Keanu Reeves’ action thriller John Wick was one of 2014’s most pleasant cinematic surprises. Unflinching in its execution of violence, the movie had a brutal edge juxtaposed with a simple, yet affecting story that made audiences constantly root for Keanu’s retired assassin in what was undoubtedly one of the actor’s best films (this side of The Matrix). Given John Wick‘s commercial and critical success, a sequel was unsurprisingly green-lit in the form of John Wick: Chapter Two.
Slated for a February 2017 release, the sequel is currently in the post-production stage and joining the cast will be Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix trilogy, Man Of Steel) and Oscar-winning musician/actor Common, among others. An official synopsis for the movie explains that thanks to a blood oath, John Wick is forced to help a former colleague who plots to take down a shadowy organization – and the sequel will see the action spread to Europe, in particular, Rome.
Although story and character details for John Wick: Chapter Two are still emerging slowly, the movie’s official Twitter account has released an new image which confirms both the movie’s presence at NYCC in October and the return of a much-loved figure from the first film.
Fans of John Wick will, of course, remember the harrowing scene near the beginning of the movie where a group Russian gang members break into John’s home and kill the puppy that was given to him as a present by his late wife as a means of coping with her death. A bevy of blood, bullets and character development later, the movie’s final scenes see John rescuing another young pup due to be put down.
Happily, the new image confirms that John’s new pet has survived the interim period between movies, although whether the mutt will live to see the end credits roll is not yet guaranteed. Other than the returning dog, the other point of interest in the image is that Mr. Wick looks a bit worse for wear here. Assuming he hasn’t just returned from fixing up a stranger’s car, it seems as if the quiet life John craves is still eluding him and given his battered appearance and the presence of his dog, the protagonist perhaps could be on the run from some kind of unseen threat.
As well as the returning Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter Two will also feature other familiar characters such as Ian McShane’s hotel owner Winston, Charon the concierge (Lance Reddick) and ‘cleaner’ Charlie (David Patrick Kelly). More importantly for the sequel’s success however, is that both the original director and writer, Chad Stahelski and Derek Kolstad respectively, are returning, with the former promising twice as much action this time around.
Although the sequel’s premise may seem simplistic, an uncluttered and basic plot is part of what made the original film such a thrilling ride. Of course John Wick: Chapter Two can’t afford to rigidly stick to the formula of its predecessor and will need to bring fresh ingredients to the table – but the original John Wick succeeded because it knew exactly what its strengths were and made the most of them. If Chapter Two can do the same, Lionsgate may indeed have a hot franchise on their hands, as desired. Just don’t kill the dog again.
John Wick: Chapter Two is out in U.S. theaters on February 10th 2017.