Director Chad Stahelski on ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ and the Curse of the Sequel
The much-anticipated follow-up to Keanu Reeves’ action-packed John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2 has some big shoes to fill. The first John Wick was a welcome surprise: an action-thriller with some masterful stuntwork and gun handling directed by an actual stuntman, about a former assassin who goes on a killing rampage to avenge his dog was a delicious stew of an action movie. The sequel picks up just a short time after the first leaves off, and we see Wick heading to Rome and ready to take out some more bad guys. Although sequels are always chancy prospects, director Chad Stahelski is optimistic about the next chapter living up to the first.
Speaking with Collider, Stahelski talked a bit about how he handled the concept of making a sequel, and how different it is from the original. He said he took an Aliens approach to making it, taking the good parts of the first and building on that while creating something new. When asked whether he was nervous about making a sequel, Stahelski said:
I asked the same thing when I was with the Wachowskis. We’re so excited we go back to San Francisco to prep and set the stages and one night we’re all sitting around having and a drink and we’re all saying, ‘This is gonna be great! This is gonna be great!’ both of them sour. I was like, ‘Why what’s up isn’t this the best thing ever?’ They were like, ‘Well it’s kind of the curse of the sequel.’ The reason people love you so much sometimes is because you’re original. John Wick was an original twist on a classic tale, with a fancier look and a different way of telling the story. More like a Greek myth rather than your typical action movie. So you give away your whole hand with that, you give away originality. So how do you compete with yourself? And it’s gonna be hard. Some of the things I’ve done in scenes and shit has been awesome. Having 20 years as a stunt man nothing’s more terrifying than comparing yourself against yourself.
Comparing yourself to Marvel, compare yourself to DC, compare yourself to anything to be the expectation sometimes it’s almost an analysis for affinity. We decided to stop competing with the first one. Once we stopped worrying about ourselves it was fun. I mean is it as good as the first one? I don’t know. Did we go better in some ways? Yes. Did we experiment with the characters more? Yes. Everything there is better. Is the enjoyment better? I think the enjoyment is there, but it’s different. All the other director friends I have don’t like doing sequels or don’t like doing other people’s sequels, which is even worse I think. But then there’s other examples. I think the best example is Ridley Scott. He did the first Alien. James Cameron created Aliens. Cameron, I think think is a genius for that. Going, ‘I’m not making the same Aliens again, I’m just gonna make it.’ If I could be so bold as to take that similarity then so be it.
Instead of calling it John Wick 2, Stahelski opted for the “Chapter 2” subtitle, which gives the whole movie a different feel. It’s not a sequel so much as it is a continuation, a variation on a theme.
It was a completely conscious decision. That’s why we named it Chapter 2. It was a like a chapter in a book. Where, if you pick up a book, you don’t have to read the beginning, you can just jump into a chapter.
John Wick: Chapter 2 hits theaters February 10, 2017.