A surprise hit in 2014, John Wick struck a chord with audiences who yearned to see Keanu Reeves return to full-blown action mode. Earning cult status for its hyper-kinetic take on classic martial arts and gunplay, the film’s global success presented the producers with an inevitable question: What to do for an encore? For Reeves, the answer was clear: more action, a bigger scope and a deeper dive into the title character’s internal struggle.
“In the second film,” says Reeves, “we wanted to expand the underworld, so we’ve introduced a new element. In the original we had the assassins guild known as The Continental, now we have added an association called the High Table, where all of the different organized crime groups from around the world have a seat.”
Producers took pains to stay away from an obvious regurgitation of the first movie’s premise.
“We didn’t want to do some generic thing and go back to the same emotional well,” says producer Basil Iwanyk. “At the same time, we needed to satisfy both male and female fans, as well as audience members who don’t usually watch action movies, by giving them all an emotional way into this movie without repeating ourselves.”
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 was written by Derek Kolstad, who burst on the scene with the original John Wick, his first produced spec screenplay. “When Keanu signed on to play John Wick, it was literally a dream come true,” says the Wisconsin native, who named the title character after his grandfather.
“That the film was such a success and we’ve now made a sequel is even more unbelievable.”