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Keanu Reeves Delivers More Gun Fu in John Wick: Chapter 2

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With riveting action sequences and unparalleled stunt work, it’s safe to say that nobody really saw John Wick coming. Back in 2014, John Wick was something of a sleeper in terms of action movies. The prospect of seeing a gun-toting Keanu Reeves on screen sounded promising, but many were wary of the outcome. It seemed like everyone decided to keep their expectations decidedly low, afraid of becoming disappointed. Although not many knew what to expect, the action-packed film ended up being an unexpected surprise. At the time, Reeves seemed to be drawn towards more traditional martial arts films, especially with his roles as Kai in 47 Ronin and Donaka Mark in Man of Tai Chi in 2013. However, John Wick flipped the script in many ways, igniting some much-needed fire into the martial arts and action genres.

With a simple premise—a furious mission to extract revenge, the film ended up packing a powerful punch. Instead of relying on overused Hollywood stereotypes, John Wick decidedly poked fun at them. While one of the most heartbreaking scenes in John Wick involved a doe-eyed puppy, the film ultimately showed viewers that an adrenaline-driven action film could be complex and layered. Laden with tragedy, Keanu Reeves delivered a poignant performance as John Wick in the original film. Having suffered through a similar experiences in his own life, including the loss of his wife and unborn child, there’s a visceral palpability that Keanu Reeves imparts onto the role. When the film credits rolled at the end of John Wick, fans had their fingers crossed that they’d see more of John soon, leaving them wanting more. Unlike other over-the-top action flicks, John Wick didn’t rely heavily on other tropes that we are so used to seeing, making it a refreshing addition to the action genre. While rumors circulated about a possible new installment, fans of the first film simply couldn’t wait for a sequel.

On February 10th, John Wick fans were finally granted their wish. According to Box Office Mojo, John Wick 2 has earned a domestic total of $61 million, a sum that's already surpassed the original John Wick film in 2014. The first flick earned a domestic total of $43 million, by comparison, while Chapter 2 has earned nearly $20 million more than that in a mere ten days. What does this mean for the Lionsgate and Summit production? Well, fans will be delighted to hear there have already been rumors circulating about a third film on the horizon.

John Wick: Chapter 2 takes place five days after the conclusion of the first film. Keanu Reeves reprises his titular role as John Wick, with the intent on keeping his life as simple and quiet as possible. When a former associate turns up on his doorstep, it looks like Wick’s retirement plans may be coming to a swift end. John must face the consequences of his past, including a blood oath he had taken with an Italian mobster named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). Although he initially rejects the idea of returning back to his former way of life, Wick is reminded about the ramifications about ignoring rules upheld by the ancient assassin society. In Chapter Two, John heads to Rome, where he’s tasked to kill Santino’s sister, Gianna D'Antonio (Claudia Gerini). With Gianna out of the picture, Santino plots to attain a coveted seat on the mysterious ancient council. When in Rome, Wick undoubtedly does as assassins do, complete with getting a set of new threads and embarking in a “tasting” of sleek guns and weaponry.

While we won’t venture into heavy spoiler territory, the film also reunited Keanu Reeves with a familiar face—Lawrence Fishburne. Seeing the pair together on screen again gives off some serious nostalgic vibes (and might make you want to rewatch The Matrix for the millionth time). Australian model and actress Ruby Rose also makes an appearance as Santino’s right-hand woman, Ares. Rose is no stranger to physical roles, having recently starred in the likes of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Hip hop artist Common stars as Cassian, a fellow assassin who shares some serious screen time with Wick in Chapter Two. Overall, the film is poetic in terms of action, offering a balance between moments of solitude and heart-pounding action sequences. Most action sequels aim too high, and things end up getting out of hand, making the movie fall flat. With a clean, uncluttered aesthetic, that’s certainly not the case with John Wick 2.

John Wick uses a style known as gun fu, combining elements from various martial arts and tactical combatives to create the serious action found in the film. In a featurette leading up to the film, director Chad Stahelski said, “We take Japanese jujitsu, Brazilian jujitsu, tactical three gun, and standing judo, put it all together, and we come up with what we call ‘gun fu’.” In John Wick: Chapter 2, there’s more than one reference to the legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee, and some of his stand out work. Just look at the final action sequences at the metropolitan art museum, surrounded by a hallway of mirrors—all paying homage to the martial arts classic, Enter the Dragon from 1973.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, both films showcase Stahelski’s extensive background as a martial artist and a stuntman. Stahelski is most known for having doubled as Brandon Lee after his tragic accident on the set of The Crow, and also acting as Keanu Reeves’ stunt double as Neo in The Matrix. For decades, Stahelski has been putting in stunt work for titles like Iron Man 2, Serenity and 300. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Chad Stahleski is set to direct the upcoming Highlander reboot.

If you’ve been curious about exactly how many people fell victim to John Wick’s tale of revenge, Australian designer George Hatzis created two infographics about the statistics. Each infographic breaks down the kill count, one from the original film, and another from the second chapter. In John Wick, Hatzis accounts for each of John's shots taken, including headshots and shot accuracy. The designer created a simple graphic and detailed the body count for each scene in the film. Amusingly enough, the data is summarized as, "So, how many people did John Wick kill? 77. Never kill a man's dog." In John Wick 2, Keanu Reeves ups the ante on things, delivering with nearly double that sum with a total of 128 total kills. With a minimalist design, both infographics are equally stunning, and worth checking out.

Written by Jade Nicolette

Twitter: @nicolette_style

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