In the latest “John Wick” movie, Keanu Reeves’s dogged assassin takes the term “strong, silent type” to extremes.
“Give me a name,” Wick growls in a typical exchange. It leads him to an 8-minute fight sequence in a cavernous Berlin disco packed with gyrating dancers.
In total, Wick utters an average four words per line of dialogue as he confronts scores of attackers across Morocco, Japan, Germany and France. Whether enemies are talking at him or pummeling him, his usual response is steely silence. When he deigns to speak, he does it in stabs.
Nearly one-third of all the character’s lines in the new movie consist of a single word, according to a Journal tally.
One action sequence in a sea of complex ones, however, managed to keep Stahelski “up at night.” The director reportedly found the battle at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe “particularly tough.” Rather than closing down the frenetic and congested traffic circle around the city’s magnificent 1806 triumphal arch, these particular scenes required a massive battle in which Wick, several leading bad guys, a squad of henchmen and several trained stunt dogs fight across speeding ongoing traffic.
“There’s no easy scene. There’s no easy days,” explained Stahelski. “It’s just how creative you get with problem-solving. But, logistically, the trickiest one was obviously the Arc de Triomphe. You can’t just hope the dog doesn’t get hit by a bus and hope your leads don’t get run over.”
Referring to the sequence as a “nice stress attack,” Stahelski revealed the complexities that audiences don’t see.
“What people forget is, it’s not just the actors and stunt people. I’ve got two camera crews in the middle of that traffic” explained the director. “ I’ve got 50 stunt drivers from all over the world with five different languages. We’re kind of rehearsing as we go because you just can’t afford to have 300 cars in rehearsal four months out, so everybody’s rehearsed in pieces, and then, on the day, you have to put all those pieces together, and then you really have to have faith that you can pull this off.”
In a recent interview with IndieWire, Rogers breaks down Reeves’ role in bringing the exceptional John Wick: Chapter 4 sequence to life. Considering Reeves would be doing most of his own driving for this sequence behind the wheel of a 500-horsepower muscle car, the actor was actually paired with professional race car driver Tanner Foust in order to hone his skills. Much of this training and the crafting of the specifics of the sequence actually took place about a year in advance of filming, in keeping with Stahelski’s adherence to long prep times.
But the success of “John Wick: Chapter 4” adds to a strong start in 2023 for Hollywood. After ticket sales rebounded to about 67% of pre-pandemic levels last year, the release lineup is steadier and more packed this year. Sequels have led the way, including “Creed III” and “Scream VI.” Ticket sales are up 28% from last year, according to data firm Comscore.
But there have been some exceptions. After its disappointing $30.5 million debut last weekend, the superhero sequel “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” slumped to second place with $9.7 million in its second weekend. The Warner Bros. release dropped steeply, tumbling 68% from its launch.
The possibility of a fifth also comes in a world in which many actors have seemingly retired from roles, only to come back.
Notes Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore: “Many a boxer, rock band and star athlete has announced retirement only to have a change of heart, so while the most beloved and legendary hitman’s future is shall we say inconclusive, it would be unwise to count John Wick out at this point and given the incredible success of this latest installment, it’s beyond obvious that fans around the world are not ready to say au revoir to the great Baba Yaga. Nor should the studio.”
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