John Wick – the Keanu Reeves-starring assassin B-movie-thriller – earned a lot of critical acclaim when it hit theaters last year; and though it only grossed $79 million worldwide (including $43 million in the U.S.), it did so on just a $20 million budget. Meaning, fans of the movie hoping for a sequel could well end up getting their wish granted.
Longtime stunt coordinators/second unit directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski made their debut as helmers on John Wick. Their work on that film has very much gotten them attention from the rest of the industry, as evidenced by them being currently in talks to direct Chris Pratt in the Cowboy Ninja Viking comic book movie. Assuming that deal works out, though, their third directorial effort could end up being John Wick 2 – seeing as the pair claim they’ve already begun developing the sequel.
Nothing is set in stone yet, of course, be it in terms of the production timetable for a John Wick sequel or casting – though, Leitch and Staehlski told Movies.com (during an interview) that “If we could work with Keanu Reeves for 10 movies you’d have a really cool career.” For now, however, their focus with John Wick 2 is making sure the title character remains a compelling protagonist in the sequel.
Here’s the quote from Stahelski on his and Leitch’s approach to John Wick 2 (which he confirmed is “in development right now”):
“We have ideas for days and without blinking twice we know we can outdo the action from the original. It’s the matter of story and how much you like the character. That’s always the most important. If there’s great action but you have a character that no one likes and doesn’t have charisma you’re not going to watch it. Look at any great action star, whether it’s Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson or Robert Downey Jr., pick a name, you love the guy first. Good action, bad action, you just love them in action. So we want to make sure we have a story and a character that everybody loves and then we’ll dress it with action that we promise will be awesome.”
Action movie sequels often fall into the trap of going bigger and badder – in terms of pure spectacle – than their predecessors, but also doing so at the expense of the quality of storytelling (see: The Raid 2). For that reason, it’s nice to hear Leitch and Stahelski are confident enough in their ability to deliver satisfying fistfights/shoot-outs that their main priority is just getting the plot/character development in John Wick 2 right first.
John Wick‘s comic book-esque Noir world building – creating an interesting underground society of rule-abiding assassins – and approach to presenting the Wick character (a modern Man With No Name archetype) were, in many ways, as key to the film’s enjoyability as its hard-hitting “gun fu” sequences. Which is to say, many fans of the movie are just interested in seeing its setting explored in greater depth as they are to watch Reeves kill even more nefarious crooks – something its directors seem to be aware of, thankfully.
It’s no secret that most of our staff are among the John Wick fans who liked its lean, mean B-movie design (read our review), so we’ll be keeping out fingers crossed that a sequel comes to fruition. As a bonus, John Wick 2 would have the room to introduce even more crazy, larger than life, characters – as most of the players in the first installment were no longer breathing by the time the eponymous character was done with his vengeance-fueled quest.
We’ll bring you up to speed on development for John Wick 2 as more information is made available.
“John Wick” artwork by DavidRapozaArt @ DeviantArt