If you hammer away at the casing covering the core of John Wick like a layer of cement guarding gold coins, you'll find a story of opposites. The highly stylized and hyper-violent action contrasts slick, tailor-made suits with the rough-and-tumble occupation of a professional killer. It contrasts visually beautiful, neon-drenched backdrops with the ugliness of blood spilt in conflict. But, above all else, it contrasts the surreal with the authentic.
This duality is perhaps one of the reasons the franchise has performed so well, defying expectations by breathing life into Hollywood's world of action, one exceptionally choreographed fight scene at a time. That process has been helped by stunt co-ordinators turned directors, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, as well as #KeanuReeves, who proudly performs the majority of his stunts himself.
The level of attention to detail and trademark authenticity (mixed with the far-fetched, demigod nature of the titular protagonist) has become a staple of the franchise, but even so, sometimes the risks in bringing that to the screen are high. In an interview with CinemaBlend, stunt driver Joe Dryden revealed that there was one hard-hitting scene in #JohnWick2 that required CGI to pull off, as the usual approach of live-stunts was too dangerous. He said:
"The shot in the warehouse chase, where John Wick opens his door and the motorcycle hits it and goes flying over the top of it. That was one that I argued to do practically."
Dryden explained that, unsurprisingly, the crew made the decision to use a replacement dummy, which was undoubtedly a wise call. He added:
"So they put a dummy on the bike, and they towed the dummy into the door, and then they did layer that with a bit of CGI just to kind of clear it up."
'John Wick: Chapter 3' Will Focus On The Intricate Details
The devotion to live-stunts is admirable, and a hallmark of the franchise, helped by an obvious enthusiasm for the craft from the directors themselves. Chad Stahelski even carries a notebook, filled with ideas on fight scenes he'd like to carry out in his career. The good news is, John Wick: Chapter 3 will continue to focus on bringing those ideas to life, rather than go bigger for the sake of it.
Stahelski has previously explained the allure of John Wick is the level of creative freedom he has with the character. He's a contract killer that isn't restricted by realism in the manner of Bond or Bourne, but he's no superhero either. In an interview with Collider, the director explained that rather than making #JohnWick3 more of a spectacle, instead the story will explore the intricacies of Wick's world. He said:
"We want to show you cool and intricate hidden details. What are those little details in everyday life? Hopefully we make people look at garbage collectors and cleaner vans and taxi cab drivers and homeless people a little differently now."
That "everyday life" is helped largely by the Continental, the bizarrely omnipotent organization that contrasts the shady underworld with ordered elegance. Such is the charm of the idiosyncrasies of the #JohnWick universe, there are even plans for a prequel television show, The Continental, dedicated to expanding all aspects of the clandestine community. Let's just hope there aren't too many dummies harmed in the process.
What is your favourite John Wick stunt?