This weekend sees the long-awaited release of action
A co-director with David Leitch on the first film, Stahelski makes his solo directorial debut with the sequel, and speaking to Scott Davis about the film, he said that he was well aware of the reviews the film is getting and that he feels such things are healthy for filmmakers:
“Shocked – we tried to read everyone, I think it’s healthy as a director. You try not to take it to heart when they say good or bad but you want to know if you’re being interpreted right. The few negatives we’ve heard have been ‘it’s not grounded, it’s ridiculous, you could never do that!’ and we just laugh.”
A pulsating, energetic and supremely entertaining film on its own, John Wick 2 may be one of the best action sequels ever made and it’s no surprise that Stahelski notes the influence of Avatar and Terminator director James Cameron as their blueprint in the approach to the follow-up, saying:
“Mentors of mine always call it the curse of the sequel – fans, and including myself, want what I loved about the first one but I want more and you can get greedy. By definition, a sequel is difficult to be original when you’ve already seen the original. So we followed the analogy of James Cameron… I ripped him off thematically speaking as I wanted to expand the world like he did in ‘Aliens’ and add in more action, a little bit more brutality to the action but at the same time let you off by being more comedic and I took that model as a way to go through it instead of killing another puppy, which I didn’t think I could get away with!”
Other influences came from a variety of different sources. From Asian action to musicals and even Buster Keaton, many elements formed to make Stahelski and Co’s construction and shooting on John Wick 2 so memorable. He said:
“As a martial arts choreographer I studied dance a lot – I do like musical beats. As a gag to all the people who helped me with the dance choreographer mentality, the final scene in the museum it’s done to classical music – it’s done to Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Summer) so we took the percussion and we stripped it out of the score and ran it through a synthesiser, took all the percussion out and choreographed to the guns which filled in the beat. if you go back and turn off the music John is actually doing the percussion beats in the piece.”
With the film grossing over $30million on its opening weekend in the US, attention has already turned to the potential third (and concluding) part of the franchise. Stahelski is keen to return if asked and while he is attached to bring Highlander back to the big screen, he isn’t sure which one would come first, saying:
“It’s a world I am very interested in and I’d liked to be involved in any capacity at this point. Being a director I’m here to entertain – if I can entertain the audience and if they want more I’d be happy to give them more. It just comes down to can we do it and can we keep the thing going and the enticement of the world and if I felt I could deliver that I would want to be part of it.
(On Highlander): “That’s a good question – Hollywood and the schedules. It’s definitely the ‘slow boat’ so it depends on which development would come first. I like to work so whichever one comes first. If my karmic comeuppance in life was to work with Keanu for the next couple of years and retire quietly to a desert island somewhere I’d be happy.”
John Wick 2 opens nationwide in the UK on February 17th.