The jubilant cast of the upcoming sequel looked back on past films, the mythology of John Wick and knowing how to dodge a punch.
Action films never seem to live up to the expectations that they once had during the heyday of the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Bruce Willis and so many more were the icons of masculinity. They indiscriminately doled out gleefully excessive acts of violence upon everyone and anyone who stood in their way. It seemed as though all the movies of that time, no matter how bad or laugh-out-loud ridiculous they were, had a strange hyper self-awareness. The acts of machismo, the brutality, the endless stream of puns–all of it contributed to the outrageous fun of the action genre.
Fast forward a decade or two and action films have taken a real haymaker to their quality. Few of them have the same sort of melodramatic charm that yesteryear’s action movies once standardized. Instead, they are pedantic, unoriginal and somehow require budgets that could fund a small militia. But thankfully, we have John Wick to rescue us. On top of the brilliant lore, precise choreography and exciting narrative, the film only needed a modest of 20 million dollars, a sum that pales in comparison to the Michael Bay-esque action films of today. And to gross more than four times that amount is incredible to say the least, so it seemed to be a no-brainer to produce a sequel.
We sat down with the cast and director to discuss the upcoming film, how Laurence Fishburne came into the fold, the expanding lore of the films and what to expect.
The Matrix: Revisited
One of the most interesting and perhaps most entertaining aspects of the new upcoming sequel, is the reunion of Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves. The two had famously starred together in the blowout critical and commercial hit “The Matrix,” developing a stellar mentor-mentee relationship on- and off-screen. Fans of the duo will be happy to hear that the upcoming John Wick sequel will have the two gracing the silver screen together yet again. But this time, it seems that the relationship might be a little more treacherous.
Fishburne and director Chad Stahelski discussed how the actor became involved in the project. “You came up to the house and you were training for John Wick 2. All I could say was, ‘dude, John Wick was sick! It was killer! You have to put me down!'” screamed the esteemed actor. In a third-person perspective, the director replied, “and then Chad [Stahelski] jumped on it. Chad wasted no time getting back to Mr. Fishburne. Immediate response– I was begging.”
New Elements to the Sequel
When asked about some of the new aspects of the sequel, Stahelski looked at Reeves and politely said, “After you.” Reeves looked back in bewilderment and jokingly replied “You’re the director man!” It seems the two have a strong friendship that translates well to their professional collaborations. The original film showcased that relationship which manifested itself in a great rapport between director and actor, with one leaning on the other for input and advice.
“It’s always a challenge to do something original or to build on something established” started the humble director. “I think what everyone had affection for after the first film was the world-building we had done. The underworld of assassins and the Continental mythology that we had built up was something that we wanted to expand on in the sequel” continued Stahelski. Reeves chimed in to add that “that’s why the Bowery King as Laurence [Fishburne] and Common open-up the world of the assassins.” Indeed, the mythology of the first film is perhaps the most salient aspect so to have Stahelski realize that and go forward is surely a relief to many fans.
Keanu Reeves: The Master of Movie Kung-Fu
Asked about his dedication and knowledge of all of the fighting styles that he has seemingly mastered in his many action films, Reeves replied “I do movie kung-fu” to roarous laughter. The action guru went on to admit that he “doesn’t know any real jiu-jitsu or judo or anything.”
“You can fake a punch, but you can’t really fake a judo throw. You can get help from the person you are throwing because they can sort of launch themselves–thank you Common” explained Reeves. Common added that “as far as I’m concerned, in the real-world [Reeves] can kick ass. He just has it. I know we’re doing it for the film, but you can feel the strength and some of that doesn’t feel like film work. When this dude is throwing this blow, you better be ready to move cause it’s going to connect.”
If the past film and the cast’s excitement about the new film is any indication, then it seems that fans of John Wick will not be disappointed by the upcoming sequel.
Check John Wick 2 out February 10 when it hits theaters.