Keanu Reeves Is Officially Returning To Shoot More People In The Face In JOHN WICK 2!
If you’re a fan of action and managed to go to the movies at any point between last Fall and now, chances are you’ve seen a little $20 million dollar independent film called John Wick, and you dug lead actor Keanu Reeves with fervor in some capacity. Come to think of it, it really is official as a character now owns on the screen thanks in large part to his action-training cohorts at 87 Eleven Action Design, debut directing duo Chad Stahelski and David Leitch with fight coordinator Jonathan Eusebio designing all sorts of unrelenting brutality in Wick‘s wake.
So, now what? Well, a sequel was officially announced to be in development back in February by Lionsgate after Stahleski spoke on it earlier, and now the word from Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson dictated that Reeves is officially returning as well. There are no script or story details as of yet, but the fact that this update exists alone is reason enough to stay excited from here on out. The first film, which saw Reeves as a former contract killer for the Russian mob avenge the destruction of his second chance at a better life by targeting Russian mob boss and his son, was reportedly a last minute pick-up by Lionsgate (Summit) before crushing it with well-over $78 million dollars at the box-office and a current 84% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and if you haven’t noticed, things have been picking up quite handsomely between the two stuntmen-turned-helmers.
Upcoming works like Universal’s Cowboy.Ninja.Viking., Cinemax’s new series, Rain and Valiant/Sony’s forthcoming Harbinger Wars development are all noteworthy attachments at the moment. In the meantime, the possibility of John Wick 2 is a growing certianty now as we move ahead.
Chad Stahelski Talks JOHN WICK 2
The careers of Hollywood second unit directors and stunt coordinators, Chad Stathelski and David Leitch, seem to be getting increasingly better since the theatrical release of their partnering directorial debut, John Wick, last year. The film became a box-office hit a little over four months ago and it has since led to other prospects, including re-teaming with the film’s lead actor, Keanu Reeves, for the live-action assassin series, Rain, in addition to their recently announcement attachment to direct lead actor Chris Pratt in the graphic novel adaptation, Cowboy Ninja Viking.
However, John Wick is not without its merits for a sequel considering its caliber as an original property with a riveting story of one man’s vengeful return to his old life following the death of his inherited dog and theft of his car. If you saw the film, you’ll likely understand a bit more about the prospects for a follow-up with Reeves serving one of his best action performances yet in an independently-produced feature thriller, which is why we’re finally getting some positive news fron Collider who cited the following excerpt from a recent interview with Stahelski at Movies.com:
“We have ideas for days and without blinking twice we know we can outdo the action from the original,” Stahelski said. “It’s the matter of story and how much you like the character. That’s always the most important. If there’s great action but you have a character that no one likes and doesn’t have charisma you’re not going to watch it. Look at any great action star, whether it’s Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson or Robert Downey Jr., pick a name, you love the guy first. Good action, bad action, you just love them in action. So we want to make sure we have a story and a character that everybody loves and then we’ll dress it with action that we promise will be awesome.”
Well, anyone who is anyone at this point loves John Wick. Hopefully some of these ideas will materialize and solidify things for a much deserved sequel, because now the film has a fanbase, and the prospects for a much larger franchise seem to be getting better and better. Stick around, and be sure to buy your copy of John Wick on DVD and Blu-Ray wherever movies are sold!
JOHN WICK Duo, Stahelski And Leitch To Direct COWBOY NINJA VIKING For Universal
2014 was an immensely great year for actor Chris Pratt, and things are about to get even better. The actor is currently on par as a person of interest to reprise the role of Indiana Jones for a new feature film on top of returning to portray his winning role in director James Gunn’s forthcoming Marvel sequel, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 and possibly getting a starring role in The Magnificent Seven remake alongside The Equalizer duo, helmer Anton Fuqua and actor Denzel Washington.
In addition, Pratt’s latest attachment came as of November last year for the lead role in the upcoming graphic novel adaptation, Cowboy Ninja Viking. Based on a 2009 publication from Image Comics via Shadowline, the film now aims to brings Pratt center stage in the role of Duncan, the product of a government program that transforms people with multiple personality disorders into highly trained agents known as “Triplets”, whereas he is now forced to hunt down others like himself using his unique skillset highlit by his three distinct personalities: a cowboy, a ninja, and a viking.
The source material here draws some immense appeal as Pratt has proven to be an actor worthy of taking on several dimensions on screen, so a role like this definitely suits him, and he’s more than likely on board. But what makes for an even better prospect is the fact that Universal Pictures is officially bringing action duo Chad Stathelski and David Leitch on board to direct. Stahelski and Leitch, both respected stunt coordinators and trainers, and founders of their own stunt training facility, 87Eleven Action Design in California, blew the lid off the film festival scene last year with their partnering directorial debut, John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves. The three are expected to partner again for Reeves’s forthcoming series, Rain, and updates are still pending, but rest assured, Universal Pictures has itself a mighty strong team on its hands.
Pratt will be back on the big screen this summer for Jurassic World on June 12, while John Wick is now available wherever movies are sold.
TO THE HASHI: The Problem With Invulnerable Heroes
I have a problem with invulnerable heroes. And I prefer Batman to Superman. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way.
My reason, on the surface, is a simple one. But when we lay it out on the table, it’s much more existentially complex. The knowledge that a character can be harmed bears a direct relationship to how compelling their battles are. And even though we know, like in the case of Batman, that the hero likely will not die during the proceedings of the story, the foundation of their heroics can be measured by the quality of their risks. Put another way, we know they won’t die but we never question whether they can die, or whether they can be harmed in the process of not dying.
On the other hand, a hero that does not risk much, let alone his or her mortality, to do what she does will fall short in the departments of dramatic heft and empathy.
Let’s look at some of the film offerings of recent years and at what they have to say on the topic. On what they have to say about heroic archetypes in general. We’ll allow the definition of “hero” to extend to protagonist, or, in some, the human foil to the stories’ central characters. Take Transformers: Age of Extinction on the latter distinction, wherein we’re given a new set of human characters through which to experience the battle between the honorable Autobots and the duplicitous Decepticons. Where the Transformers themselves are concerned (since most of them, anyway, are treated as little more than busy sentient props), we’ve become intimately accustomed to their physical limitations and vulnerabilities. We see them die left and right in ways that would make even the most carnage-weary of human war veterans blush. But what about their human counterparts? Tour Lebouf in the first three films made a culture of ridiculous survivals, but while the soft reboot might have indeed kept its promise to up the robot drama, it evolved its handling of the human characters in stark contrast. Make no mistake; a guy gets incinerated in the film. But for the most part, the world of Transformers 4 can’t decide whether the human body is made of flesh and bone or Nerf foam and rubber.
Just take a gander at the scene where Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg)’s daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), is fleeing from Galvatron with Optimus Prime. Not only does she go flying from a semi moving at breakneck speed, she also goes on a roll race with Prime on concrete as a wrestling match between two giant robots unfolds directly on top of her. Cade himself moments later drops onto his ass from a fall no less than 60 feet without even pulling a hamstring. (Full disclosure: I might have forgiven the scene if he’d at least pulled a goddamn hamstring.)
So at this point we have the problem of credibility in risk. We’re confused over whether we can really fear for the lives of the human protagonist set. When we see the autobots Globetrotting the humans around like basketballs during the fight scenes, the element of risk becomes….problematic. The same problem was presented, albeit to a lesser extent, in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action reboot. At one point the intrepid reporter April O’Neal magically becomes Spider-Man when the script needs her to survive a fall off of a skyscraper, and in another she and her colleague survive their own bout with a semi that, if he saw it, would presumably make Optimus Prime spill his energon. These scenes didn’t ruin the film, but they did dilute the impact of the characters’ survival. And the empathy felt for them.
Even though the robot physics are off, the human characters in 2013’s Pacific Rim are presented in believable danger. Also, none of them inexplicably float during hand to hand fights –so that’s a plus. (More on that later.)
Riddle me this. What’s the difference between the heroics on display in a great superhero film and an excellent martial arts actioner? In terms of the risk factor, not much. The Raid 2, sequel to Gareth Evans’ 2011 martial arts extravaganza, The Raid: Redemption, gave us a display of martial arts fighters skilled with abilities that, while essentially grounded in realism, pushed the boundaries of fighting prowess to near superhuman dimensions. However, the characters all experienced worlds of hurt that set the audience dancing in cringes. We felt every cut, punch, kick, body slam, and fall. We felt the characters’ mortality. And even though we were quite sure that the main protagonist would survive the movie, the experience of watching him get there was wrought with the adrenaline rush of vicarious risk.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we take the journey with Steve Rodgers, a super soldier that is armed with abilities that make his fight prowess strong in comic book proportions and his body freakishly durable, and yet the heroics remain tempered by compatible augments in the risk factors he is surrounded by. We know he can still die, can get stabbed, shot –killed. And more importantly, he knows this as well and shows it.
John Wick, another action film from 2014, starred Keanu Reeves as the titular character, a retired elite assassin brought out of hibernation to exact righteous revenge on a crew of thugs. He is just a man, to be sure. But as the protagonist in an action film, his fight prowess and handgun marksmanship make him a character that could believably exist in the same universe as Captain America, and yet what he does in the film, or the world in which he does it, never traipses over into comic book movie conventions. We know that he can die (if he does, he will stay dead!), and at the beginning of the film it is even hinted that he just might. He gets stabbed, shot, beaten to a pulp. All credible and compelling, never sacrificing the empathy quotient.
Compare that to Tom Cruise in John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2, where we’re essentially back on Cybertron: Land of Pliable Humans. The fights are cartoonish, the physics would piss off Thanos in the Marvel Universe, and Tom Cruise barely even messes his hair.
In Lucy (2014), the humans only use 10% of their brains trope is exploited as Scarlett Johansson grows into what can adequately be described as a living deity. Her powers include the awkward need of a gun toting human companion despite being able to freeze her enemies in time and make them float with her thoughts.
There’s that mention of floating again. Who remembers Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li? A show of hands. Well, that film is not unlike its ugly cousin, Dragonball: Evolution, in that it seemed to have been actively engaged in a grudge war with the martial arts genre. Neither of these count as wushu films, so there’s no excuse for the ridiculous floating. But both films give us cartoonish martial arts so silly looking that they bleed the scenes of their dramatic punch. The only danger the fighters are in is embarrassing themselves, so there is nothing to be gained from watching them survive and ultimately win. The further the element of realism is stretched, I think, the more important it is that a foundation of danger for the characters be stressed. If your villain can shoot energy blasts, you’d better have a hero that can be hurt by them.
I had a similar problem with 2003’s Daredevil. Admittedly, many of the fight and action scenes were sharp. And yes, the titular character is a superhero, one that exists in a universe with a guy that can kill a man by tossing a toothpick at him from across a room. But at no point are we ever provided evidence that a highly acrobatic blind man can feasibly throw himself into freefall from over a hundred feet and land down softly in a pounce like a cartoon cat without breaking some bones. Can’t we, like, get a cracked fibula?
There is a place for invulnerable heroes, however. Indeed, a story about one can provide for some interesting explorations in emotional conflict. But if we are to truly appreciate the physical dilemma of the archetype or experience explored, we need for there to be more at risk for him or her than a bad hair day and some dirty clothes.
Khalil Barnett is a martial arts practioner living in Florida, and is also a filmmaker, writer, producer and actor starring in the independent action drama series, The Way, still active in production. Visit the official Facebook page for more info.
Lead Photo: Hugh Jackman as Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine) in X2: X-Men United (2003) from 20th Century Fox
Catch New B-Roll Footage From The Set Of JOHN WICK!
Lionsgate is officially releasing their latest action blowout, John Wick, in 2D and IMAX theaters in two weeks, and several exclusive screenings are already pending or underway for lucky moviegoers in North America and Canada. The film has already gotten off to an amazing start with rave reviews spanning many film sites following its intial premiere at Fantastic Fest last month.
Needless to say, it appears that actor Keanu Reeves and debut directing duo Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are having a pretty good season, as they are already continuing their collaborative efforts for Reeves‘ upcoming foray into TV. In the meantime, Apple consumers may still have time to catch the actor in New York City at Apple Store SoHo on Monday.
Until then, you can now catch Reeves and co. in a brand new audioless B-Roll featurette, bringing you behind the scenes of all the action that awaits. Or, if you need something with a tad more noise, the latest TV spot is just beneath.
JOHN WICK's Keanu Reeves & Co. To Appear At Apple Store SoHo Next Monday!!
John Wick, the newest action thriller from stunt action auteurs and debut directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch is shaping up to be one of the biggest action thrillers of the season. The reviews are upbeat and the fanfare is ever-growing, and one week from today, moviegoers and Apple consumers alike in New York City may be in luck!
The Apple Store in SoHo will be the place to be on October 13, 2014 if you want to meet the directors, producer Basil Ilwaynk, and the film’s stellar lead, actor Keanu Reeves, and you can reserve your place right now at the official website. Just scroll straight down to where it says ‘Upcoming Store Events And Workshops’, scroll further and click ‘View More’ until the listing appears.
Based on a script by Derek Kolstad, John Wick is the latest to star Reeves in a role that puts the title character back in the field of battle and armed to the teeth when a New York crime boss’s son attacks him, steals his car and murders his dog, a parting gift from his late wife…
Yes, you want to see the movie. Don’t argue.
The film opens on October 24, 2014.
H/T: Mr. Reeves Blog
JOHN WICK Gets An Official IMAX Release Announcement
Keanu Reeves is going to tear the underworld a new asshole in multiple shoe sizes next month when Summit/Lionsgate releases its newest crowdpleaser, John Wick to the masses, in 2D and IMAX. The film is already the recipient of tons of film festival accolades and fanfare with press galore, and early screenings still taking place.
I wonder if more will happen for this film. Sequels anyone? For now, I say Aye!
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) and Lionsgate’s (NYSE: LGF) Summit Entertainment label today announced the stylized assassin film John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves, will be digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® format and released in domestic IMAX® theatres starting Oct. 24.
Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, both of whom worked with Reeves as stunt technicians on all three of The Matrix films, John Wick tells the story of a retired assassin (Reeves) who, after suffering a deadly loss, returns to the fray to hunt down the gangsters who wronged him. The film co-stars Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane and Bridget Moynahan.
John Wick, which screened last month at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, marks the first IMAX domestic roll-out for Reeves since The Day the Earth Stood Still in 2008 and the second and third Matrix films more than five years prior.
“We are over the moon that John Wick will play in IMAX theatres,” said Lionsgate’s President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution, Richie Fay. “This film is loaded with non-stop action and excitement, but full of heart; it really exploded out of Fantastic Fest and we cannot wait to share it with audiences around the country.”
“John Wick is a fun action romp, complete with a tremendously entertaining performance by Keanu Reeves that is perfect for IMAX fans,” said Phil Groves, Senior Vice President, IMAX Corp and Executive Vice President of Global Distribution, IMAX Entertainment. “There’s no better place for audiences to experience the film’s stylized storytelling than in IMAX theatres.
The IMAX release of John Wick will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.
About John Wick
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet riddled playground, John Wick (Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the assassin genre.
Leitch and Stahelski also produced the film, along with Basil Iwanyk, Mike Witherill and actress-producer Eva Longoria. John Wick will be released theatrically in North America on Oct. 24.
A Third Poster And New Trailer Have Arrived For JOHN WICK!
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, JOHN WICK (Keanu Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the “assassin genre”.
Keanu Reeves Teams With ‘John Wick’ Helmers For Action TV Series, RAIN
If you CLICK HERE, you will see a trailer for the 2009 hitman thriller, Rain Fall. It starred The Dark Knight Trilogy actor Gary Oldman with Shinobi: Heart Under Blade actor Kippei Shiina in the English-language action pic which Lionsgate picked up for release a few years after it was released in Japan in 2009, and now, the title is back in a new iteration set for television with leading action man, actor Keanu Reeves.
Reeves, along with stunt auteurs and filmmakers David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, and author Barry Eisler have partnered up with LA-based Slingshot Global Media for the forthcoming production of the new action series, Rain. The show will be based on Eisler’s eponymous twelve-year running action espionage novel series character, John Rain, a military-trained half-Japanese/Caucasian hitman whose employ is based on three rules: No women or children, no assistance or outside help, and only principle targets are allowed-no collateral or “message sending” targets.
An official description of the forthcoming series so far reads as follows, courtesy of Deadline:
Rain centers on John Rain (Reeves), a half-Japanese, half-American contract assassin who specializes in taking out his targets by making it look like death by natural causes. An outsider in whatever world he’s in, Rain ironically finds that the one identity he knows – that of being a hitman – is the very thing that prevents him from bringing others closer into his life. Eisler’s series of novels featuring Rain, on which the show is based, includes “A Clean Kill in Tokyo”, “A Lonely Resurrection”, “Winner Take All”, “Redemption Games”, “Extremis”, “The Killer Ascendant”, “The Detachment”, and “Graveyard Of Memories”.
Reeves, who is also half-Asian (elemental to his role in the 2013 samurai spectacle, 47 Ronin) will make his television debut as the lead actor, and is also executive producing the series with Leitch and Stahelski. The series is also one of a handful of big moves for stuntmen moving in on the forefront of mainstream filmmaking behind the camera for Leitch and Stahelski, following their co-directorial action-packed hitman debut, John Wick, also starring Reeves; Lionsgate is theatrically releasing John Wick on October 24, 2014.
Stay tuned for more info on Rain as the news progresses.
Reel Time: DON THAI THEERATHADA (2014)
Stuntman, fight coordinator and choreographer Don Thai Theerathada has been at it professionally for the last twenty-one years, having recently completed work for the upcoming releases of the Leitch/Stahelski co-directorial debut, John Wick, the August 8 release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and this weekend’s release of Transformers: Age Of Extinction. Some of his career highlights can now be seen in a newly cut reel on the official YouTube channel for California-based stunt training studio, 87Eleven, with several cool highlights of his work in recent years, including The Expendables 2 (2012), and alongside award-winning premiere stunt coordinator J.J. Perry for Bullet To The Head (2013) and Haywire (2012).
There are other goodies in between, and needless to say, I can’t wait to see what else he adds to his resume. Surprises are aboud! Take a look!
Daniel Bernhardt Joins The Russian Mafia In Reeves' Next, JOHN WICK
Promising a spectacular action packed revenge thriller, Deadline has reported that actor and martial arts action star, and The Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire co-star Daniel Bernhardt (Bloodsport 2, 3 and 4, The Cutter, Parker) has been added to the cast of the next Keanu Reeves-starring action vehicle, John Wick. Based on a screenplay by The Package scribe Mark Kolstad, the film features Reeves in the title role, following the story of a former hitman whose late wife’s dog is murdered by a thug and his friends who steal his 1969 Ford Mustang, leading Wick to a climatic showdown with the thug’s father, a Russian New York crime boss who makes Wick a target.
Produced by Basil Ilwaynk and Mike Witherill, and executive produced by Reeves along with Kevin Scott Frakes and Raj Brinder Singh for Thunder Road Pictures and H & W Movie Partners, the New York-based production of John Wick was intially announced back in May, marking the forthcoming directorial debut for Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, the owners and operators of California-based Hollywood stunt training, film and choreography studio, 87Eleven Action Design. The film, featuring fight direction by 87Eleven’s own Jonathan Eusebio and Jon Valera, will also star actress Bridget Moynahan as Wick’s wife, in addition to actors Michael Nyqvist and Alfie Allen as the nefarious father and son crime family. Actress Adrianne Palicki and actors Dean Winters and Willem Dafoe round out the current main cast, with Bernhardt playing one of Nyqvist‘s henchmen, and Dafoe playing friend to Reeves‘ character who is ultimately hired to kill him.
Reeves is currently set to appear in the upcomimg fantasy samurai action adventure, 47 Ronin, set to release in Japan on December 6, and in North America on Christmas Eve this month. Dafoe will also appear in director Scott Cooper’s upcoming family crime drama, Out Of The Furnace in the U.S. on December 6.
John Wick also makes the latest project to see Reeves and Bernhardt back on the screen since starring opposite each other in 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions where Stahelski also served as stunt coordinator. Earlier this year in an interview with The Action Elite founder and editor Eoin Friel, Bernhardt discussed plans for a previous shortfilm he directed in 2010 with then-leading actor Leitch titled Fetch. Click HERE for the interview.
John Wick will tentatively release in 2014, with dates and distribution announcements pending.