Synopsis: “John Wick 2” is an action and adventure drama. Forced out of retirement, John must commit to doing a hitman job for Santino D'Anotonio. He is bound by a blood oath. Refusing the demand for service is grounds for execution. John's task is to kill Santino's sister, Gianna, in Rome. He wants to take her seat at the High Table to join an international council of crime lords.
Warning: Spoilers in Presentation
Welcome to "Conscious Movie Reviews." I'm your host Joy Davis and here to review the action and adventure drama, "John Wick 2".
Intent on getting his Ford Mustang back, John Wick takes on Abram Tarasov's men at the chop shop, proving his legendary status as a lethal and hyper-focused assassin. Tarasov was allowed to live as a gesture of peace.
While at home, John grieved for the wife he lost. He preferred a solitary existence as a retired hitman with his Pit Bull. It became official when he buried his weapons and gold coins in the basement flooring, then covered it over with concrete.
When he gets a surprise visit from Italian crime lord, Santino D'Antonio, John was presented with a medallion - a symbolic demand for service that can't be refused. It is backed by a "blood oath". John's task is to have Santino's sister, Gianna, killed in order to take her seat at the High Table so he can be among the 12 families represented. Refusing to honor the marker, Santino fired a grenade launcher at John's home from outside, forcing him out of retirement.
Historically, Sicily is a country of secret societies that were formed out of necessity to deal with the foreign overlords who have taken over with their harsh treatment and unjust laws. Members of these secret societies, like the Mafia as one, exchanged code words, took blood vows and oaths of initiation.
The use of blood in a solemn oath can also relate to the Traditional Chinese Medicine understanding that blood moves throughout the body by way of our Life Force, called Qi. So, you are in effect, sealing a deal with blood and your Life.
John traveled by foot with his Pit Bull to the Continental Hotel that serves as a safe house for assassins. He met with Winston, the manager. The rules were recited as a reminder to John that there can be no blood on the Continental grounds AND every marker must be honored. A violation of these rules is a crime punishable by death.
This is a good example of how the Law of Karma works. Also known as the "Law of Compensation" it is exacting, impersonal and unforgiving. No one shall violate divine laws and escape its penalties. Karma is likened to a savings account where a system of debits and credits are balanced, based on your deeds. This was highlighted in the film with the use of blood markers to represent a debt, coins, and female office clerks making formal records of service agreements and financial transactions.
Richard Maybury, a renowned author on legal matters, recognizes that the basis of all laws involve two basic understandings: 1. Do all you have agreed to do and 2. Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
Don Miguel Ruiz, a Shaman and teacher of the ancient Toltec ways in Mexico, teaches that you must be impeccable with your word. Your intent manifests through the word. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you. The misuse of your word is black magic. Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.
At an art museum in New York City, John met with Santino. He would honor the marker to assassinate Gianna in Rome where she will be coronated.
While in Rome, John checked into the local Continental Hotel. Julius, the manager, asked him, "Are you here for the Pope?" This is a good example of John acting as an assassin for hire through an international council of crime lords. Back in 1939, Pope Pius XII ordered the death of Hitler during World War II.
You don't have to look far to find less scrupulous people offering less-scrupulous solutions like contract killings within the Darknet, the "dark side" of the internet. Millions worldwide have visited this area of the web out of curiosity. Futurist Thomas Frey predicts that the Darknet will invent its own justice system by saying, "When something goes wrong on the darknet, there are no police, court systems, judges, or lawyers to talk to. For this reason, a number of darknet "fixer" sites will spring up to manage the failures in a way that can only be described as darknet justice."
As a guest at the Continental Hotel, John was granted special treatment to receive a custom made suit with lightweight armory lining, his choice of high-end weaponry, and a blueprint of Rome's catacombs for completing his mission.
He headed out to infiltrate the night-time celebration for Gianna. When she excused herself to freshen up in the bathroom, John confronted her with the truth about the marker. He was there on her brother's behalf. When she asked him, "Do you fear damnation?" He replied, "Yes." Gianna wanted to die her own way, so she slashed her wrist.
Shamans have a practice of working with the Archetypal Energies of Death and Initiation. Carl Greer, a shamanic practitioner, explained that by dialoguing with death, we can relate to it as an equal and live in harmony with it. With wisdom, we see how we weave life and death and beginnings and endings into all that we do. Ultimately, every day is a good day to die if we live it fully. By honoring this idea, we honor death and honor life.
In trying to escape, John found himself in a gun battle with Santino's men. He managed to eliminate each one, then face off with Gianna's bodyguard, Cassian. It culminated from a shootout to a physical fight, crashing into the Continental's reception area. They regained their composure to observe the rule of no killing in the hotel. Both drank at the bar while Ares, the mute assassin and security officer of Santino, watched. John notified management that he'll be checking out in the morning.
A gun can symbolize your will power. As an accurate shooter, it's a show of John's great power to control his life decisions and self-confidence. Being shot at can metaphorically relate to an emotional assault on your daily life. As the head is often associated with making plans and intentions, shooting at the head can refer to eliminating someone's dangerous plans and bad intentions.
John was also famously known to kill with a pencil. Pencils are often associated with the idea of communication. By using a pencil as a weapon, it may be John's way of reinforcing his words that have no commitment behind them. They can be erased, just like solemn promises he no longer wants to uphold because they no longer serve him.
Santino followed office procedure to order up a $7 million contract for John Wick's death. An official call by cell phone was given out to assassins worldwide.
The fight was on in New York. He escaped each attempt at his life, leaving him badly injured and forced to go another round with Cassian at the train station. It was all guns and knives as before. Their duel on the train left Cassian in near death with a knife to the aorta. He was given mercy as a professional courtesy.
As more assassins chased after him, John found refuge through a homeless assassin. He was one of many in the city, organized by the Bowery King, like an invisible army of hobos at his disposal.
John got treated for his injuries at a homeless shelter. The Bowery King was honored to be in the presence of John, the myth, the legend. He admitted that a master teacher taught him, the student, a valuable lesson in survival by saying, "I didn't hear you coming. You gave me this wounding. A gift from the boogeyman. No one sneaks up on me, thanks to you. I'm all seeing; all knowing." His care of homing pigeons symbolizes communication as information gathering is vital to him for survival.
John asked for his help. He warned about "a storm coming. " Santino wants the whole city. The Bowery King gave him a gun with seven rounds and an underground escort to the art museum where Santino will be.
At the coronation party hosted by Santino, he gave a toast to the future of the High Table and memory of his dear sister. John made his appearance known. It was a rapid-fire gunfight in the museum with Santino escaping to the Hall of Mirrors with Ares and some armed men.
John heard him say, "You should have just run away. You faked your own testament. Killing me won't stop the contract. I think you're addicted to vengeance."
The mirrors were a good use of symbolism to reflect back John's emotional attachment to avenging the death of a loved one. It's reminiscent of many martial arts movies with the same theme. Even the fight scene with mirrors was the filmmaker's way of paying homage to the cult classic, "Enter the Dragon," starring Bruce Lee.
Ares, the mute assassin, offered to finish the job, encouraging Santino to escape. With knife in hand, she was left immobilized in the fight with John.
The choice of having a mute character in the film can represent an instinctual need by men to be silent about what they know because revealing too much can lead to a loss of their personal power, even death. It can also relate to Omerta, the Code of Silence, originally practiced by the Sicilian mafia around the 16th century A.D. When John speaks, he is very careful to do it mindfully and with clear intent.
At the Continental Hotel, Santori was having a meal at the lounge when John arrived. He was compelled to kill, but was warned not to by Winston, the manager. John pulled the trigger, violating the house rule. His senseless act lead to another open contract by the High Table that went international. Through Winston's influence, John's sentence was reduced from execution to Ex-Communicado. No more safe havens and special resources for him.
Borrowing from Catholic Church practices, Winston is like a Bishop issuing an Ex-Communication sentence. Whenever a member is Ex-Communicated, they are formally rejected by the Church and cannot return. Like a license to send the sinful person to hell, it can leave a person traumatized with heavy guilt to bear.
John's choice to kill Santori on the Continental grounds was his own death wish - a form of self-sabotage. He knew the consequences and enacted vengeance anyway. Self-imposed suffering is John's lot in life. Any time you have a need to control, on a subconscious level, you also want things out-of-control.
Through Winston, John was able to get a marker for future use and provide him with a one hour head start before the bounty goes into effect. It was an act of justice to provide the fairness and respect that John earned, but was denied from being double-crossed. Santino's death probably came as a great relief for Winston because John had helped to prevent a war.