Keanu Reeves is 52 years old. You wouldn’t know that watching “John Wick: Chapter 2.” In the sequel to the 2014 hit, his character — the world’s best and most feared assassin — is blackmailed into taking a job that backfires badly. He winds up pursued by any colleague who thinks they can take him out. Bigger, crazier and maybe even better than the first, it also doubles down on the action, forcing the former Ted “Theodore” Logan into many an acrobatic scrape, many of them filmed in long takes where you can see how much he nails complicated and bruising fight choreography.
You kill a lot of people in this.
Yes, but they are after me.
Do you like doing your own stunts?
Yes. I don’t do that many tricks, but I try to do as much action as possible. I like to take care of that relationship between the audience and the character. Besides, I love doing action scenes. And in this film there is much more judo, jiu-jitsu. The weapon handling is on another level. The action scenes in general are very advanced.
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There are a couple of words like "gun fu" and "car fu" that are associated with the first “John Wick.” How do you define them?
If you are working with a gun and you make a Judo drop, that is "gun fu.” You combine both. Same with a car: if you send someone flying with a car crashing into a wall, that's "car fu." [Laughs]
The first “John Wick” stayed in NYC, but this one has more of an international flavor, even jumping over to Rome for a stretch.
The film’s director [Chad Stahelski] and all the others involved in it wanted to expand the film’s panorama more and were motivating us to do it that way. Chad had the idea of going to Rome, because there is a long history of assassinations, as well as underground things — entities from beyond. That's why we had an Italian team. It was very cool to shoot in Rome and watch the movie's palette open that way.
And you get to briefly reunite with your “Matrix” co-star Laurence Fishburne.
It's the first time I've worked with Laurence since the “Matrix” trilogy, and it was a great experience. It's always good to work with him again, there's a very warm atmosphere on the set. He’s a legend, right?
What do you like more: motorcycles or movies?
I'm always on the lookout for the weirdest, wildest thrills — something interesting. It could be something very commercial or independent, but I always like some darkness in my projects. I think films and motorcycles are very similar. The strangest thing is that they both have left scars on my body.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge