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Between powerful punches, the sequel delves into the deadly ancient workings in the world of Wick
Photos: Golden Village
After unleashing mayhem on the mobsters that nicked his beloved 1969 Mustang and killed his pup (RIP), all retired assassin John Wick (reprised by Keanu Reeves) wants is to slide back into a peaceful life away from crime.
Alas, the world has a bone to pick with Wick. In John Wick: Chapter 2, old ghosts return to haunt him when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up with a gold “marker”, a summon that drags Wick back into the clutches of secret assassin society The Continental.
But, as he finds out, there is no honour amongst assassins. Armed with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, glocks and even the notoriously rumoured pencil, Wick fights against the assassin’s code — but can he preserve his own humanity?
Building the world of Wick
A surprise hit in 2014, John Wick revived actor Keanu Reeves’ presence in the action genre with supercharged martial arts and choreographed gunplay. But what further fascinated audiences was its depiction of The Continental, a centuries-old secret society of assassins ruled by an unforgiving code.
And this deadly life isn’t done with Wick. An irrevocable debt arrives in the form of D’Antonio, a devious psychopath who cashes in an unsavoury favour.
Reeve explains, “According to the rules, if the bearer of the marker comes to you and wants to cash it in and you don’t do what they want, you die. If you kill the bearer of your marker, you die. So John has a problem.”
The master assassin is brought back into the fray, but a wholly different side to The Continental opens up in Chapter 2. “In the second film,” describes Reeves, “We wanted to expand the underworld, so we’ve introduced a new element. We have added an association called the High Table, where all of the different organised crime groups from around the world have a seat.”
Furthermore, the environments built up in the film influence the fighting and stunt choreography. Reeves enthuses, “There’s the mirror room, the subway fight and the catacombs — they all have different styles, looks, sounds and design, so some of the action [in those scenes was choreographed] on the day.”
Reeves revs it up
Like in the 1999 classic The Matrix, Reeves has fast become an indelible embodiment of his character. Said producer Erica Lee, “[Keanu] embodies John Wick [and] has been a huge voice in the process from day one. I spent many Sundays at Keanu’s house, six hours at a time, talking about the script.”
So enmeshed with the character is Reeves that his high level of involvement extended into intense physical training, which is evident in the amped-up action in John Wick 2. Jokingly referring to his schedule as the “John Wick Training Centre and Camp”, Reeves recalls advancing into “more sophisticated jiujitsu” techniques for the sequel.
Lee adds, “He’s extremely hard on himself. Keanu works very hard to get it right. The way Keanu plays him, John Wick generates enormous empathy and we wanted to make sure the journey in our sequel kept audiences rooting for him.”
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 [M18]
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laurence Fishburne & Ian McShane
Genre: Action, Thriller
Run length: 122 min
Release: 16 Feb