One of the surprise hits last year was the action film John Wick, which starred Keanu Reeves as a former hit man who looks to exact revenge against his old employers after they kill his new puppy (which was a gift from his late wife). Grossing $80 million worldwide, the movie garnered much critical acclaim (read our review) due to its innovative "gun-fu" action sequences, impressive world-building, and relatable story. After years of box office bombs (47 Ronin), it was nice to see Reeves back on top.
John Wick generated a very strong response within the moviegoing community, and many have expressed their desire for a sequel. We even broke down four reasons why the film was strong enough to build its own franchise. Now, those who have dreamed of a John Wick 2 can celebrate, as Lionsgate is officially moving forward with a sequel.
The studio announced the news in a press release, saying that Reeves, directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, and screenwriter Derek Kolstad are all returning for the anticipated follow-up. Other than that, few other details (like an expected release date, for example) are unknown since the movie is so early along in development.
The John Wick 2 story remains a mystery too - one which Leitch and Stahelski are keeping under lock and key for the time being. However, they have already teased their approach to constructing the sequel:
"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.”
The mindset is very similar to Brad Bird's approach to The Incredibles 2, in that Leitch and Stahelski are committed to making sure they do John Wick (the person) justice before worrying about anything else. They will be going into this film with a lot of forward momentum due to the response of the first movie, so it would be a pity if this blossoming franchise stalled after a weak second entry. It's nice to know that the creative team is not going to rest on their laurels - and seem to be working hard on making something that audiences can appreciate on numerous levels.
Of equal interest will be the production timeline for John Wick 2. Given that Lionsgate is announcing the project now, one would think that the studio is putting it on the fast track. However, Leitch and Stahelski recently became attached to helm an adaptation for the comic Bloodshot and have been rumored for other films such as Cowboy Ninja Viking. From the sound of it however, it seems either Bloodshot (aiming for a 2017 release) or John Wick 2 will be their next film.
Regardless of when we see John Wick back on the big screen, fans can take solace in the fact that Lionsgate isn't going to limit the character to a standalone feature. In an age where segments of fans are becoming disenchanted by some of the expansive shared movie universes studios have in development, this is one continuation that will be widely celebrated. Where Wick goes from here remains to be seen, but it should be a wild ride.
We'll keep you updated on John Wick 2 as more information becomes available.
Header image by WouldCould @ DeviantArt