JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
A SEEMINGLY ROUTINE THRILLER BLEW UP INTO A BULLET-RIDDLED PHENOMENON. NOW KEANU REEVES IS BACK TO UP THE GUN-FU ANTE IN JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
The Keanu Reeves hit man hit has spawned a sequel. Chapter 3 sees him team up with his long-lost brother, Hampton.
here’s a scene in Taken 3 where Liam Neeson climbs over a fence. As crack CIA operative Bryan Mills, the actor jogs over to a parked car, scrabbles onto the roof and heaves himself over the eight-foot, chain-link fence before landing on someone’s lawn. The sequence lasts just six seconds, but is cut together from 15 separate shots of Neeson (and a swarthy stunt double) vanquishing the obstacle.
Quick cuts and clever angles, as much as bullets and bombs, have become the weapons of choice for modern action movies. Whether employed by Greengrass, Nolan or Taken 3’s Olivier Megaton, vertiginous camerawork can create powerful illusions: be it Jason Bourne taking out a dozen assailants in the blink of an eye, or an ageing spy clambering over a railing. Rapid-fire editing is jarring and disorientating, replicating the chaos of combat; the maelstrom of limbs savage and primal, sucking viewers into the fight. It is a tried and tested technique that has underpinned some of the most visceral fight sequences of the past decade.
“It’s also complete bullshit,” adds Chad Stahelski. And he should know. The director of John Wick: Chapter 2 is an accomplished martial artist with more black belts than a Reiss summer sale. A former fighting instructor, Stahelski is also a veteran stunt co-ordinator with more than 60 titles on his CV, including all three Matrix films. “Fast editing is cheating,” he continues. “You watch any of the great Hong Kong guys like Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee and it’s all wide shots. Why? Because you’re not watching pretend martial arts. You’re watching an extremely talented individual kick some ass.”
Empire is talking to Stahelski on the Brooklyn set of his trigger-happy revenge sequel, currently dressed to resemble the interior of a modern-art gallery. As if to illustrate his point, the director gives us a pointed look before he