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.


The Gift is no “Ordinary” Thriller

The Gift is a slow, intense thriller that builds suspense with every moment. Right from the beginning I found myself anticipating a surprise. The surprises did come, and were made all the more interesting because of the “ordinariness” of the situations in which they occurred.

The Gift Poster HR

Poster: supplied.

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Gone Girl stayed for too long

A review by Brenda Daniels

In Gone Girl, the wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), goes missing on the morning of the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick seems vague and somewhat helpless in his subsequent dealings with the police and viewers begin to suspect him of possible involvement in her mysterious disappearance.

Flashbacks to the couple’s increasingly difficult relationship certainly support this view. Easy to overlook, however, is a brief, fairly innocuous scene that hints at Amy’s dysfunctional childhood. This past has important ramifications on the plot as events in Gone Girl become increasingly sinister.

A series of clues in an anniversary game are placed by Amy in strategic places for Nick to find. Each clue reveals more of the characters’ motives and actions. These include infidelity, revenge and a desperate grasping for control.

Character development in this film is good and the filial relationship between Nick and his twin sister Margo is well portrayed. Gradual, intricate plot revelations keep Gone Girl from sinking into a typical revenge offering.

Nevertheless I found the film far too long (two and a half hours) with an unrealistic ending that trailed off unsatisfactorily.

According to IMDB, people who liked this film also liked The Equaliser.

Gone Girl opens at NuMetro theatres countrywide in South Africa on 10 October. It carries an age restriction of 16LVS.

Ben Affleck stars in Gone Girl as Nick Dunne who is searching for his missing wife. Photo: Creative Commons.

Ben Affleck stars in Gone Girl as Nick Dunne who is searching for his missing wife. Photo: Creative Commons.

Rosamund Pike stars in Gone Girl as the missing wife of Dunne. Photo: Creative Commons.

Rosamund Pike stars in Gone Girl as the missing wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) Photo: Creative Commons.

Brosnan thrills in The November Man

A review by Brenda Daniels

The November Man is a fast-paced thriller starring Pierce Brosnan in excellent form as abrasive CIA Agent, Peter Devereaux. The film opens in the midst of a tense operation that sees Devereaux on mission while training young CIA sniper, Mason (Luke Bracey).

Although highly accurate, Mason fails to follow Devereaux’s orders and the mission is botched: an innocent bystander, a child, is killed. The elements in this opening scene hint at what is to come in the rest of the film, introducing important strands that run throughout: an intricate plot, high-intensity action, and a surprising underlying theme of relationship. The latter gives The November Man depth and richness.

The main story sees Devereaux called in to perform a difficult mission in Chechnya. When things go awry it becomes apparent that the Russians, Chechneans and two strands of the CIA are all after one woman: Alice (Olga Kurylenko). Devereax’s and Alice’s pasts, and Mason’s former dealings with Devereaux all gradually come to light as the story progresses.

Tension is maintained throughout The November Man and the intricate plot meant I had to concentrate. The relationship element is an important one – one to which Brosnan did eminent justice.

The November Man is a thrilling, engrossing watch. It opens at NuMetro theatres in South Africa on 3 October.

Pierce Brosnan at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Creative Commons

Pierce Brosnan at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Creative Commons