By Liz Lopez
In 2014, the hit film “John Wick” screened during Fantastic Fest here in Austin and I had the golden and memorable opportunity to meet the film’s star, Keanu Reeves. The film directed by Chad Stahelski (the stunt double for Reeves’s in “The Matrix” movies) is based on the screenplay written by Derek Kolstad and the characters he created. If you missed “John Wick” at the festival or while it was subsequently in theaters, it is available on DVD/Blu-ray and digital options for viewing. While not absolutely necessary, it is great idea to view it in anticipation of the sequel, “John Wick: Chapter 2” that will be opening in theaters this weekend. The new production has writer Derek Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski team up again to provide a very satisfying sequel that is worth viewing more than once.
I was provided the opportunity recently to join a group of journalists to talk with Chad Stahelski about his work on “John Wick: Chapter 2.” Before anyone jumped into asking the first question, the director snapped up the opportunity to ask us all to provide him with what was our favorite scene from the film. When it came to my turn, I told him all of them. Chad Stahelski: “That’s a good answer!”
The questions turned towards the various actors in the sequel, especially Laurence Fishburne.
Chad Stahelski: Yes, Laurence and Keanu team up together again. The Bowery King was written with Laurence in mind. Keanu went to him about it and Laurence said he wanted to be in the movie. One month later we are on filming the rooftop. (The director shared that he was “geeking out” at this time.)
The conversation turned toward the making of this sequel. He did address about going bigger for this film, yet it’s not necessarily always better, as far as being creative.
Chad Stahelski: It depends on how it is done. You don’t want to spend money to hide anything. The question is to do it better and learn more. We went with a more TV mentality to go deeper (into the story).
The question arose about the process for the stunts and he shared some thoughts.
Chad Stahelski: They start out as conceptual; for the tone and vibe you want to get. We wanted to get a new audience in. Started this one with John Wick getting his car back; he is angry, compulsive, obsessive and he is going to hit cars. The stunt fighters will get the stunt coordinated and determine how to hit, how many times, etc.
We also discussed the inside shots and use of art in the film. The director shared that he grew up in the 80s with an appreciation for art and Jackie Chan films.
Chad Stahelski: Regarding the art, there is a scene in front of artwork about the Italian Civil War. He went from wide to close, a geometric progression of shots. He added that this takes a lot of planning, having to plan about six months out.
I asked him if he could cite one thing that was challenging for this production?
Chad Stahelski: Being original and entertaining. Step in the footprints, then step outside – be a little crazy. Try to impress yourself and then impress others.
What can you tell us about a John Wick 3?
Chad Stahelski: When the second was written, it ended up nice with a lot of ideas. An outline was developed and it is currently in development.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is now playing in theaters.