An obvious enemy isn’t always the most dangerous threat to anyone who engages in the criminal underworld; supposed allies can at times pose an even more harrowing risk. The beloved title character from the hit 2014 neo-noir action film, ‘John Wick,’ is unfortunately learning that even the people who have helped him in the past can now instead cause him danger in the present. That all-too-important lesson is a key motivating factor in the thriller’s upcoming sequel, ‘John Wick: Chapter 2.’ The follow-up once again reunites director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad with the franchise’s star, Keanu Reeves, to tell another gripping cautionary tale of how revenge can often times drive troublesome peril.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2,’ which begins a few days after the ending of the first film, follows the title character (Reeves) finally retrieving his prized 1969 Mustang from New York’s Russian mob. John has also just finished putting away his weapons collection, so that he can finally enjoy his retirement, when an unexpected visitor shows up at his door. A fellow assassin, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), wants John to repay the debt he owes him, after Santino saved John’s life. Santino’s help allowed John to secretly leave the world of professional crime, and form a new life with his now-deceased wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan, who’s shown in brief flashbacks).

John is obligated by a blood oath to honor Santino’s repayment demand. So Santino wants his former colleague to target his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), who’s the leader of their Italian crime family. When John tells Santino that he no longer wishes to immerse himself in his former profession, Santino retaliates against John by burning down his house, including his supply of weapons. In order to find protection for himself, John decides to visit Winston (Ian McShane), the arbiter of his secret assassins guild. Winston tells John that if he doesn’t fulfill his obligation to the organization, it will have him eliminated.

So John decides to follow through with Santino’s request, and travels to Rome to kill Gianna, where he discovers she’s protected by her loyal hitman, Cassian (Common). Sanino is determined to stop his sister before she can take a position in the High Table, a council that consists of the leaders who control the world’s top organized crime groups, as he wants to join the council himself. So he has his own deadly bodyguard, Ares (Ruby Rose), follow John, in order to make sure he completes his job. The relentless bodyguard is just another threat John will have to stop if he’s going to survive his unwanted assignment.

Reeves, McShane, Common, Stahelski, Kolstad and producer Basil Iwanyk generously took the time to participate in a panel on Saturday during New York Comic-Con. Lionsgate, which served as one of the production companies on the action series’ second installment, hosted the panel, which included a Q&A session with the cast and crew, as well as exclusive footage from the film. The panel, which was held in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, was also broadcast live on Twitch. Summit Entertainment, which is owned by Lionsgate, is set to distribute the sequel in theaters on February 10, 2017.

Reeves started the conversation by admitting it’s nice to hear how excited the fans of the original crime thriller are to see the sequel. “When we made the first film, we thought it was cool. We were trying to do something new and fresh. We had the opportunity to tell the next chapter because of you,” the actor shared.

The performer added that he was happy to be able to reunite with Stahelski on the second film, and also have the opportunity to work with Common on the new installment. “I also really liked putting this suit back on! I get to do what John Wick does best-the action. I get to play the guy who’s fighting to be free again,” Reeves also divulged.

Further speaking of the action sequences, Stahelski explained that “Just like the first film, we tried to choreograph the action sequences to show that John is an unrelenting force of nature,” the director explained. “Keanu and Common worked with the stunt on tactical gun work. Mr. Reeves also drove the hell out of his Mustang!”

McShane also praised the sequel’s title character, and called him Winston’s “favorite assassin. I think he’s a little biased, but (Winston) has a special affinity for John. I think Derek wrote a fantastic story, and Chad did a great job” bringing the script to the screen.

When then asked what Winton will be doing in the follow-up, McShane retorted, “Running the hotel-what do you think?,” which garnered laughs from the crow. “Assassins never stop. But I think I’m the only one left in the hotel from the first film…But Winston provides a grounding for the film.”

While McShane is one of the characters from the original film who returned for its successor, Common created a new role for the latest installment. The actor revealed that he “was super excited to be able to be a part of this ‘John Wick’ movement. When I saw the first one, I was like, ‘Wow, this is some cool sh*t.’ It made me enjoy everything I love about movies.

“So when Chad and Basil said they wanted me for ‘John Wick: Chapter 2,’ I said, ‘Please let me be in this.” Chad told me I was going to have to get my fighting skills up, in order to bring (Cassian) to this intense level,” Common also noted. “I’ve been in other action films, and I respect them. But this is the highest level of action I’ve done, especially with the new styles of fighting, and I really enjoyed them.”

Common also praised Reeves’ work ethic on the set of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2.’ Due to “his intensity and drive, I love being in a scene with him. We’re both competing, but he’s the champ,” which earned applause from the crowd. Common added that “My character isn’t necessarily a villain,” to which his co-star replied, “We do have a disagreement and different points of view.”

Kolstad then discussed why he decided to reunite with Stahelski and Reeves and make a sequel, especially since the original movie didn’t necessarily call for a follow-up story. “In the first film, we alluded to characters who may pop up in this world. ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ takes place about a week after the first one. What we love about that is in all of the drafts of the screenplay that we did, the thing that we held onto is that there’s an item called the marker, which is regulated by the Continental.” The screenwriter added that John Wick has changed and tried to get out of the life, but since he has resurfaced, so has the Continental.

Every time that Iwanyk mentioned to anyone that he was working on a sequel to ‘John Wick,’ the first question he would receive was, “Are you going to kill the dog again? I couldn’t tell if that was the good news or the bad news…Lionsgate hasn’t said if we’re allowed to say what happens to the dog in this one, but you will see what happens when you watch the film.”

Reeves also spoke about reunited with his ‘Matrix’ trilogy co-star, Laurence Fishburne, in ‘John Wick: Chapter 2.’ “We saw each other at a social function, and he told me, ‘I really liked ‘John Wick.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah?,'” which garnered a laugh from the crowd. “He said, ‘I’ll read the script.'” After the role of Bowery King was written for Fishburne, the filmmakers sent him the screenplay, and he then agreed to appear in the action film when he met them in New York.

When then asked why the original movie resonated so much with not just the cast, but also audiences, Kolstad said that “it’s a throwback to the movies I love. They’re very simple-you know the stakes within the first ten minutes. It’s about innocence lost.”

In the script that Kolstad wrote for the follow-up, audiences will learn a bit more about the title character’s backstory, as well as the organization he works for. “In the world of the Continental, Common plays a fellow assassin. Ian’s character, Winston, becomes a little more international, as we go to Rome,” Reeves revealed. “We’re introduced to another layer of a group called the High Table. So you do learn a little more about John.”

Watch the new official teaser trailer, which debuted during the New York Comic Con panel, and check out the new teaser poster, for ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ below.

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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