Those That Came Before: John Wick: Chapter 2
May has become a huge month for the summer release schedule, and this year is no different. This month alone we have the release of several highly anticipated sequels as well as another live-action adaptation from Disney. With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of the movies that are setting the stage for these new releases. This weekend will see the release of John Wick: Chapter 3, so we’ll be starting with a look back at the film that is setting the stage for this third chapter.
John Wick is an action franchise that has been commercially and critically well received. The first film premiered in 2014 with the sequel arriving in theaters in 2017. Created by Derek Kolstad and directed by Chad Stahelski, the film franchise draws a lot of inspiration from anime and martial arts films. The franchise focuses on a deadly hitman, John Wick, that returns to his former life when circumstances cause him to seek out vengeance. Of course, it stars Keanu Reeves in the titular role, and Ian McShane appears in every film as Winston, the owner of The Continental Hotel.
What Works in These Films?
Our Lead Character
John Wick is an interesting character to say the least. His backstory is intriguing, showcasing a man that successfully left the world of killing behind to marry a woman he loved. The way he is yanked back into that world in the middle of his grief sets up the first movie, and John Wick: Chapter 2 only expands upon that. The question keeps arising in the second film as to whether Wick can maintain a peaceful life after all he has done. He is pushed to the limit, and the way his character reacts and copes only further endears him to the audience. It’s also just interesting to have such a mild-mannered, unassuming character participate and excel in such a violent profession.
The Rules of the World
Perhaps just as intriguing as the main character himself is the world in which he operates. It’s not just senseless gun fights; there are rules and codes of honor to maintain. The whole system The Continental Hotel sets up is fascinating and creates order out of what could be chaos. There’s no killing on their grounds, and there’s a level of professionalism that must be maintained among its members. The first movie might set it up, but John Wick: Chapter 2 deftly incorporates more of the lore surrounding this world. The background of his impossible task is further revealed, and we are introduced to the binding nature of the marker.
The Action Sequences
The John Wick franchise has a specific style, which is particularly obvious in their action sequences. I think we can all agree that sometimes action sequences clip along at such a pace that it is hard to see what is happening. This has never been an issue in John Wick. For a movie that utilizes a lot of physicality in addition to the typical gun fights, Wick and whoever he is facing are always able to be clearly seen. These action sequences are a herald of the franchise as a whole, and the fight choreography improved even more in John Wick: Chapter 2.
Heralds of the Franchise
Fighting Styles/Action Sequences
As we mentioned above, the way that action sequences are executed in these films make them a highlight of the franchise. The martial arts influences and the clearly executed gun fights keep the audience involved in every story beat, and Keanu Reeves (and his stunt double) is a joy to watch in these moments.
We’ve already mentioned that John Wick is a fascinating and ironic character, but the truth is that all of the supporting characters in this franchise are intriguing. Winston is certainly an enigmatic character who has a system that must be upheld but also clearly has a fondness for Wick. Laurence Fishburne’s character has a complicated backstory with Wick but still finds it in himself to help him. Every hitman we encounter seems to have an interesting backstory of their own, even if we only get hints of it on screen. Even Thomas Sadoski’s small appearance adds a layer to Wick and the relationships he maintains.
What can we expect in John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum?
-John Wick on the run after being declared excommunicado
-More supporting characters who spark our interest
-More killer action sequences
-Hopefully an appearance from Wick’s current dog
-A possible scenario where Winston has to help Wick again
So, are you a fan of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2? Are you looking forward to the third film in the franchise? Comment and let us know!
Also, stay tuned next week as we revisit another film that came before a major May theatrical release.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.