One of the best things about the first John Wick was the way that writer Derek Kolstad's screenplay gave the film its own kind of original mythology. From the interconnectedness of the underground assassin world to the established rules of that society, it was just as much a revenge tale as it was a fantasy movie, in its own way. Luckily, it looks like the film's sequel, John Wick: Chapter Two, is only going to keep building on that established mythology in new and exciting ways, much to the delight of fans of the first film.
While the sequel lost one of the first film's co-directors too, Chad Stahelski is still returning as director, from another script written solely by Kolstad. Despite the much bigger scope of the sequel as well, it seems like Stahelski and Kolstad have remained adamant about keeping the same qualities that made John Wick such a success in the first place alive in the follow-up.
Speaking with SFX Magazine (H/T Games Radar), Stahelski explained why John Wick: Chapter Two is essentially a modern version of a classic Greek myth, even going so far as to explain which characters and places in the film signify what. Turns out, the idea to take John out of the United States for the sequel actually came from that same train of thought too:
"[T]he Continental would be like the underworld. New York is a great city, because it feels like you're underground, even though you're on the street level because of the high rise and depth of the city. So we were just like, 'OK. The underworld has Hades – you know, the different gatekeepers of it. And everyone's a different kind of god that takes care of a different kind of service.' So we went back and looked at the script like that and broke it down to iconic things like the gold coins, like talismans. The guns obviously become swords. The suits become armour.
[Rome has] a much older history. If anything, it grounds and gives our world a lot more history and folklore than we could have done in America. If anything, it's the most expansive thing you could do for the world, because it shows you it's been around a lot longer than just the United States. And when you say 'myth', it doesn't just mean 'ancient'; it means there's a lot of roots to the story. John Wick is just passing through."
It's not easy to make a successful, original action franchise nowadays, especially when movie stars really aren't as much of a selling point as they were in the '80s, '90s, and even early 2000s. More often than not now, it's filmmakers and brands that make franchises or original films successful; which means that whenever a new franchise comes along, it has to offer some kind of hook for the audience to grab ahold of. That is why John Wick has become such an interesting property over the past few years, because it's not made by well-known directors, and Keanu Reeves really doesn't have the same kind of pull he used to.
But what made John Wick so successful was the way it told its story, and introduced its world. Similar to how George Lucas established the Star Wars universe in A New Hope, Kolstad's script planted different pieces of information about the film's world throughout its story. It left audiences wanting more because they really hadn't seen anything like it before. Luckily, based on the early reactions to the movie and the footage released so far, it seems like Chapter Two is continuing that same pattern. The fact that it then manages to bring engaging and well-made action sequences also, is just icing on the cake.
Source: Games Radar
- John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) release date: Feb 10, 2017