One of the biggest cinematic surprises in 2014 was the action flick John Wick. A comeback vehicle of sorts for star Keanu Reeves, the revenge thriller wowed moviegoers with its invigorating "gun-fu" action sequences and slick design. Upon its release, John Wick earned critical acclaim (read our review) and made a decent penny at the box office - $86 million worldwide on just a $20 million budget.
The response to the first film paved the way for a sequel, officially titled John Wick: Chapter Two. Most of the creative team remains intact; the followup will draw from a script by Derek Kolstad with Chad Stahelski directing solo. His partner in crime last time around, David Leitch, is currently working on The Coldest City with Charlize Theron. Plot details remain largely under wraps, but Reeves has now shared some details about the story and new characters.
Speaking with IGN, Reeves discussed how they're approaching the narrative, looking to dive deeper into the mythology of the world created for the original:
“For us it was just what is the next chapter? What is the continuation of this story? Opening up the world – the underground world. The world behind the world in terms of the assassins. Kind of evolving the action – if the first one was a black belt, then this one is third degree black belt. It’s such a fun project and a great character.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the first John Wick was the impressive world building that was on display. Elements like the Continental Hotel and the society of hitmen gave the film unique elements that helped it stand out from the crowd, elevating it beyond standard action fare. Many viewers are interested to see more of the universe, so much so that John Wick is on its way to becoming a multimedia franchise. While it remains to be seen what exactly awaits Wick in the "underground world" (Reeves did mention he travels to Rome), it's exciting to hear that the sequel will further explore what was only hinted at in the first film, adding intrigue to the proceedings.
In addition, Reeves spoke about a couple of his new co-stars: Laurence Fishburne and Peter Stormare. Revealing certain aspects about the characters they play, Reeves had nothing but nice things to say about their performances:
“Laurence has this fantastic role as a character in the Underworld called The Bowery King. He plays such a great character in the piece and he brings of course humor, intelligence, charisma and fascination – he’s such an incredible actor and it was a pleasure to work with him again. And Peter Stormare – Stormare has more of a cameo in it but again he brings such fun and mystery and this mixture of groundedness and the surreal.”
Reeves and Fisburne, of course, appeared together in the Matrix trilogy, with the relationship between their Neo and Morpheus a definite strongpoint of that series. Set photos have shown the pair on set, so one can only hope that Fishburne has a sizable role, allowing Stahelski to show off the chemistry of his stars. Given Reeves' quotes on the matter, it would appear that the Bowery King is someone who is at the very least familiar with John Wick, since he's a part of the underworld of assassins that will serve as the setting. It's unknown if this mysterious figure and Stormare's character are friends or foes of the protagonist, so it will be interesting to see how they fit into the story.
All in all, John Wick 2 is shaping up to be an entertaining sequel to one of the better action movies in recent memory. Stahelski and Reeves established the former hitman as a new genre icon, and they've recruited a hard-hitting supporting cast to play off of the fan-favorite leading man. Couple that with the fact the intention is to craft a worthwhile character story like the original, there's a strong chance John Wick 2 will be the latest in the growing line of R-rated February box office hits when it's released next year.
John Wick: Chapter Two will hit theaters February 10, 2017.