John Wick’s world.

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Many filmgoers are going to enjoy this film simply for it’s dazzling set pieces and bravura fight choreography, but there’s something very depressing underneath it’s glossy surface.

The first John Wick was propelled by our protagonist’s desire for revenge after a man killed his dog after his wife died from cancer.

It was outlandish, fun, and showed a fresh take on a cinematic universe.

Here, we’re left with a man that’s simply trying to stay alive, although we no longer have the dog’s death to get us to root for him.

We’re simply seeing a ruthless killer that we loved so much in the first one, start to lose his humanity, one headshot at a time.

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There’s a wonderfully slow-paced scene that deals with going out on your own terms.

It almost seems out of place because of how morose it was. No longer were we on a stylistic  joy ride, we were given a chance to calm down and feel the consequence of what John was tasked with doing.

Here, he is faced with a character that truly knows how important they are and how this world will ultimately lead to people like Wick sneaking up behind them.

When that scene was over, I realized everyone in Wick’s world was all a facade.

These people are all sad and desperate human beings, always a bullet away from an assassin’s gun. No matter how enigmatic they come off.

They all know this. They are greedy, selfish, and careless, and they all want to live so badly, even though all they do is take life.

John Wick himself is the biggest culprit of this.

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After about the 800th time someone was shot in the head, I realized that all this man is capable of is killing and the only people who like him are the ones who are so impressed with how he kills.

He’s isolated, by choice, and we see how he maneuvers around this sandbox.

Each moment he’s in there, you can tell it’s something he knows how to naivgate, yet is always yearning to leave it.

Although the dog he saved at the end of Chapter one has given him at least something to do, it’s left behind so John can finish one last assignment.

This can also be interpreted as the director of Chapter Two going solo this time around and leaving the co-director of the first one behind.

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What pains me about this whole experience is that no matter how flawless the gun-fu was, I couldn’t escape the feeling that everyone is just there to die.

Now, with a less serious tone and more faux Tarantino humor, this franchise wouldn’t make me think as much as it did.

But the director Chad Stahleski did such a wonderful job setting up this world and transported me into it. Too bad I probably had the opposite effect he wanted viewers to have.

The world of John Wick is a cool and intriguing one on the surface, but beneath it is something so sad and hollow.

images via Lionsgate

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