7:00 PM, 22nd July, 2017
John Wick: not a bad movie, but pretty stock-standard fare. So I was unsure as to why so many friends were salivating at the thought of a sequel. However, as it turns out, not only is Chapter 2 one of those films that supersedes its predecessor in terms of quality, it is also one of the best action films of the decade!
After coming out of retirement in the last movie to avenge the death of his dog, John Wick (Reeves) is asked to repay a favour owed to a fellow assassin. However, this turns out to be more complicated than he initially signs on for, and he soon finds himself staring down the barrel of almost everybody’s firearm.
But this movie is not about the plot. It’s about the action set pieces, and the aesthetics on display here, through the choreography and production design, are quite simply amazing. Returning director Chad Stahelski is almost certainly schooled in the art of New Hollywood film movement of the ’70s. His staged fight scenes are so beautiful and exciting that one is happy to forgive the trope of “one assassin attacks at a time”.
John Wick: Chapter 2 may not set your mind racing, but it will certainly jumpstart your heart.
9:13 PM, 22nd July, 2017
It is the year 1997. Manhattan Island has turned into the largest prison in the United States, with inmates left to fend for themselves in a feudal makeshift society. When the President (Pleasance) crash lands in Manhattan and is taken hostage, there is only one thing the military (embodied by Van Cleef) can do: send in the country’s toughest, baddest mother-flipping outlaw, Snake Plissken (Russell).
With 24 hours to recover the President – and more importantly the nuclear activation device attached to his wrist – Plissken enlists the services of a cabbie (Borgnine) as he shakes down every crook he knows in the joint to track down the man.
Escape from New York is a strong contender for the greatest B-Movie of all time. It is well plotted, knows precisely how ludicrous its premise is, and fills that premise with surprisingly well constructed archetypal characters that manage to pull off serious drama and tension whilst revelling in their own absurdity. More importantly, the action is first-rate despite the film’s relatively limited budget. It is a rare feat to pull off nudge-and-wink humour and maintain badass credibility, but Escape from New York is a rare gem in every way.