Ahead of Chapter Two, here’s our A-Z of the world of John Wick.
John Wick: Chapter 2 arrives in UK cinemas on February 17th 2017. The film is a sequel to 2014’s John Wick, the film that re-established Keanu Reeves as an A-List action star. The story told of a retired hit-man who found himself back in the seedy criminal world after his beloved dog, a gift from his deceased wife, was murdered. The film is all kinds of brilliant, perfectly blending various elements to create a real-life graphic novel.
But in case you’re a little rusty on the world of Wick we’ve compiled this handy A – Z guide.
A is for Assassins
For those not acquainted with the world of John Wick, it’s all about the underworld of hit-men and hit-women. The most decorated of these is John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a hit-man who managed to gain his freedom by completing an ‘impossible’ task. This task involved taking out all the enemies of his boss, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), in one night. Like a blood-thirsty Santa Claus, Wick completed his task and has spent the last few years in retirement.
B is for Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga is the nickname bestowed on John Wick by his former boss Viggo. Described by Viggo as an entity more fearsome than the bogeyman; he in fact goes so far as to say that John would be the thing that you send to kill the bogeyman. Baba Yaga is an actual creature of Slavic folklore, though the reality is slightly different to that discussed in John Wick. The lore specifies that Baba Yaga is actually a ferocious female.
C is for Continental
The Continental is a very swanky hotel with a very exclusive clientele – assassins. The hotel offers assassins a place to rest their heads after a tiring day of murder, as well as a wide range of services, including a doctor (to stitch up those nicks), laundry (though they struggle with some blood stains) and an interesting take on room service. Even better, the hotel comes with strict rules, turning the venue into the Switzerland of the underworld, a neutral territory. No hits can occur on site, making it a perfect safe house. It even has its own speakeasy-style bar located through the kitchen.
D is for Daisy
Daisy was a lovely young beagle, a present to John from his dead wife Helen. Helen had a terminal illness, and not wishing John to be lonely after her death, arranged for Daisy to be delivered on the day of her funeral. John was instantly smitten with Daisy and cherished her as she was a connection to his deceased wife. Sadly though, after having a run-in at a gas station with Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), Daisy wasn’t long for this world. Iosef and his henchmen broke into John’s house to steal his car, but after John interfered, they smacked him around and then murdered poor innocent Daisy. Daisy’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back and John came out of retirement to teach Iosef a lesson.
E is for Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria may be better known as playing Gabby in Desperate Housewives, but she’s also turned herself to movie producing, John Wick being her most successful venture to date. She didn’t even want to star in the film, she was simply happy to help bring it into the world.
F is for Fury
The one thing that everyone should know about John Wick is that you don’t set him off. Unfortunately no one told young Iosef Tasarov this, whom meets his maker as a result of this. John’s fury looks set to return as he’s still hungry for blood in John Wick: Chapter Two. But just who re-lit the wick?
G is for Gun Fu
Whilst as Thomas ‘Neo’ Anderson Keanu Reeves may have known Kung-Fu, in John Wick it’s all about the Gun-Fu, a seamless blend of martial arts and marksmanship. The preferred fighting method of John Wick, with Gun-Fu Wick dispatches his enemies by flowing from kicks and punches to shooting. The result is 100% deadly.
H is for Head Shots
If we had to devise a list of who we’d want beside us during a zombie apocalypse, John Wick would definitely be towards the top. You see the only way to kill a zombie, according to most lore, is with a shot to the head. It just so happens that that is John’s preferred killing method. The most elite and effective of killers, John always finishes his foes with a double tap to the cranium. Luckily for John, none of his fellow assassins utilise the same tactic.
I is for Ian McShane
Ian McShane, better known to UK audiences as antiques dealer Lovejoy, plays Winston, the owner of the New York Continental. Winston is an old friend of John’s and whilst his establishment is neutral territory, he seems to have a soft spot for John. He’s a stickler for the rules though, something that Ms. Perkins learns all too well. McShane is one of several cast members from the first film to return for John Wick: Chapter Two. Let’s hope that John stays on Winston’s good side, he could use all the allies he can get.
J is for John Wick
John Wick is many things, a man, a myth, a legend. The ultimate assassin, John Wick retired at the peak of his career. He was seen as a formidable foe to all, his reputation proceeding him. However, after leaving the scene he became a story and the younger generation didn’t believe he was real. Young Iosef Tarasov found out the hard way that John Wick was much more than a story. After destroying the Tarasov clan one could be forgiven for thinking that John could go back into retirement. However, given that John Wick: Chapter Two is released imminently, that’s not likely.
K is for Kill Count
John Wick is a movie that has a high kill count. It’s so high in fact that no one can seem to agree on it, the internet reporting anywhere from 77 – 114. Keanu Reeves believes that the number of kills that John is responsible for is 84. Now we can’t say for sure how many deaths occur during John Wick, but there are a Hell of a lot of them, in case you’ve forgotten just how many, give the below video a whirl. The only thing we can be certain of is that John Wick: Chapter Two will have an even bigger death toll. Clearly not a good time to be a bad guy…
L is for Laurence Fishburne
John Wick brought Keanu Reeves back together with his The Matrix stunt team David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, as well as actor Daniel Bernhardt. The duo co-directed the film and are both involved in the sequel (Stahelski directs whilst Leitch produces). This time they’ve gone one step further in their Matrix reunion as Laurence Fishburne also stars. Fishburne approached Reeves at a party and expressed his adoration for John Wick and cheekily asked whether there was a spot for him in the sequel. Reeves then went back to the production team and a character was created especially for him. The character in question is The Bowery King. Now the Bowery is a location in Southern Manhattan and it would seem likely that Fishburne is running some sort of assassin assistance from that area. One thing we do know, it’ll be pretty cool seeing Neo and Morpheus together again.
M is for Mirrors
The absolute highlight of John Wick was that epic video game level action sequence within The Red Circle. After intelligence pointed to Wick’s target Iosef hiding out in a privileged nightclub fortress, he descended upon the venue and unleashed his inner demon. We haven’t seen a nightclub bloodbath that iconic since Schwarzenegger went looking for Linda Hamilton at the Tech Noir. It’s a visually stunning set-piece complete with some jaw-dropping Gun-Fu moves, yet John Wick: Chapter Two might very well have topped it with the aid of a hall of mirrors. Within the trailer we glimpse Wick chasing fellow assassin Ares (Ruby Rose) through a reflective maze.
N is for New York
New York was the home of John Wick‘s action. Technically it was more underworld New York, but the city definitely made her presence known. Second time around the action moves to Rome as John Wick starts a rampage in Europe. Expect catacombs, art galleries, museums and much more.
O is for Origins
The story of John Wick is a sad one. A widowed husband’s last gift from his wife is brutally murdered in front of him. Unable to cope, he unleashes his grief at those responsible. We’ve seen the film far too many times and we still tear up when poor Daisy goes and have often wondered who, outside of Disney, would be cruel enough to kill off an innocent dog. The truth is that it was in part inspired by real life events. Marcus Luttrell, the subject of Peter Berg‘s Lone Survivor, was gifted a dog called DASY (named after members of his deceased fire-team). Sadly one night in 2009 he was awoken in the night by a gunshot and he saw four men driving away. Upon investigation he discovered DASY dead in his yard, having been shot. He did what any ex-Navy SEAL might and armed himself with guns and chased them until the police were able to apprehend them. They were later sentenced for animal cruelty.
P is for Pencil
Whilst guns may be John’s weapon of choice, he’s handy with pretty much anything. When introducing the legacy of Wick to his son Iosef, Viggo shares that he once saw John Wick kill three men with a pencil. Three men, one pencil. That’d be one Hell of a You Tube video… The mighty pencil makes a return in John Wick: Chapter 2 and it’s not pretty.
Q is for Quirky Subtitles
Don’t you just hate it when you’re watching an action movie and suddenly there are subtitles. All action seems to stop and you have to read all those words at the bottom of the screen, completely taking you out of the movie. John Wick offered a fantastically stylish way to use the subtitles. These subtitles move around the screen, slotting in around the action, meaning you don’t miss a thing. They also appear in various colours with key words highlighted so they really sink in.
R is for Ruby Rose
Don’t let the word ‘hitman’ deceive you, there are plenty of female ‘hitwomen’. The world of John Wick does not discriminate when it comes to the sex of an assassin. In fact, within the John Wick universe, the female of the species is often more deadly than the male. Miss Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) was clearly the most cunning and career focused in John Wick. Unfortunately, she broke Continental rules and was taken care of, courtesy of Winston. John Wick: Chapter Two introduces a new fatal female, this time in the form of Orange is the New Black and XXX: Return of Xander Cage star, Ruby Rose. Rose joins the project as Ares, one of John’s many adversaries, who is described as a female John Wick. Interestingly Ares is mute, with Rose delivering her lines via sign language.
S is for Subway Smackdown
Another sequence from John Wick: Chapter Two looking to steal the thunder of The Red Circle, will take place underground on a subway car. Here John will do battle with frenemy Cassian, played by Common. The two giants will go toe-to-toe with knives, and we’ve been promised the scene is huge in scale. Keanu has a pretty good track record with train duels thus far, let’s just hope no one loses their head. Well if they do, let’s hope it isn’t John.
T is for Tailoring
If you’re going to go into war in New York or Rome you have to look your best. Both cities are renowned for their fashion institutions and its inhabitants dress to impress. This mantra filters right down into the world of John Wick. Everyone is impeccably dressed and those suits come with some hidden advantages. In John Wick: Chapter Two John visits his tailor and has some special tactical extras added.
U is for Underworld Currency
John Wick introduced us to a world underneath our own, an underworld. The rules are different here, they even have their own currency. The currency in question is gold coins, these can be used to pay for everything and anything that a professional hit-person could want. For the price of a gold coin (per body) you can get the ‘cleaners’ to come around and clear-up any victims. The cleaners are a team of professional crime scene erasers. They will remove all trace of blood, body and DNA. They’ll also replace broken windows and furniture for you. To book the team you simply pick up the phone and make a ‘dinner reservation’ for however many bodies you have.
V is for Visual Flair
One of a multitude of reasons, why John Wick was so well received has to be its visual style. Both films are shot as if a graphic novel has come to life. Along with the quirky subtitles, stylish costumes and frenetic action, are a whole heap of neon lights and pretty filters. Each scene is bathed in a different colour, hues of red, blue and green being the most prominent. All elements compliment each other beautifully, and perfectly create this fantasy world. A viewing delight for graphic novel fans and gamers alike. If these movies are an indication of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski‘s signature style, we’re definitely fans.
W is for Wicked Soundtrack
As well as being visually pleasing, John Wick also hosts one of the best soundtracks of the last few years. A mix of hip-hop, dance, chill-out and rock, there’s pretty much something for everybody. Standout tracks include Kaleida‘s Think, Who You Talkin’ to Man by Ciscandra Nostalghia and Tyler Bates, Marilyn Manson‘s Killing Strangers and everything by Le Castle Vania (which forms most of the Red Circle sequence). Le Castle Vania and Ciscandra Nostalghia are returning for the sequel’s soundtrack, going so far as to have a cheeky cameo. We’re still waiting on confirmation of all the artists involved, but it’s sure to be suitably cool. We also know that Tyler Bates returns to score, which is fantastic news given how atmospheric and dangerous sounding his work on the first film was.
X is for Xbox Playable
Xbox’s Payday 2 (also available on PlayStation) features John Wick as an additional downloadable character. That’s right, you can play as the ultimate assassin as you battle through wave after wave of bad guys. Basically, playing the game is like being in your own Red Circle smackdown.
Y is for Young John Wick
After the surprise success of John Wick it was revealed that the story was intended to be part of a trilogy. The sequel sees events pick up almost directly after the end of the first film, but will we ever see John back in his former days? We can’t help but feel that the perfect way to end the three-piece would be with a journey back to where everything started to unravel. The time when he met Helen, fell in love and completed the ‘impossible task’ would be great to behold. Technology has advanced enough that actors can easily be digitally de-aged, so it’s something that could be done. Plus Keanu has barely aged a day since the early nineties and John hasn’t been out of the game for that long.
Z is for Zero
The amount of (on-screen) dogs harmed in John Wick: Chapter 2…maybe…hopefully…please?
John Wick: Chapter Two previews on Tuesday 14th February (Valentine’s Day) ahead of a wide UK release on Friday 17th February.