John Wick: Chapter 2

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

In a perfect world, the movie's title would be John Wick 2: Electric Boogaloo. Alas, we do not live in that world.

Netflix thought I'd like this a lot more than I did. It's OK, but eh.

At the end of the last movie, John I-just-wanna-retire-because-I-don't-want-to-be-an-assassin-anymore Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a loose end to tie up from the last movie, getting his sweet car back. This involves killing a lot of people. And mostly destroying the car. But, anyway, he's ready to bury the hatchet after that. And also burying an array of weaponry and gold coins.

But (and there's always one of those) a new bad guy shows up and coerces John into a new job: killing the bad guy's sister so that he can get her seat in some underworld crime organization.

So what ensues is a lot of violence, but we kind of get the point: Wick is the kind of guy who can take on dozens of killers concurrently, leaving them all mostly dead, while just incurring some minor boo-boos himself. I lost track of how many of these mass-carnage set pieces there were. They differ only in their settings (which, truth be told, are decently imagined).

One nice touch: Laurence Fishburne! I think he and Keanu were in some other movies too, right?

Spoiler: the movie ends with John in big trouble with nearly everyone left alive. And, oh yeah, that means John Wick 3: Parabellum. I pre-emptively declare: not going to bother.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Probably the last of the summer blockbusters we'll get to. We waited for the hoopla to die down some, and it was pretty easy to get our usual seats. (Third row center, baby!)

Ethan Hunt (played by a young actor named Tom Cruise) and his team (minus Jeremy Renner) are back. So is the lunatic evil genius from the previous movie, with a new wicked apocalyptic scheme.

You might understand what's going on better if you remember the previous movie. Unfortunately, I thought the previous movie was pretty forgettable, and hence… I forgot most of the details. Sigh.

The bad guy's plans include mass terror and death, sure. That's standard operating procedure. But they also involve exacting personal revenge on Ethan and his ex-wife. Someone should have told the bad guy that adding needless complications to your nefarious plots can increase chances for failure.

So: masks, deceptions, fights, chases, gunplay, betrayal. The action is not non-stop, but when it starts, it goes on for a long time. It's imaginative and (often) funny. I could joke about how Tom Cruise does his own stunts, as described in many articles out there, but… you know what? I actually consider this kind of awesome.

And yes, it's "good". In the sense that I didn't fall asleep. But there are little "this is a movie" moments. For example, the doomsday McGuffin is weirdly complex, in a way that invites you to think: "yeah, that design kind of dictates exactly how the last scenes are going to play out."

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 10:30 comments on differential geographical mobility between the good guys and bad:

    30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
        but the wicked will not remain in the land.

    I could see that. Once you get a reputation for wickedness, it might be time to move on, to a new place where people don't know you.

  • Matthew Hoy has a tour de force on the recent collective newspaper editorializing objecting to Trump's media, um, criticism: The Wrong Way to Restore Media Credibility

    Today, at the behest of the Boston Globe, more than 350 newspapers, large and small, are publishing editorials taking aim at President Donald Trump’s constant complaining about “Fake News” and the biased news media. This is the wrong way to restore media credibility in the people who already mistrust what reporters are telling them.

    I urge you (more strongly than usual) to click over and RTWT. Especially telling: his collection of Time magazine covers featuring Obama and Trump.

  • On the same topic, our Tweet du Jour from Iowahawk:

    Fact check: true.

  • But also in the news was Elizabeth Warren's latest scheme; you can read her own description in (of all places) the Wall Street Journal here (if you can jump the paywall): Companies Shouldn’t Be Accountable Only to Shareholders.

    Sounds innocuous, right? Wrong! At NR, Kevin D. Williamson analyzes: Elizabeth Warren’s Batty Plan to Nationalize . . . Everything.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has one-upped socialists Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: She proposes to nationalize every major business in the United States of America. If successful, it would constitute the largest seizure of private property in human history.

    Warren’s proposal is dishonestly called the “Accountable Capitalism Act.” Accountable to whom? you might ask. That’s a reasonable question. The answer is — as it always is — accountable to politicians, who desire to put the assets and productivity of private businesses under political discipline for their own selfish ends. It is remarkable that people who are most keenly attuned to the self-interest of CEOs and shareholders and the ways in which that self-interest influences their decisions apparently believe that members of the House, senators, presidents, regulators, Cabinet secretaries, and agency chiefs somehow are liberated from self-interest when they take office through some kind of miracle of transcendence.

    Williamson notes that this is a "go-nowhere" proposal, designed only to woo the lefties in her party for her 2020 Presidential run.

    Also at NR, David French (Elizabeth Warren’s Corporate Reform Bill Is a Terribly-Written Mess) and Charles "Conservatarian Wisdom" Cooke (Elizabeth Warren Is Trying to Have It Both Ways).

  • But let's skip over to Reason and Scott Shackford: Elizabeth Warren Plans To Destroy Capitalism By Pretending To ‘Save’ It. Among many problems:

    Warren even complains in her commentary that "companies are setting themselves up to fail" by funneling earnings to shareholders rather than reinvesting them. Assuming this is true, what does this have to do with her? Let them fail. This is why there is a marketplace. Why keep a poorly managed company alive if it's not creating value and drawing customers?

    But Warren isn't really concerned about businesses failing. She's worried about the ones that succeed despite operating in ways that she doesn't like. What she really wants to is put the federal government in a position of evaluating and approving how companies grow. She wants to substitute the decisions of people who run businesses with the prejudices and preferences of people who think like she does. And she wants to use the courts to enforce her ideas of how corporations should be managed.

    Is the problem with US capitalism really that (as Shackford puts it) "there aren't enough people telling the biggest businesses what to do"? I don't think so.

  • Michael Munger, writing at the American Institute for Economic Research has a new way to look at things: Your Ticket to Capitalism Is Free.

    How much would you pay for a ticket to Walmart?

    That seems like a silly question. You don’t have to pay to get into Walmart. In fact, when you get to the door, you usually get greeted by a nice old person who offers you a cart to use.

    But how much would you pay? That’s the way to think about the value of capitalism, to consumers: What would it be worth to have access to the markets where you can buy the things you want?

    We take things for granted. We shouldn't.

  • I rarely find C-SPAN transcripts funny, but this one is pretty good: Hatch: Dems Are on ‘Fishing Trip’ for Kavanaugh Scandal.

    "Consider the damning evidence already uncovered in these documents: Judge Kavanaugh goes to church on Sunday morning, he appreciates pizza when he’s working late, he thought the last play of a Redskins game was ‘a total disgrace,’" Hatch said. "Mdm. President, if these mundanities aren’t grounds for disqualification, then what is? What more do we have to learn about Judge Kavanaugh before we can see him for what he truly is: Joseph Stalin without the mustache or as one of my colleagues so calmly put it, a man who will ‘pave the pave [sic] to tyranny.’"

    The senator channeled Democrats in facetiously suggesting Kavanaugh's "vanilla ice cream cone" persona may be the greatest ruse.

    "If I could tell the American people one thing today, it would be this: Judge Kavanaugh may seem like the human incarnation of a vanilla ice cream cone. But he’s actually something far more sinister," Hatch said. "Judging by the rhetoric coming from the left, I’m convinced that this minivan-driving carpool dad is actually the second coming of Genghis Khan?"

    There's video at the link. Hatch's delivery needs work. Frequent stumbles, and (yes) he really did say "pave the pave" when he clearly meant to say "pave the path".

    (Although give him a break, he's 84 years old!)

    He is, I'm virtually certain, just reading words some (very clever) staffer wrote for him.

    Still funny, though.

  • I was wondering the other day whether Ted Cruz's amendment to the Defense appropriation bill about Confucius Institutes would have any effect on the University Near Here. Turns out the answer is no, but I had to surf on over to a Chinese newspaper site, the Global Times, to find that out: US defense act has limited impact on Confucius Institute.

    The act only affects universities with a Confucius Institute and Chinese-language programs funded by the US Department of Defense, Wang Yige, a staffer at the Confucius Institute at the University of New Hampshire, told the Global Times via email on Wednesday.

    "There are only about five such universities in the US," Wang said.

    Wang Yige, or as the University calls him, Yige Wang, is not a mere "staffer", he's the Confucius Institute Co-Director. But whatever, I'll take his word for it.

    I should note that the Global Times is an offshoot of the People's Daily, the print organ of the Chinese Communist dictatorship. Entertaining editorial: Rubio reveals McCarthyist tendency of US:

    The University of North Florida announced that it will close a campus branch of the Confucius Institute Wednesday. "After reviewing the classes, activities and events sponsored over the past four years and comparing them with the mission and goals of the university, it was determined that they weren't aligned," the university said in a statement.

    Apparently the decision was made under pressure from US Senator Marco Rubio's repeated warnings this year. Rubio welcomed the decision and urged other Florida universities to follow suit. Cracking down on Confucius Institutes is a typical example of US politics intervening in university education. There are about 110 Confucius Institutes in the US, and about 500 Confucius Classrooms. Almost no students ever criticized the organizations for improper lessons. It has always been the US elites who accuse Confucius Institutes of ideological infiltration or even spying.

    Their conclusion: "Rubio and the Pentagon have showed Chinese people what kind of a country the US really is." Ooh, sick burn.

    According to this Union Leader article from last February, UNH's Confucius Institute will undergo a "thorough review" next year. (This is the only recent local news coverage I've been able to dig up, though.)

Last Modified 2018-12-27 7:47 AM EDT