John Wick: Chapter 2 | 2017
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back, and New York is looking very slightly off-kilter again, this time with a sneaky mix’n’match of locations taking in Montreal and Rome.
An out-of-control bike skids to a halt in front of Victoria’s Secret on New York’s Eighth Avenue, according to the street sign.
But this is Quebec, and this particular branch of VS stands on the corner of Rue Sainte-Catherine West and Rue Stanley in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile.
John Wick’s borrowed Chevy Chevelle is in hot pursuit and the chase continues along a neon-lit Rue Saint-Catherine West until it rams the bike – in Manhattan, at the junction of Broadway and West 40th Street, just south of Times Square. So, yes, the locations are going to be tricky.
Wick relieves the unconscious rider of a gold card which gives him access to the busy warehouse / chop shop where his stolen Mustang is being held.
The warehouse belongs to Abram (Peter Stormare), the brother of Viggo Tarasov from Chapter 1. Reclaiming his now less-than-pristine motor, Wick proposes peace with the crime boss and looks forward to a quiet retirement, but that would have resulted in a very short film.
The past comes calling in the form of Santino d’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calling in an old debt of honour with a ‘marker’. It’s an offer Wick can’t refuse.
Both carless and now homeless, Wick crosses the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, heading to the ‘Continental Hotel’, which is once again the Beaver Building, 1 Wall Street Court at the junction of Beaver and Pearl Streets in Lower Manhattan.
Likewise, its deco lobby is again the old Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, once the prestigious ticket hall of the Cunard Line.
It's up on the Continental’s roof that Winston (Ian McShane) advises Wick that he has no option but to take the ‘marker’ and complete the job. If this garden looks familiar, you may have seen it before in Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man – it’s the rooftop to which Spidey (Tobey Maguire) whisks Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) to safety after thwarting the Green Goblin's attack on the 'World Unity Parade'.
It’s the Rockefeller Roof Gardens, atop the Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, overlooked by those unmistakable spires of St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Reluctantly, Wick heads off to meet d’Antonio at what looks at first glance like the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art on Fifth Avenue. It is New York, right?
Well, nothing is quite what it seems in this version of the city. This is apparently the ‘New Modern NYC’, which houses d’Antonio’s father’s famous art collection. Never heard of it?
Don’t let the digital addition of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings fool you. This is the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art), Viale delle Belle Arti and it's in Rome.
That’s the gallery’s interior, too, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, and housed in the 1915 Palazzo delle Belle Arti (Palace of Fine Arts).
Wick is disturbed to discover that the job is a hit on d’Antonio’s own sister, Gianna, who's about to ascend to a coveted position on the High Table, the council of top crime lords.
A montage of landmarks including the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument let’s us know we’ve now officially arrived in the Eternal City.
The severe frontage of Rome’s own ‘Continentale’ hotel, not as discreet as its Manhattan counterpart, is the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento, Piazza Venezia, at the rear of the famous Victor Emmanuel II National Monument, which we saw in the Rome montage. It's a museum of Italian history, focusing on the Risorgimento, the unification of the country completed in 1871.
The lavish interior, where Wick is obliged to reassure hotel manager Julius (Franco Nero) that he’s not here to off the Pope, is clearly not a museum. It's the Grand Hotel Plaza, Via del Corso, opposite the Basilica of SS. Ambrose and Charles. The building dates from 1860 and the luxurious hotel retains many original features.
On his way to get kitted out with a bulletproof suit, lots of guns and maps of ancient monuments, Wick walks through Piazza Navona, with Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Obelisk of Domitian.
Take notice of the little old bookshop where he collects those old maps. This is a real gem. The Antica Libreria Cascianelli, Largo Febo, 14/16, is one of Rome’s most historic bookshops. A must for bibliophiles, the bookshop has kept its furnishings almost unchanged since the 1830s.
Among the quirks of the place, the windows are equipped with a mechanism that allows them to move backwards by sliding on rails and, yes, that hidden door which looks like a cabinet.
The premises opened as a tailor's shop in 1835, supplying vestments to the clergy, before being converted into a bookshop by the Cascianelli family in 1909. It’s long been a favourite of writers and artists – Oliver Stone, Mel Brooks and even Greta Garbo have passed through its doors.
The maps are needed because Gianna d'Antonio (Claudia Gerini) is hosting a party to celebrate her “coronation” as a member of the High Table in her vast, ancient palazzo.
In reality, this is the Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla), the city's second largest Roman public baths. Built in 217CE, during the reigns of emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla, they were used for over three hundred years before they fell into disuse and finally ruin.
The Baths' classical architecture has inspired the look of such diverse places such as New York's old Pennsylvania Station, Chicago's Union Station and Ottawa's Senate of Canada Building.
When Gianna retires to her stylishly bare-brick but luxurious private quarters, this is Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust), Piazza Sallustio, 21. Once an estate and landscaped pleasure garden owned by Julius Caesar, it was developed in the 1st century BCE by a historian called Sallust. For centuries it was kept as a public amenity by the Roman Emperors until being sacked by the Goths in 410CE. Never rebuilt, it remains a picturesque ruin, sometimes used as a events space.
After a spectacular shootout in the subterranean tunnels beneath the Baths of Caracalla, Wick makes his escape only to be run down by a car on Piazza Degli Zingari outside Residenza Leonina, about a mile to the north of the Baths, near the Cavour metro station.
His assailant turns out to be Gianna’s loyal bodyguard Cassian (Common) and the subsequent fight sees them tumbling down the Scalinata di Borgia (Stairway of the Borgias). Allegedly standing on the site of the house of the notorious Borgia family, it's really a block or two south from where they were fighting, running down from the Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli to Via Cavour in the quiet Colle Esquilino district.
Even more amazingly, the pair somehow end up crashing through the window of the Continentale. Once inside the hallowed place, hostilities must cease.
Back to New York, phones ring all over the city as d’Antonio, claiming he needs to avenge his sister’s death, puts out an “open contract” on John Wick.
Wick suddenly finds himself attacked by all sorts of strangers. If you were wondering where you'd find those illuminated panels on the New York subway, you won't. They are in the Place des Arts metro station in Montreal.
It's quickly back to the real Manhattan as Wick fends off an attack by Cassian in the plaza of the Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue at West 65th Street, with both of them firing crazily through the waters of its famous Revson Fountain, before they scuttle down into the nearest subway.
Well, not the nearest but the most photogenic – about 80 blocks south.
They end up in glossy white spaces of the grandly named World Trade Center Transportation Hub, 70 Vesey Street, replacing the old World Trade Center PATH station, which had only just opened when the film was shot.
Wick eventually leaves Cassian on a subway train, alive “as a professional courtesy”, but with a blade in his aorta.
Seriously injured himself, Wick resorts to using one of the organisation's tokens for help from an underground network of the apparently homeless. They take him to their leader, the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). He's tending pigeons on a rooftop at the Brooklyn end of the Manhattan Bridge, which is the roof of the Adams Street Library, 135 Plymouth Street at Adams Street.
Tended and re-armed, Wick is off to the art museum for a confrontation with d’Antonio, where everything goes a bit Lady From Shanghai or Enter The Dragon (according to your generation) with a hall of mirrors shoot out.
D’Antonio escapes to sanctuary in the inviolable territory of the Continental but, once John Wick breaks the cardinal rule by terminating the smugly complacent d’Antonio in the hotel's dining room, he becomes “excommunicado” and can no longer expect help from any quarter.
Summoned to a meeting with Winston by the fountain on the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, Wick is informed he has one hour before a worldwide contract on him comes into force.
He flees into the darkening Central Park…