John Wick: Chapter 2
February 9, 2017
Rings (**) PG-13
The first warning sign that Paramount might have a turkey on its hands with the horror threequel Rings came last fall. That’s when the studio suddenly decided to bump the movie’s release from last October up to February less than a month before it was due to hit screens. When a studio decides to move the release of a horror film out of the month of October, a time when audiences are primed for that sort of thing, the handwriting is generally on the wall. Add to that the fact that the studio chose not to screen it early for critics and, well, you get the picture.
In other words, Rings is pretty much what was anticipated months in advance. It doesn’t really add much new to the pre-existing mythology of the first two films and is a lackluster affair at best. Probably the only reason it scores as high as it did for me was due to the early tampering of my enthusiasm. As the old adage goes, he who expects nothing will not be disappointed. It’s a let down to be sure but just not to the degree expected.
Gone are most of the connections to the first two films in the series, with the notable exception of Samara, the spooky girl who kills those who watch the tape with footage of her.
Matilda Lutz in Rings
In the latest film we have a young college kid discovering that his biology professor has the infamous Samara tape after getting a hold of it from the film’s first victim. The good ole professor has a system set up wherein you watch the tape without actually dying. Sound convoluted so far? You betcha.
Even more convoluted is the inclusion of bonus footage found on the video, which alerts the college kid Holt and his girlfriend to Samara’s birthplace. The couple then decides to make the pilgrimage to the site of Samara’s origins in the hopes of putting her uneasy spirit to rest once and for all. Along the way they encounter a blind man (the great Vincent D’Onofrio, obviously doing a cash grab here) whom the audience will realize from the outset knows more than he’s letting on. And so the plot thickens
Rings is technically competent but it suffers, as many belated sequels do, in that it just doesn’t have anything new to say that hasn’t been said already and much better. For those who’ve missed the other films in the series perhaps Rings will be a pleasant diversion. I’m sorry that won’t likely be the case for the rest of us.
John Wick: Chapter 2
(** ½) R
During the first fifteen minutes of John Wick: Chapter 2 there’s a scene wherein the title character is mowed down by a car with such traumatic force that a normal person would have certainly been paralyzed for life, let alone not be able to stand on two feet seconds after the incident. Not John Wick, though. As portrayed in stoic but stone faced fashion by star Keanu Reeves, Wick is up and running and, of course, taking out all of his attackers within a radius of several miles.
Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit in regards to the distance of several miles but you get the point. Either you go along with the logic that an action hero can stand on two feet after being run over by a motor vehicle or you don’t. The preview audience I attended the film was having the time of their lives, hooping and hollering and so forth. I suppose this sort of thing wasn’t bothering them and if one is of that mindset you’re likely to feel the same way.
One thing you can say for sure. John Wick: Chapter 2 doesn’t betray its ridiculous rules wherein the hero of the pic is seemingly made of Teflon. He’s run over again later on the film. And he’s stabbed and shot and beaten to a pulp and probably suffers many other similar fates that have left my mind already as I write this review. None of this seems to slow him down, of course.
Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick
And, for me, that’s part of the problem. Since it’s established early on that Wick is an action hero of the type where you know he’s going to be alive (although probably not well) by the end of the film then there’s no suspense to any of it. All you can do is sit back and watch Wick stylishly dispatch the bad guys in any number of ways, most of which you’ve seen done before in 80s action films of a similar ilk. After a while the carnage just became boring for me since the film has such minimal characterizations and the thinnest of plots on which to hang the action sequences.
The plot here involves Wick being duped into working once again for his former employer. One of Wick’s former colleagues tasks him with killing his sister under the guise that he can’t bear to kill her himself in spite of the fact that he believes she should be put out to pasture. Of course, you know there’s more to this than meets the eye, otherwise we wouldn’t have a film on which to hang the ensuing action set pieces.
Quality wise, John Wick is pretty much on a par with its predecessor. If you dug that one then you’re probably going to go nuts for a second dip into the world of Wick. I guess you know who you are, so proceed accordingly.
Both of these movies are playing this week at the Carmike in Hickory and in other area theaters.
Questions or comments? Write Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.