February 2015 saw Matthew Vaughn’s tongue-in-cheek secret agent movie/comic book adaptation Kingsman: The Secret Service play in theaters to sizable crowds and positive word of mouth. A full-blown trend of R-Rated hit movies opening in the first half of February was then established a year after Kingsman‘s arrival, when Tim Miller’s irreverent superhero flick Deadpool arrived on the scene and became the surprise runaway critical/commercial success story of 2016. Question now is, can this year’s own February, R-Rated, action franchise installment, John Wick: Chapter Two, keep that trend going for three years in a row?
The first John Wick movie was released in 2014 and quickly became a cult success, thanks to its strong word of mouth and lean production budget of “only” $20 million. Similar to the Deadpool sequel that’s now in development, the second John Wick film isn’t expected to deviate too far from the B-movie design and tone of its predecessor. At the same time though, John Wick: Chapter Two does aim to up the ante in terms of the shoot-outs, “gun-fu” and related spectacle that its predecessor delivered to audiences a few years back. In fact, the latest John Wick 2 poster promises so much itself.
John Wick: Chapter Two follows its namesake (once again played by Keanu Reeves) as he travels to Rome, in order to fulfill a blood oath that he owes to an old acquaintance; played by Reeves’ real-life former Matrix trilogy costar, Laurence Fisburne. Similar to how a previously-released John Wick: Chapter Two poster has fun with certain gun-related puns, Lionsgate has released a new poster for the sequel (see the one-sheet below) that comes with a post on Twitter that promises a “Bigger bang. Shorter fuse.”
Joining Reeves and Fisburne as members of the larger ensemble for John Wick: Chapter Two are returning John Wick players Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo. The new cast additions this round include the Oscar-winning actor/musician Common (Suicide Squad) and this year’s ubiquitous action movie actor Ruby Rose – as well as Peter Stormare (The Blacklist) – as members of the hit-man/assassin underworld that Wick must navigate during his trip abroad in Europe in the sequel. John Wick helmsman Chad Stahelski is directing the followup on his own from a script by the first movie’s (returning) screenwriter, Derek Kolstad
The elements are in place for John Wick: Chapter Two to be another great action/thriller in its own right, in other words; question now is, can the movie fulfill its potential. John Wick (Chapter One) has a simple, yet compelling emotional throughline to drive its narrative (see: John seeks revenge for the death of his dog; a final gift from his deceased wife), as well as intriguing world-building and slick action sequences to make its setting one that moviegoers would want to revisit in the sequel. That alone ensured that there was a demand for more John Wick in the first place; so again, now it’s up to the sequel to deliver on its end of the bargain.