John Wick: Chapter 2
Runtime 2 hours
Not for children
This is definitely a candidate for the list of the 10 worst films ever made. It’s just two hours of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) killing people, shooting them in the head at point blank range in graphic shots, and then re-shooting them just to make sure, over and over and over and over. The movie is simply a set piece of the same scene for two long hours.
The story, if you will excuse the expression, is that John is presented with a marker that he has to fulfill, to kill the sister of the holder of the marker so he can take her place on the board of their criminal enterprise.
So John feels he has no choice. Along the way a contract is put on John and it appears that everyone in the world is in the assassination business because the hit is texted throughout the planet, and just about everybody in the world receives it and puts John on their hit list. Needless to say, John is nothing if not an efficient killer, so he kills them all.
A reprehensible homage to mindless cold-blooded murder, it can stand as an epitome of movies that glorify violence. Exposure to such pervasive violence and its glorification can make aggressive people in the audience immune to normal feelings about violent acts so that, given the chance, they may emulate that to which they have been exposed. In an August 23, 2013 New York Times Op Ed piece, forensic psychiatrists Vasilis K. Pozios, Praveen R. Kambam and H. Eric Bender stated:
“There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior — a link found by many scholars to be on par with the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke and the risk of lung cancer. In a meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990, the psychologists George Comstock and Haejung Paik found that the short-term effect of exposure to media violence on actual physical violence against a person was moderate to large in strength.”
It’s disgraceful that Hollywood keeps foisting movies like this that have no other purpose than to desensitize people to bestial brutality. There is little in this film apart from Reeves shooting one person after another in the head and then following up with another, shown graphically, along with some of the most absurd fight scenes ever filmed.
This is a reprehensible movie and everyone associated with it should be ashamed of themselves, regardless of what might be a huge box office. But I guess I’m whistling Dixie when I hope for integrity in Hollywood.
I wasted two entire hours sitting through it, two hours I will never get back. But it would be worth it if it kept others from so wasting their time.
The film ends with what is a disappointingly obvious promise of a third iteration of this rubbish. What’s really disillusioning is that as I write this RottenTomatoes.com has published 88 reviews with 79 positive for a rating of 91 percent for this despicable piece of trash. What is this world coming to? When I post my review, I guess the rating might go down to 90 percent.
A Cure for Wellness
Runtime 146 minutes
Not for children
If you are not paying strict attention, this starts out looking like animation because the people playing the members of the board of the firm of stockbrokers all look like cartoons. It’s hard to get your mind around the fact that these are real people so cartoonish they are.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), an ambitious young broker, is sent by these cartoonish board members to bring back the firm’s CEO, Pembroke (Harry Froener), who is a “patient” at an Alpine spa (shot at Hohenzollern Castle in the Swabian Alps in Southern Germany; the interiors were shot at the derelict Beelitz-Heilstatten military hospital outside Berlin). When he arrives he sees the myriad of elderly people calmly walking around in white bathrobes playing croquet and sitting at tables conversing with one another.
Turns out Pembroke doesn’t want to come back, and Lockhart locks horns with the institute’s charming director, Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaac, who gives the only good performance in the film), and also the ethereal, mysterious young woman Hannah (Mia Goth).
Although intending to stay for only a few hours, Lockhart eventually finds himself a patient in the spa. As he wanders around looking for Pembroke and dealing with Dr. Vollmer and Hannah, more and more odd and strange, indeed horrific, incidents occur to him and those around him. The problem with the film is that it is laughable in many of the scenes. As with most horror films, some of the scenes are also graphically disgusting.
The cinematography is pretty good, as are the special effects, most of which are of relatively disgusting scenes.
There are so many things that are never explained that it would take a book to list them. Just trust me that virtually every scene has something that is completely out of context and/or inexplicable (considering all the torture we’ve seen Lockhart endure), including the climax. Nothing about this film makes sense, including the existence of the spa and the purpose for everything that’s going on.
This is truly a genre film, and if you don’t like the genre, you’re not going to like the film. As an example, in my screening on the Fox lot it was announced that there would be a camera crew in the vestibule as we left the theater and they requested people stay to be interviewed that they could use for promotion. People were rapidly exiting the theater and disdaining the entreaties of the people trying to get their promotional statements. I heard the filmmaker say to one of the critics behind me, “Hey, you helped me out last week. How about giving me a statement here?” I don’t know if the critic stayed because people were stampeding out of the screening room some, like me, heading for the commissary, which is the best in Hollywood, so all was not lost.
Sitting through 146 minutes of this nonsense was enough to do in even the most hardy.