Tag Archives: John Wick 2

Failed Critics Podcast: Wick, Wall and ‘wards


Firstly, apologies for the admittedly rubbish hatchet job on the editing this week. Long story short, after spending ages editing out the ums, pauses, yeahs, anyways, clicks, clacks, mic noises, talking over each other and insufferably bad jokes (maybe not so many of the latter), the project crashed. So much for recovery files. That just leaves a very (very) rushed edit – on the plus side, you get to hear for the first time in years just how an unedited Failed Critics podcast sounds!

Secondly, at least all the content that was worth listening to survived! Hooray? Hooray! That means this episode contains our full preview of this weekend’s Academy Awards… of which you can also pick the films you think will win an Oscar in the 11 categories below to win super-cool prizes* by leaving a comment in the box below.

*not necessarily super-cool.

There are also reviews of a bunch of new releases in this week’s episode. The action-thriller John Wick: Chapter 2 has Owen and Brooker wondering if it really is the best film of the year. Steve most definitely did not wonder for very long whether he found the best film of the year with The Great Wall. Paul also thinks he may have found the most boring film of the year with The Founder.

Join us again next week as we round-up the winners and losers from the Oscars 2017.



1) Best Picture
Arrival – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde
Fences – Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black
Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic and David Permut
Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
Hidden Figures – Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, and Theodore Melfi
La La Land – Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt
Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder
Manchester by the Sea – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, and Kevin J. Walsh
Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

2) Best Director
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

3) Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash
Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

4) Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc
Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy
Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea as Patrick Chandler
Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals as Detective Bobby Andes

6) Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi

7) Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women – Mike Mills

8) Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival – Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Fences – August Wilson from Fences by August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Lion – Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney

9) Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, and Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini – Claude Barras and Max Karli
The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer

10) Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Denmark) in Danish – Martin Zandvliet
A Man Called Ove (Sweden) in Swedish – Hannes Holm
The Salesman (Iran) in Persian – Asghar Farhadi
Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal – Martin Butler and Bentley Dean
Toni Erdmann (Germany) in German – Maren Ade

11) Best Documentary – Feature
Fire at Sea – Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, and Hébert Peck
Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow
13th – Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, and Howard Barish

John Wick: Chapter 2

“Can a man like you know peace?”

Couple of years back, the first John Wick film came out of nowhere and blew those of us that knew about it away. Word of mouth quickly made it a surprise hit and soon enough it became the measuring stick for all modern action thrillers.

Watching the once uninteresting Keanu Reeves rack up an impressive body count with outstanding stunt work, and brilliant fight and gun choreography, John Wick was the action movie equivalent of great porn.

So of course we now have a sequel.

A few hours after the end of director (and stuntman) Chad Stahelski’s previous film, John Wick’s past appears to have caught up with him. The formally retired assassin is handed a contract that would be terminal to refuse, so heads to Rome to work on regaining his freedom.

As is always the way, things aren’t as simple as they seem and Wick finds himself a loose end in somebody else’s plan. Now, he’s worrying less about retiring and more about surviving the tidal wave of bad guys on his tail.

What? You wanted a more in depth story? Sorry, that’s not what John Wick nor its sequel are about.

What John Wick: Chapter 2 is about, is expanding and improving on almost every element of the original thriller’s already excellent pedigree. It’s about taking all the action, the gun play, the superbly cinematic fighting and turning them all up to eleven.

Let’s be honest: a plot which revolves around a retired hitman resurrecting his demons because some clueless yob killed his dog and stole his car, is simultaneously cliched and beyond ridiculous. What makes John Wick stand out is not only how ludicrously absurd it is, but how fully it commits to that absurdity. The choreography behind Reeves’s stunts and (what has lovingly come to be known as) “gun-fu” skills makes the martial arts shit that earned Cardboard Keanu all that praise back in his The Matrix days, look like kids playing at being Bruce Lee.

Chapter 2 of this franchise follows the standard sequel blueprint. From the opening scene (resembling the car-combat of a Twisted Metal game) through to the destruction of our main character’s home at the hands of an insane mobster with a grenade launcher; John Wick 2 ups the ante in almost every way that the returning directors are able. And that’s just the first quarter of an hour.

Quickly finding himself in Rome – one of my favourite parts of this film that isn’t the firearm based destruction of any and all bad guys – we get to glimpse into the underworld that John Wick inhabits. Needing a new arsenal for his new country, it’s an absolute delight to watch the assassin tool up for his latest job, picking and choosing weaponry and outfits like the rest of us would choose what aftershave to wear.

Now we get to see Mr. Wick plough through a never ending tidal wave of bad guy cannon fodder. Nameless, faceless goons with absolutely no stock in the story being told are here simply to up the body count. The only real downside is that the big bad guy of the piece (played by the supremely average Riccardo Scamarcio) kind of falls into this same category. He just doesn’t provide any real sense of threat, or even a little mild peril. He’s as generic an Italian mobster as you can imagine. Tony Soprano this guy ain’t. The poor guy didn’t have a chance.

Scamarcio is introduced to us not five minutes after we have been given a glimpse of greatness, as (the always amazing) Peter Stormare shows up as the Russian mob boss trying to make peace with the contract killer after the events of the first film. You’ve really got to pull out the big guns if you want to have your main bad guy be comparable to Stormare. But that is a minor niggle in such a great film.

Whilst on paper, John Wick: Chapter 2 seems almost generic in its averageness, this would be the worst book to judge by its slightly bland cover. It may look like it should be a straight-to-dvd action film, but it is in fact one of the greatest action films to be released in ages; possibly the best since Wick’s first outing.

A breathtaking, two hour-long, ultra-violent ballet of guns and hand-to-hand combat that is, even at this early stage of the year, in contention for the best film of 2017.

Failed Critics Podcast: The Guys on the Pod


All aboard!

Every week Owen Hughes rides the Failed Critics steam train from host Steve Norman’s caravan park in Swanage all the way to guest Andrew Brooker’s residence in Milton Keynes, stopping at the exact same point along the way to peer through the windows of the FC HQ in Oxford.

Unfortunately there are no affairs or murders for him to observe and fantasise about, only a depressed version of himself wondering why the bloody hell he sits through these uninspiring movies that 2016 keeps on churning out. Specifically the latest to cross the team’s path, The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt.

This week’s journey also pulls in at the games and tech podcast Super Pixels Radio stop. Failed Critics debutant Elliot Beverley chats with Owen about the animated stop-motion family movie, Kubo and the Two Strings.

We also have the buffet cart stocked with the latest trailers from the New York Comic Convention. It’s got all of your favourites only slightly overpriced, including Power Rangers, John Wick 2, Iron Fist, and the new Resident Evil and War of the Planet of the Apes teasers.

In What We’ve Been Watching, Brooker leaves the quiet carriage to shout about the Ghostbusters extended edition, while Steve shimmies out of the bog after feeling less than Supersonic to review the new Oasis documentary, as well as revisiting The Martian for the first time since its cinema release.

Join us again next week for a triple bill of film franchises that should’ve ended before reaching a trilogy.