Never ever mess with a man’s muscle car. Or his beloved puppy given to him by his dying wife as a final gift before she shuffled off this mortal coil. Especially when said man happens to be a legendary underworld assassin whose reputation stood head and shoulders above an entire secret society of hired guns and killers.
The very first John Wick movie wasn’t just a fresh action spectacle that combined bullet ballet with brutally efficient hand to hand combat, but also a film that hinted at a larger world that the aforementioned Mr Wick had tried to stay away from. Back in the game with a sequel that takes place pretty much immediately after Wick had managed to introduce his local Eastern-European gangs to an extinction event, John Wick 2 is going to have to deal with a very hungry fan-base.
And according to the film’s co-director Chad Stahelski (who started his career as a stunt coordinator), the biggest challenge facing John Wick 2 isn’t finding a fresh supply of cannon fodder, but rather the curse of the sequel. “Keanu [Reeves] and I met on the first Matrix which was a pretty special experience even by the best of Hollywood standards. The Wachowskis [Lana and Lily] were right in between us age wise so we were all about in the three year mark of age. It was a huge learning experience in term of being exposed to that level of creativity and genius,” Stahelski said to Collider.
When we got back, we all knew that that was going to be something special. It wasn’t until a year later when I really realized everyone thought it was a big deal. We couldn’t have been happier. Like my contract runs for three years – 6 months of prep, for two years of filming two and three back-to-back and having training.
Point being is, I asked the same thing when I was with the Wachowskis. We’re so excited we go back to San Francisco to prep and set the stages and one night we’re all sitting around having and a drink and we’re all saying, “This is gonna be great! This is gonna be great!” both of them sour. I was like, “Why what’s up isn’t this the best thing ever?” They were like, “Well it’s kind of the curse of the sequel.”
The reason people love you so much sometimes is because you’re original. John Wick was an original twist on a classic tale, with a fancier look and a different way of telling the story. More like a Greek myth rather than your typical action movie. So you give away your whole hand with that, you give away originality. So how do you compete with yourself? And it’s gonna be hard. Some of the things I’ve done in scenes and shit has been awesome. Having 20 years as a stunt man nothing’s more terrifying than comparing yourself against yourself.
The solution? A film that was inspired more by James Cameron’s approach to the Alien franchise with Aliens, a sequel that very much went in a different direction to Ridley Scott’s first Alien movie. “Comparing yourself to Marvel, compare yourself to DC, compare yourself to anything to be the expectation sometimes it’s almost an analysis for affinity,” Stahelski explained.
We decided to stop competing with the first one. Once we stopped worrying about ourselves it was fun. I mean is it as good as the first one? I don’t know. Did we go better in some ways? Yes. Did we experiment with the characters more? Yes. Everything there is better. Is the enjoyment better? I think the enjoyment is there, but it’s different. All the other director friends I have don’t like doing sequels or don’t like doing other people’s sequels, which is even worse I think.
But then there’s other examples. I think the best example is Ridley Scott. He did the first Alien. James Cameron created Aliens. Cameron, I think think is a genius for that. Going, “I’m not making the same Aliens again, I’m just gonna make it.” If I could be so bold as to take that similarity then so be it.
As much fun as it was to see some absolute scumbags fall victim to John Wick’s righteous anger, it was the actual execution of those moments that made the first film more memorable. Will John Wick 2 turn that action up to 11 and just run with it? I bloody well hope so. John Wick 2 drops next year February. And believe me buddy, it was more than just a dog to the Wicked one.
Last Updated: October 24, 2016