The last we saw of John Wick (Keanu Reeves), he was running from scores of would-be assassins following a final meeting with Continental manager, Winston (Ian McShane). Excommunicado, bloodied and battered, the bounty on his head was doubled and had gone global by order of the High Table. With a one-hour head start, the hunter was the hunted and we had the perfect backdrop for a third installment of the immensely popular franchise. However, while it would be easy enough to simply pick up where the second film left off, director Chad Stahelski has suggested that John Wick: Chapter 3 could delve more into the origins of the eponymous character and the mechanics of the High Table, while also hinting that John’s story will come to an end.
In an interview with The Independent, Stahelski, who’s also working on the Highlander reboot, said that the movie was “in that magic spot called development” and detailed some of the themes that he hoped to explore. “We are going to put in something about the High Table, how that all works,” he said. “We’re going to put in something about where John comes from, and where he wants to go. I don’t want to say too much more, but it will be a nice completion to Mr Wick’s journey.”
Even if John’s character arc ends with Chapter 3, it will be interesting to find out what happened to him prior to the events of the first two films, specifically how he came to be a killing machine when we’ve seen him trying so hard to be a regular guy so far. “We’ll be able to show what he’s like as the predator, what he would have been like before the first one,” said Stahelski.
We already know that John left the criminal underworld when he met his wife, who subsequently died and inadvertently set up the premise of the first movie. Chapter 2 was set a few days after John had dispatched everyone involved with the death of his puppy (a dying gift from his wife) and theft of his car. It went a little deeper into the murky waters of the life that John had tried to leave behind. We learnt that he had to complete an ‘impossible task’ to escape the underworld, when he was forced to return by a ‘Marker’ presented to him by the man who had helped him get out, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). We saw a more light-hearted approach to the workings of a worldwide network of deadly assassins: suit shops specialising in bullet-proof tailoring and sommeliers who can recommend the perfect weaponry for every course at dinner. The strict code that everyone must adhere to, and the consequences of failure to do so, were explicitly presented.
For me, the jury is still out on Chapter 3. I loved the first film and would have liked to picture John living happily ever after with his new dog. And while I really enjoyed Chapter 2 – visually alone, it’s an absolute belter of a movie, with some great set-pieces and scenery – I was a bit annoyed that it was clearly setting up a sequel. I’m very much in the minority on that point if the box office performance of the first two movies is a barometer of how the next one will be received. And to be fair, those niggling doubts have been somewhat allayed with the idea that Chapter 3 could have some origin or prequel threads running underneath the present story, rather than the more predictable scenario where John simply kicks the arse of everyone who shows up to kill him, which is pretty much what he told Winston he would do in the final act of Chapter 2. I’m also hopeful that Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane will reprise their roles. The sage, strict but loyal persona of Winston really suits McShane, Leguizamo is possibly the best character actor of his generation, and it goes without saying that it was mind-blowing to see The Matrix‘s Morpheus and Neo share the screen again.
Fans will no doubt be aware that Lionsgate is also bouncing around the concept of a small screen spin-off under the title ‘The Continental’, which will focus on the global chain of hotels and its clientele. The show will likely serve as a prequel to the movies and could even feature a cameo from Reeves. So that’s something else to keep an eye on. In the meantime, let’s hope that John gets his own back on the High Table and hopefully a chance to disappear into the sunset for good!