Action movie fans got a new hero to enjoy back in 2014 when John Wick hit the scene. Earning widespread praise from critics and making a pretty penny at the box office ($86 million worldwide on a $20 million budget), Lionsgate knew that the response was positive enough to launch a franchise. They'll put that belief to the test early next year when the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 is released in theaters. The studio used the recently passed New York Comic-Con as the venue to kickoff their marketing campaign, debuting the first teaser trailer at a panel for many excited fans.
One of the most impressive elements of the first John Wick was the world building on display, and director Chad Stahelski is looking to expand the universe in the followup. That of course means introducing audiences to new characters who did not appear in the original. This time around, John has another batch of villains to do battle against, but viewers will also get to meet some of his longtime friends. The fresh faces of Chapter 2 take center stage in a collection of still images Lionsgate has just released.
The pictures show John Wick looking through a crowd (probably searching for henchmen to kill), Laurence Fishburne's Bowler King, Ruby Rose's villain Ares, and Riccardo Scamarcio raising his gun to attack someone off-screen. You can check out the photos below:
At NYCC, it was revealed that the Bowler King is an ally of Wick's seeking payment on a blood oath John made with him prior to retiring. Per the official synopsis, John's mission this time around is to help the Bowler King assume control of an international assassins' guild. He travels to Rome and embarks on a journey that will pit him against some of the world's deadliest killers. For cinephiles, it should be a treat to see Reeves and Fishburne sharing the screen once again, after the two displayed strong chemistry with each other in the Matrix trilogy. Their relationship in Chapter 2 sounds like it will be the crux of the narrative, so hopefully the film delivers on that front and makes audiences care about the dynamic.
Obviously, the biggest selling point for a John Wick film is the opportunity to see Keanu Reeves mow through bad guys, and following the innovative "gun-fu" set pieces in the first movie, expectations are going to be sky high for Chapter 2. Stahelski has mentioned that the sequel has "twice as much action" when compared to the original, so fans should be in for a treat. The John Wick team knows how to craft slick sequences, and Reeves' constant commitment to doing his own stunts should lead to excellent results.
As the old saying goes, a story is only as good as its villains, and Chapter 2 has some talented performers to serve as foils for Reeves (including Rose, Common, and Scamarcio). Not much has been seen of John's adversaries as of now, but the antagonists of Chapter 2 certainly look like they will be menacing and worthy opponents for the Baba Yaga. In particular, Rose's Ares sports an expression of steely determination, sending a clear message that she is not to be trifled with. Since there's already talk about a John Wick 3, chances are things don't end well for these evildoers, but ideally they will go down in a blaze of glory.
John Wick: Chapter 2 opens in U.S. theaters on February 10, 2017.