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Director Chad Stahelski Says Extra Time Due To Pandemic Has Helped Creatively With John Wick 4

May 30, 2020 | Posted by Joseph Lee
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Image Credit: Lionsgate

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Chad Stahelski gave an update on John Wick 4, and how the delay due to Keanu Reeves shooting The Matrix 4 (which itself was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic) has helped them creatively with the sequel. Here are highlights:

On John Wick 4: “Obviously, the Wicks aren’t formulaic or anything like that, so it takes a little while to kind of come up with the thematics we want to do and how nutty and subversive we want to be on storytelling. So, it’s been a lot of back and forth to really try and crack what we want to do with the next John Wick. There’s so many ideas to go with, between the action design, the set pieces and where we would want to shoot all that stuff. So, that’s been good for us. Time is always good when you’re in development. I’m fortunate enough to not have to run into the danger of too much time on anything I’ve done, so this has been nice to try and figure things out. What ideas survive the next day test. I like thematics. Obviously, you can see the influences of the old Westerns and the old Samurai films. All the Arthurian tales for chivalry and all that kind of stuff, back to that. We had a couple of overlapping thematics, and I stripped it down to the bare essentials. And there were two action sequences that we had really kind of conceived, but we just didn’t have room for them. So, we pulled them from the movie. And I’d like to think that 90 percent of what I pulled, there’s a place in John Wick 4 that I can definitely reinsert them.”

On The Matrix 4: “First of all, creatively, Lana’s one of the most unique people I’ve ever worked with in the industry. Just a fantastic mind. She’s a great director who loves to direct her own action. I mean, with her, you never discuss an action sequence. It’s the sequence. You hear me say it all the time; you probably hear Dave Leitch say it all the time. Action and story don’t cut; they don’t separate. So you have somebody like Lana, who’s going, “We’re going to do this and this and this.” She’s got some really great ideas. She knows the visual style. She knows what she’s trying to say in the sequence. She wants to collaborate and see how high you can take it in collaboration. So, to answer your question, she comes with this idea. She comes with this set piece. She comes with, ‘This is the character. This is what’s happening. This is the conflict. This is where I need him to be emotionally or psychologically or whatever plot-wise at the end of this sequence. What do you got in your bag of tricks to make it absolutely crazy?’ And that’s where we bring in the stunt guys and our choreographers. It’s literally just day after day of bouncing ideas off of each other. What’s the bigger, better, cooler thing? How do we help Lana achieve what she’s trying to do with whatever visual concept she’s trying to mold? She’s one of those great people that she’ll tell us something and we’ll say, ‘Okay, we’ve got this.’ Then she’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s awesome. I didn’t think of that, but what if we took this and made it this?’ She always kind of one-ups you and that’s a challenge. (Laughs.) She’s probably still the most challenging person, in a good way, that I’ve ever worked with because she’s always taking your ideas and going, ‘Okay, how do we make it better?’”

On the Highlander reboot: “We don’t want to do a remake. We don’t want to do a reinvention. We want to do something that’s fresh, that utilizes the mythology of what everyone loves from the first movie. To make a good film is hard, to make a great film is even harder. We choose challenging projects in trying to be new and diverse — at least something that the audience hasn’t exactly seen our way yet. So, time is always a good thing, but I think I have a knack for picking projects that aren’t easy to develop.”