In a matter of weeks the sequel to the best action movie of 2014 begins filming. Keanu Reeves returns as the titular master assassin (and dog lover) in John Wick 2 and Chad Stahelski returns to direct alongside producing partner David Leitch.
When the first film came out, we believed it was the perfect new IP to launch a multimedia franchise and it's quickly becoming a reality. From a video game appearance to a quickly greenlit sequel, John Wick's work isn't done yet despite the rather unique and singular premise of the original movie. What sort of story would be fitting for a followup?
Speaking with Collider while promoting his upcoming feature Knock Knock (stay tuned for our interviews this week!), Reeves offered the following details on John Wick 2:
"I think we have a really good premise, and it's an organic premise. It's basically — to me there’s John Wick and then there’s John. You know, John is the married guy whose wife just died, and that five years of his life. Then there’s John Wick, who's the mythical assassin. In this, John Wick's past comes and infiltrates John's life and John Wick, in a way, has to fight for John."
"'Why tell the story? Why do we need to do this again? How do we do that without doing another dog?' So we speak about John Wick, the next chapter, and what is that emotional hook? What is that? So I think we have a good idea of that."
Reeves continues, promising that director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad paid close attention to feedback of the original to discover what worked well to build from. John Wick 2 will explore much more of the assassin's world, the Hotel Continental world, and they'll be evolving the epic action set pieces too.
"We're gonna do the same kind of thing in the sense of — what are the guiding principles? So it’s longer takes, know where you are on the space, who's doing what, action with consequence. And then going to other levels of what the gun-Fu was, which was Jujitsu and Judo mixed with weapons and different styles of weapon training. So we've been opening up, I've been learning some other tools and different styles of that, and trying to develop some more techniques in terms of Judo and Jujitsu and bring those elements into the work. And then we have some other things that might be a little different… But it's all organic. It's not like all of a sudden John Wick has superpowers. It's got to be connected to the character."
Could John Wick sustain an ongoing film franchise? Obviously it depends on the financial success of the followup but the challenge, as Reeves also points out later in the interview is in finding a "reason" for John Wick to be back in the thick of it, and for there to exist another chapter of the story worthy of a full-length feature film. "I don't know, until you do it and it's done, you don't know, because it’s not source material, this is original goodness."
They've cracked the story on what John Wick 2 will be but Reeves is on point in emphasizing the difficulty in matching up to the original movie in terms of delivering a character who audiences can emotionally attach to. A wife passing away and then a dog being brutalized are easy motivators for revenge, but how do you pick up from that once "justice" is served? And how do you do that a third time or a fourth?
We don't know what's in store for the main plot of John Wick 2. However, despite the character adopting another pup at the end of the first movie, it seems the character will be pulled into the action for different reasons this time.
John Wick stars Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Michael Nyvquist (Viggo Tarasov), Alfie Allen (Iosef Tarasov), Adrianne Palicki (Ms Perkins), Bridget Moynahan (Mrs. Wick), Dean Winters (Avi), with Ian McShane (Winston), with John Leguizamo (Aurelio), and Willem Dafoe (Marcus) Written by Derek Kolstad. Directed by Chad Stahelski.
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, JOHN WICK (Keanu Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the "assassin genre".