Hollywood thrillers get quite a bit right these days. In a post Casino Royale, and Batman Begins world, action movies bring gritty violence, and heroes that audiences can emotionally invest in. However, one area where numerous action franchises tend to fall flat comes in the characterization of their villains.
For all the things it did right — and that’s a long list — even surprise action hit John Wick failed to include any truly memorable or iconic villains. However, it would appear that the Keanu Reeves-headlined sequel, known simply as John Wick 2 for the time being, might not have that problem.
According to THR, rapper turned surprisingly solid actor (and Oscar-winner) Common has been tapped to portray the film’s primary antagonist. Despite a notable scarcity of details regarding the project, the report indicates that Common will portray a female crime lord’s head of security. This could seemingly indicate that Common’s character will provide the visceral, physical threat while a currently unrevealed big bad pulls the strings.
In many ways the original John Wick spent so much time building its world that it never got around to giving the deadly protagonist a true on screen equal. The film gave him some great acquaintances such as Winston (Ian McShane) and Marcus (Willem Defoe) and some strong minor rivalries like Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) but ultimately the film’s two primary antagonists Viggo and Iosef Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist and Alfie Allen) fell short when compared to the rest of the film’s exemplary qualities
If history is anything to go by, the role should be in good hands as Common recently solidified his villainous chops as hitman Price in the Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night. In terms of both raw menace and sheer physicality, Common more than held his own against Neeson — whose movies similarly tend to focus on the hero and shortchange the villains. Price’s calculated, proper demeanor elevated the character above many of the film’s more grounded elements — and much of that hand to do with the way Common handled the role.
That being said, a villain is only as good as the script will allow him or her to be, so at this point it’s on screenwriter Derek Kolstad to give Common the material he needs to work with in order to make this villain great.
We’ll bring you more information on John Wick 2 as it becomes available.
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