There's an element of what-you-see-is-what-you-get honesty in action films: Explosions? Check. Guns? Check. Impossible car chases? Check. Impossibly skilled and indestructible protagonist? Check. Undeniably, these aspects are a huge part of the genre's charm, yet John Wick (2014) went one better by adding a cute dog named Daisy and a heartbreaking backstory to the usual troupes.
Keanu Reeves's portrayal of the titular hitman — who is drawn back into the world of contract killing due to an unfortunate puppy-killing incident — provided the nucleus of one of the finest and most enjoyable action films in recent years. Its sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2, will hope to live up to the standards of the first, as Wick again returns to the criminal underworld, this time travelling to Rome to take on some of the world's deadliest killers.
Among the breathtaking Roman architecture, the basilicas, the temples and the ancient ruins, Wick will be bound by The Continental's code of honor, tasked with the murder of the sister of Italian gangster Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scarmarcio), a leading crime boss named Gianna (Claudia Gerini).
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Before a single bullet casing drops to the floor, there are already rumors that John Wick 2 will get a sequel. But what are the odds? Well, director Chad Stahelski has already explained that a third instalment, although not officially given the go ahead, is being considered by the studio. In an interview with Collider, he said:
"The studio has asked us to put our heads together and see if we can come up with something. Winston’s [McShane] is a big part of the next one, so is Lance Reddick. We’ve got some ideas."
How The Continental Can Lead To A 'John Wick 2' Sequel
The increased involvement of Ian McShane and Lance Reddick suggests a more in-depth look at colorful and enigmatic league of extraordinary assassins, known as the Continental. The group is led by Winston (McShane), the owner of an extravagant hotel that acts as kind of Hogwarts for hitmen, where Charon (Reddick) works as a concierge.
The quirkiness of the establishment and its heteroclite sense of community is one of the defining attributes of John Wick. Here, although a strict set of rules apply (no killing on the premises, for example) the hotel provides all the amenities a killer could wish for: A doctor on standby to heal wounds, their own bespoke golden currency, and a bar where assassins from all backgrounds can mingle without the fear of becoming prey themselves.
Within the walls of Winston's hotel are a never-ending stream of interesting characters, including the likes of badass, hyper-violent Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) and fellow skilled assassin Marcus (Willem Dafoe). Even those with smaller roles, such as Harry (The Wire's Clarke Peters) help flesh out the character rich landscape.
Although #JohnWick was the catalyst that drove the action forward — a crucial element for providing enough heart to fully support the relentless, brutal slaying of henchmen — the film's vibrant world of hitmen feels so full of life. The intricate depiction of the criminal underground is full idiosyncrasies (such as Wick "making a dinner reservation for 12" as code to hire a "special" waste disposal company — the speciality: human corpses) and ripe for exploration.
Is 'John Wick' The Beginning Of An Expansive Action Franchise?
If #JohnWick2 can keep the high standard of stylish, impressively choreographed action, while also expanding on mythology of The Continental, a sequel will be a certainty. It's even possible that the franchise could go further than John Wick 3, as long as it's able to inject a neo-noir boost into the action genre.
While #KeanuReeves's portrayal of Wick is the driving force, the underground community of assassins contains a rich number characters, all whom could take the franchise in a different direction and steal the highlight from Wick. After all, every dog has its day.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is released on February 16, 2017.
Does John Wick have the potential to spawn an entire franchise, focusing on The Continental?