See the full extent of Keanu Reeves’ stunt training for John Wick: Chapter 2 ahead of the film’s home video release. From the very start, John Wick was all about its realistic action. The original film’s directors, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, are both former stuntmen with impressive resumes and brought everything they’d learned in their careers to their revenge thriller; following Keanu Reeves’ retired assassin as he hunted down a series of gangsters after the death of his dog, it was a masterclass in what is affectionately known as “gun-fu”.
What was most striking about John Wick was how, in contrast to most Western action movies, Stahelski and Leitch used long, sweeping takes to showcase just how much of it was real and in-camera. The ante was only upped for the sequel, Chapter 2. It was bigger and more brutal in almost every respect, including what it asked of Keanu Reeves.
A new, exclusive featurette from the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of John Wick 2 highlights the extensive training Reeves went through while prepping the film, which essentially saw him becoming a fully trained stuntman. You can watch the full clip above.
What’s most enlightening is how involved with designing the sequences Reeves was. In the words of Stahelski, “instead of just training an actor to do the choreography, we just made Keanu pretty much one of the choreographers – one of our stuntmen.” He learned how to do everything and then worked with the usual stunt team to craft the action – from fist-fights to endless headshots – to fit his style.
The way all involved talk, it sounds like there was even a degree of improvisation. Tough as it may have been for the actor, the effects of all this can be felt in the film; the fact that Reeves is actually there doing everything John can makes the combat infinitely more immediate and involving.
Of course, the fighting is actually only part of what John Wick has to offer. Across two movies, Stahelski and Reeves have constructed a mysterious New York underworld that operates in the hidden depths of the city with its own currency and provides a suitable backdrop to the stunts. Although a third film isn’t official yet, Chapter 2 definitely leads into one – if it happens, then Keanu is sure to push himself even further.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is out on Digital HD the 23rd and 4K, Blu-ray and DVD June 13th.