Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 9:55 pm | Fair 60º


Cinema in Focus: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

1 Star – Destructive

It is a rare experience to see a film so troubling you believe you have been in the presence of something demonic. However, John Wick: Chapter 2 is just such a film.

This second chapter is a sequel to a 2014 movie with essentially the same cast and plot. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a “reformed” hit man who now regrets having sold his soul to a syndicate of devils.

This film runs for 122 minutes, but you’ll get to experience the murders, one by one, of more than a person a minute.

In the original film, ex-hitman Wick comes out of retirement to hunt down the gangsters who stole his family and his life from him.

In Chapter 2, Wick is being asked to come out of retirement again for some new evil purpose, but now he has had second thoughts about getting back into the business.

Like many syndicates, there is an agreed upon safe zone that is comprised of a hotel where you and the people you despise can mingle, but the rules don’t allow you to hurt anyone.

Is there really honor among thieves? It is always amusing that these stories find the principle characters are somehow surprised to find out that this adage isn’t true.

Wick has been asked to honor a commitment he made to the syndicate when he dropped out of sight. This commitment requires him to complete one more hit as a payment for his peaceful exit.

Since he no longer wants to be a part of this lifestyle, most of the story is a kill-fest of people trying to convince him he cannot renege on his promises.

This elevation of anger and revenge continues to build until finally John Wick murders the man who made the request of him to resume his professional skills, and he does so within the walls of the protected hotel where bad guys are presumed to be safe.

Yikes! The moral high ground is crumbling.

When all hell breaks loose, Wick now has a price on his head of $7,000,000 and he becomes an extremely vulnerable target.

Although it is hard to build any sympathy for this reformer, the haunting imagery the film evokes is the fact that surrounding him wherever he goes there are dozens, if not hundreds, of wicked souls trying to kill him.

This image is frightening in its portrayal of evil and demonic characters that surround us all the time. It also reminds us that when we sell our soul, then Hell is ever-present.


» It is interesting that for a crime syndicate to be able to function it requires truthful, honest commitments to one another within the group. Betrayal is unacceptable. Yet the business of the group is betray everyone else not within their own group.

How do you see this same “us and them” in other areas of life?

» When we sell our soul for material gain there always comes a day of accounting. Why do you think anyone makes such a bargain with their life?

» What makes some people think of a film like this as entertainment?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the retired pastor of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and lead superintendent of Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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