John Wick: Chapter 2 is an Absurd Catch 22

Image: supplied by Ster Kinekor

When I looked up John Wick: Chapter 2 on IMDb (Internet Movie Database) the rating for this film was 8.2. ‘Ooh,’ I thought, ‘it must be good.’

After seeing this ‘action, crime, thriller’ I was less enthusiastic and thought I’d investigate how the IMDb rating system works. This is a statement on their website:

Weighted Average Ratings

IMDb publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. Various filters are applied to the raw data in order to eliminate and reduce attempts at vote stuffing by people more interested in changing the current rating of a movie than giving their true opinion of it.

The exact methods we use will not be disclosed. This should ensure that the policy remains effective. The result is a more accurate vote average.

 Votes are posted to IMDb by viewers and quite detailed viewer demographics are listed on the site. And when I looked it up the critic reviews’ metascore was listed as 75 for John Wick: Chapter 2 (compared at the same time to, for instance, Trainspotting T2’s rating at 7.8 and metascore at 62).

I was pleased to see that the critic reviews ranged from as low as 40 (Trainspotting’s lowest was 50). Pleased because I loathed this movie. Knowing now how the IMDb system works I feel free to state with a clear conscience that I am not trying to ‘stuff’ up the votes. I am simply adding my own (very low) vote to the others’.

In this film John Wick (played by a toneless Keanu Reeves) has exited a criminal organisation (something like the Italian mob) but is handed a ‘marker’ that forces him to re-enter it. He is tasked with killing one person, and slays a whole lot of others in his getaway attempt. He does this using stashed arms and fighting off baddies who conveniently attack him one at a time. Wick’s killing of the target enacts a ‘marker’ on his head in return and so this catch 22 cycle (unfortunately) continues. I was very sad to see that Chapter 2 may easily give way to Chapter 3.


Image: supplied by Ster Kinekor

The phrase ‘Catch 22’, incidentally, was created by Joseph Heller who published a book by the same name in 1961. Catch 22 means ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’, something Heller’s American army characters experience over and over again in his story. Shortly before watching John Wick: Chapter 2 I listened to Catch 22 on Audible. The narration was brilliant and the story was cleverly written in a style that resembled catch 22 itself. It was ridiculously funny in parts and this humour belied the atrocities – and pointlessness – of war. So, entertainment and food for thought there. I found the style so frustrating, however, that it was hard to keep going (I don’t know how the author did). But then again, that may be what Heller was trying to achieve.

I think viewers are supposed to see John Wick: Chapter 2 as entertaining (and clearly from the IMDb votes many people did) and to admire this clever assassin. I just found the whole thing ridiculous and pointless. No food for thought there.


Angst and Entertainment with Audio Books

One of the members in the book club I recently joined regularly listens to audio books. I had never tried audio versions before but was keen for a number of reasons. I could give my eyes a rest. I could listen while doing other things like cooking, travelling and housework. All of this would mean getting through books quicker. I decided to give it a go with the next book on the club’s list: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I signed up with Audible through Amazon. This service costs around $15 a month. I’m not sure at this stage how many books I can get for that price but will keep a close eye on it. Kindle versions of books, for instance, are always cheaper than the paper version, even when converted to South African rands. So I’ll compare the books on Audible (which I can cancel at any stage) with Kindle as I go along.

the-kind-worth-killingThe Kind Worth Killing, it turns out, is full of sex and murder. The main character, Lilly, a calm and collected psychopath was fairly well drawn as a woman by a male author. At first I didn’t like the story, feeling like I’d entered a Gone Girl type tale narrated in American accents. But then the murder aspect became more intriguing and outdid the sex bits. Things were looking up and I found myself listening at every spare moment. The narration switches between two main characters, a writing technique I have come to enjoy as it adds to the tension. The conclusion to the book is quite satisfying if somewhat of a surprise. Appraisal: good for a first audible book experience.

What was a bit disconcerting about the experience, however, was how much I thought other people could hear of my book. I listened to it while travelling to East London by aeroplane and, despite using earphones, found myself self-consciously turning down the volume when the sex and murder heated up. At home I felt much freer. I removed the earphones, turned up the volume and carried my device from room to room. Even there though I wasn’t spared anxiety. We live in a townhouse just about two metres away from the next-door neighbours. “And then we had sex…” blared out from my bathroom too late for me to quieten the offensive words; goodness, I wonder what they thought of me?

Not to be dissuaded, I am pressing on with the audible experience. I look forward to the next one in my library: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.