John Wick arrived in 2014 with little fanfare, but as the release was seeded out to cinemas worldwide in 2015 it began to gain a reputation for being one of the most intriguing neo-noir revenge thrillers of recent years, combining slick action sequences and gun fu influences. In John Wick: Chapter 2, Keanu Reeves returns as the ex-hitman, but instead of being set on a bloody path of revenge he’s pulled back into the seedy underworld he’s been desperately trying to retire from. Although the sequel reveals a little more about John’s world there’s still so much we don’t know about the man they call “Baba Yaga” (The Boogeyman) and the world he inhabits. Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
How did he become a hitman?
We know he’s “a man of focus” (as it’s mentioned numerous times) and his focus was pretty clear in the first movie. John is set on a path of bloody vengeance after his car is stolen and the dog that his late wife leaves him to help him grieve has been killed. John comes out of retirement to set the record straight. However, as enjoyable as it’s been to see Wick kick serious mobster ass, the filmmakers have chosen to leave his background a mystery, even in Chapter 2. We still know nothing about how he was pulled into the underworld, his involvement with the Continental, if he had a mentor in his younger years and how he came to meet his wife. Of course, revealing too much would lose the intriguing lore that’s been built around the character but it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few fun details about his past.
How did John Wick leave his old life behind?
From John Wick: Chapter 2, we know that Wick was set an “impossible task” by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) and in doing so John has been bound by a blood oath to D’Antonio (more about that later!) ever since. It’s never mentioned what this impossible task was or why he had to answer to D’Antonio and what their connection is.
What’s this about a “marker”?
Chapter 2 introduces the idea of a marker that is given signifying a blood oath. On the marker, there’s a fingerprint placed in blood and once the marker has been honoured the person that holds that marker places his or her own fingerprint on there too, which ‘ends’ the blood oath. Nothing else is mentioned about the marker or who has the right to hold these (we assume it’s the crime lords and not just any old assassin!). Owner of the Continental Hotel, Winston (Ian McShane) hands John a marker in the last scenes of Chapter 2, now on the run with a contract on his head. Perhaps the third installment will see Wick call in some favours of his own.
John’s Network of Allies
It seems as though John has acquired quite the network of allies over the years from Winston at the Continental to Aurelio (John Leguizamo), owner of a high-end chop shop. There’s also the hotel’s manager Charon and Wick’s assassin buddy Marcus (Willem Dafoe) who met his fate after helping John out in the first movie. Winston had a bigger role to play in Chapter 2 but Auerlio and Charon are two intriguing characters whose stories have yet to be fleshed out and it’s still unclear why Winston still clearly still has a soft spot for John. Nevertheless, with John now on the run, perhaps he’ll be able to rely on some of these allies in the next film.
The Crime Lords
In the first film, Wick was seeking vengeance from Iosef (Alfie Allen), the son of Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), as a Russian gangster. However, Chapter 2 reveals that there are various high-powered crime lords operating at different levels in different parts of New York (and Rome). Each crime lord seems to have their own style of ‘operation’ like The Bowery King’s (Lauren Fishburne), whose cronies are dressed as bums around the city of New York so they can keep their eyes and ears to the ground at all times. D’Antonio sets John on a task to kill his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) so he can take her seat on “The High Table”, a council of crime lords of the highest level. There’s some talk between The Bowery King and John and they have a past but just how involved John is with each crime lord, we don’t know.
How Does ‘The High Table’ Work?
From D’Antonio’s dealings with John there seems to be hierarchical system in place when it comes to the various crime lords’ positions on this ‘High Table’. However, we don’t know how they acquire such a position and if there are power struggles at these top seat; it’s suggested in Chapter 2 that D’Antonio taking his sister’s place would shift power in a direction not all would agree with but now he’s gone, is there a vacant seat and how do the crime lords dictate their rule within the underworld?