Not Another John Wick 2 Review (Seriously – Its Not)

So I just got back from watching John Wick Chapter 2. Yeah I know I’m a little late on this one, but I prefer to wait a few days for the crowds and hype to die down before I watch a new movie. Nothing better than walking into the cinema screen and finding only 6 other people there and your free choice of plenty of seats.

I wanted to write something about this flick but really didn’t feel like doing yet another review as there are plenty of those already around… Okay, I’ll do a very quick review; John Wick Chapter 2 is awesome and so many people get shot in the head. That’s my review right there.

It was while watching this film when something hit me that I thought I’d like to share and this little bit on information is; John Wick Chapter 2 is a great action flick you can actually watch. Now I know what you are thinking, you can watch any action film right? Here lies the crux of my article…

Modern action films tend to suffer from one of three major problems that make them unwatchable – sometimes they suffer from more then one of the three. Here are the trio of things I really, really dislike about modern action movies.

  • Lens flare
  • Close up shots
  • Shaky cam

That’s the trifecta of bad directing right there. I mean, what is the point in making a film that you can’t actually watch? Please allow me to give you a few examples of what I mean.

Lens Flare

I call the the stand Mr J.J. Abrams and his Star Trek reboot from 2009.

I could only manage to watch around 20 minutes of Star Trek before I had to turn it off because of the excessive use of lens flare. Really, what is the point? The ad campaign for the movie didn’t state that you need to wear sunglasses to watch it. Lens flare is a nice effect when used in moderation, it can set a tone and feel for the film and make some shots look beautiful. But when it is overused like this, its distracting and really annoying.

Do you know how many lens flare effects are in Star Trek? 721 – that’s 721 lens flare effects in just one movie. J.J. Abrams take on Star Trek created a whole internet movement due to the overuse of lens flare. There are memes, You Tube videos making fun, fan made posters of other J.J. Abrams movies with ‘ added lens flare’ and so on. But that didn’t warn off other films from doing the same thing.

Lens flare used to be a thing directors wanted to avoid – why? because they want the viewers to actually be able see the film.

Close Up Shots

Now is the turn of Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot… yeah I’m going there.

I remember being so damn excited to watch Batman Begins back in 2005. I love me some Batman and I so much wanted to see a harder edged take on The Dark Knight on the big screen. I read up on this film before its release and one article really got me interested where Nolan was talking about this form of martial arts called Keysi. Apparently the new Batman, Christian Bale had been training really hard and they were going to showcase this impressive martial art in the new movie… except that didn’t. I left the cinema thinking to myself – WTF did I just watch?

Batman Begins has pretty much become infamous for its beyond terrible fight scenes, and well, all action scenes really. This is mainly due to the fact that Nolan decided to film everything in extreme close up so you couldn’t actually see anything. During fight scenes, you never got to see any actual fighting. What you did get was close up shots of elbows and feet flying all over the screen You couldn’t tell who was hitting who. It was such a waste. Nolan’s excuse was that he wanted Batman to be almost stealth like and you were not supposed to see him. Yeah, that reasoning works for the characters in the film but not the people trying to watch a movie. Batman Begins is one of the worst examples of this… but not the only one.

Shaky cam

I detest shaky cam. The Bourne action film franchise is my main culprit here.

Why, why would you direct a film that makes people feel seasick? Seriously, shaky cam has since gone on to be called ‘queasy cam’ and is the one major piece of camera work that is being vastly overused by pretty much any and everyone directing action films today. Its horrible, it makes the screen blurry and difficult to watch, action scenes become nauseating.

Here is a genuine warning put up at an AMC cinema during a screening of Cloverfield.

I really don’t think I have anything more to add here. A filming technique that makes people physically sick.

Those are the big 3 things I dislike about modern action films and do you know what… none of them are in John Wick Chapter 2. This flick offers action scenes you can actually watch. There is no lens flare – or at least none that I remember feeling intrusive. The fight scenes are well framed and you can clearly make out who is hitting who. There is zero shaky cam, there is a little wobble as some of the film is shot hand-held but nothing that makes you feel sick.

There is an impressive shootout in this flick that takes place in the catacombs under Rome. Its dark down there and this shootout features dozens up on dozens of people getting shot… in the head… a lot. Yet despite it being dark and the mass amount of bullets flying, you can see everything. Every shot, every bullet hit and every dead body. You can also make out who is shooting who, where from and with what guns. Its all well choreographed, framed and directed. All the action scenes in this movie are like this – the car chases (and crashes), the shootouts and the fights.

Another action scene takes place on a tube train. Its a very close quarters fight in a very confined area. No lens flare, no close up shots so you can’t see anything and no shaky cam. A fierce and action packed fight that you can watch.

Every action scene is shot so you can actually watch them and make out exactly what was happening. I know right, an action film where you can watch the action. Unbelievable.

This is what made John Wick Chapter 2 so watchable, because you can actually watch it. To director Chad Stahelski, thank you. Thank you for directing an action film in which you can see the action – for making a film that didn’t require me wearing sunglasses or have me feeling seasick by the end credits. I just hope more directors follow suit and begin filming movies that are watchable.

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