How they filmed those insane John Wick Chapter 4 stunts

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Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

After the previous 3 films it was a challenge to the film makers of Chapter 4 just how to up the ante for John Wick and yet they have managed it with some astonishing sequences. So here’s how they filmed those insane John Wick Chapter 4 stunts

The Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin serves as the exterior of the Berlin nightclub where John Wick confronts and battles Killa. For the interiors, the filmmakers built a multi-story set featuring extensive practical water and fire effects inside the partially open interior of the three-story Kraftwerks Building. The nightclub set took up the massive interior of the former industrial space. “The sets are insane!” says Lee, with a laugh. “It’s the largest set we’ve ever done for the John Wick films, with massive amounts of water and incredible fighting through walls of water.”

A team of 35 stunt performers worked alongside 200 background extras for over two weeks filming the sequence, which features shifting allegiances and perpetual motion. “The club was insane, we had a mass amount of extras intermixed with stunts performing complicated choreography,” echoes visual effects supervisor Jonathan Rothbart. “Adding in all the additional effects and extensions was extremely complex, as we had lights spinning in perpetual motion coming from different sources in different directions at all times.”

 

Wick’s race to Paris Sacré Coeur, where his duel with the Marquis will take place, turns into an all-out demolition derby with guns as he first takes the wheel of a banged up but lethal muscle car, and then runs the gauntlet across Paris, with hundreds of killers out to stop him. Reeves trained for nine months to develop his driving skills, which impressed everyone on set, including his director. “There’s no actor in Hollywood that can drive better than Keanu,” Stahelski says. “That’s how much time he put into his training.”

With multiple cars moving at top speeds, the sequence evolves into close quarter combat with guns, in the street, among the racing vehicles. “This gun fight is in the middle of the traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe,” explains Reeves. Since it was logistically impossible to close the six to eight lanes of the roundabout around the massive monument on the Champs-Elysees for several weeks, filmmakers came up with a clever solution. “We worked at a non-operational airport in Berlin, Tegel,” Reeves continues. “We did the wire work on the tarmac, and gunfights and judo through several lanes of traffic. We’ve had gun-fu in the previous films, and now we have car-fu.”

 

Another large-scale action set piece in the John Wick Chapter 4 stunts catalogue with a unique style explodes in a French apartment building, with much of the action captured by an extended “god’s eye view” looking down on the action from above. “It’s something we’ve never seen before onscreen,” says France stunt coordinator / fight choreographer Laurent Demianoff. “The first step was to shoot it from a camera mounted on a drone.”

 

Most of the Bowery King’s scenes were shot under Paris, in the St. Martin Canal, which flows beneath the city; Metro Porte des Lilas subway station; and in a never-before-filmed bomb shelter. Production had to put in special air ventilation and employ 80 cleaners for two weeks to safely work in the subterranean space, located deep underneath the most modern part of Paris. “To be in Paris occupying spaces in the underworld of the city, well, it doesn’t really get any better,” says Fishburne. “Chad has somehow managed to take a little bit of Kurosawa, a little bit of Sergio Leone, mash it up, and put it in the City of Light.”

As Wick continues his odyssey across Paris, toward his fateful showdown with the Marquis, he battles through scores of enemies as he attempts to climb a long, long staircase. He must attempt the ascension more than a few times, as he is pushed back and tumbles down them, only to rise and begin anew. Wick has only 13 minutes to somehow get through this seemingly impenetrable wall of skilled assassins determined to stop him. “We did one of the world’s longest stair falls down all 300 steps,” shares Dunlevy. “It’s a steep staircase with railings down the middle, drop offs on one side, and ramps with trees on the other side; there was so much to play with stunt-wise.”

 

It’s nothing less than an opera of insanity, which thrillingly sets up on the climactic duel – during which Stahelski slows things down and lets tension and anticipation set the tone. “There’s nothing more personal than a duel to settle disputes,” says the director. “In a world where there seems to be no escape for John, we wanted to show action in a slower way and deal with the emotional resonance. We go back to the core of the films: one man against another, with something huge at stake. “It’s something Wick must earn,” he continues. “It’s also a nod to some of my favourite westerns.”

Related feature : John Wick 3 : Parabellum blu-ray disc review

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