The summer movie season will remain blurred after the triumphant arrival of John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum. If ever a movie could be a microphone drop, it's the last chapter of the new killing machine and enthusiast of everyone's favorite dog, John Wick. The sequel has it all, starting with another Keanu Reeves performance that leaves a big mark in pop culture.
director Chad Stahelski attributes the success of the franchise to Reeves, with whom he has been working since Matrix. When Stahelski says that the actor is giving him all the frames of the film, nobody could question it. Reeves brings credibility to the poetic and ridiculous action, a sincerity to the drama and a powerful presence and sense of belonging to the role. In the hands of another actor, John Wick, as we have come to know and love him, it would not be John Wick.
During our extensive interview with Stahelski after the biggest opening of the franchise at the box office, he told us why audiences connect with Reeves as Wick, how he always bet on beauty in his films, how he takes action, and more.
Telling the stories of John Wick in chapters instead of a trilogy, what kind of freedom does that give you? Is it less restrictive?
If you are familiar with any of the other films, we try to tell stories a little differently than having a movie based on an argument or a trio. We often joke that we have two acts: man and mission. I'm a big fan of Kurosawa's stuff, I'm a big fan of Sergio Leone, who instead of planning is more about the trip. You follow a week in the life of a murderer, and John Wick takes you through our world.
Instead of doing all this mbadive arc of characters, we try to stay on the subject, and it's about pain and consequences, so it's really where the conversation starts. What are our options? What would John Wick really do? What would we do if we were John Wick? What is normal? Try turning it around and reacting as if you were really in the story. This is how we get the endings we do and how we get John's motivation. That's where it really is about dealing with that.
Since they are chapters, it is not a third film that needs to be closed, he is dying or he finds peace and lives in a cabin. But it was considered another ending at one point, right? What was it?
We are talking about back to development. Nothing that was actually written. But originally, we were trying to break the timeline, and there's a little joke behind the scenes, we did not have any other plan that was not a movie at a time. When we did John Wick 1. My colleague, Dave Leitch and I, thought that was the end. We'll be lucky if we can get a management job again. We did Chapter Two, and it was the same, so Keanu and I said, "We'll never work again."
While in Chapter Three, we say, "Oh, it's okay." We just see it as "Well, the guy has made this trip incredible." He killed hundreds of people. There is no way for this guy to leave at sunset. It will not be a happy ending. "There will be a final and moments of lightness, but any comedy is a tragedy, any tragedy is a comedy, depending on where you look at the end point, and then we said," It's fine. Where is the only exit that this guy can go?
When we begin to conceive number three, we say: "Look, friend, you can not beat the high table, you can not overcome karma, you can not beat fate." Now, in how it ends, there are remnants of our idea in the speech with Winston in the glbad house. You know, it's not about who you choose to live, but who you choose to die for. And that was the issue where we were going to try to finish the film with John Wick's choice of not who wants to live like him, but who wants to die, and wants to die as someone honorable, someone that his wife can be. proud of.
With the end, I like to think that I'll be the one who was once, the old John Wick. For you and Keanu Reeves, who was old John Wick?
In the first film, when he enters the bathhouse, they were the remains of who John Wick was before he met his wife. Someone who, either purposely or by mistake, tried to live his life with that coldness and hardness, that determination to carry out a task, instead of filling it with love and pbadion. Yes, he has been living in all of us. How does it fill your day with love and hate, hate and remorse, or is it hope, courage and honor? It's all those many things mixed in a very simplistic journey of a guy to find who he is. You can see all the mirrors and reflections, so there will always be a certain level of duality.
John Wick before now is probably a very empty person inside, too. Much conversation, many things in the mind, but an empty heart. After that, he has experience and has something that they are jealous of, but you get a common consequence, and you can not realize that. When we start in the first movie, I'm sure he's very conflicted about who he is or who he should be. So, hopefully, the John Wick that you see at the end of the third movie, is a completely new character that you saw at the beginning, the middle or the end of either of the first two movies.
You feel the blows you get in this movie. The brutality has a bit more sting, like the knife in the eye or something more subtle like a dancer who flakes the toenail. What made you want to go a little harder with the violence?
I understand that, and I totally see where you come from. I have been doing choreography for a long time, and I do not want to say that it seems dehumanizing or that I am insensitive, there are levels of cinematographic violence that I do not want to experience. I also have my limits. The action in the movie, I'm not really looking at that. I'm not looking for blood, I'm not looking for shock value, I'm not even looking for a psychological torment. I'm just looking, well, a guy is stabbed in the eye because he's frail. Any type of special forces, law enforcement, military know that head shots are very, very frequent in the current work with weapons. So, we only do what normal people do real. You run out of bullets, shoot people in the head. So we try to do that.
If you get into a knife, fight with your head, neck, throat, things you do not really see in movies, those are legitimate goals and those are things they do, so we just do that. We were not aware of trying to elevate ourselves in terms of violence; we just choreographed and then we generated the effects and consequences of what we choreographed.
As for the theater of pain and the nail of the foot, that is my Nietzsche that comes out. Our pain, life is suffering, I believe it totally. One hundred percent believe that. I'm a big fan of Nietzsche. I believe in Joseph Campbell, the fractured hero, put the guy in a theater of pain. The more you hit, you feel that John is paying for what he is doing. You can only shoot so many people. Because he does this, he is actually paying for it. Karma is returning the slap and that makes it more justifiable what we do with John.
In addition, it is a small tribute to many dance choreographers, such as Bob Fosse, to the ballet choreographers of whom I have a great influence. The choreography of martial arts for cinema is a hundred times more similar to dance than to competitive martial arts, combative martial arts. So, if you've ever been behind the scenes and watched the dancers train and watch the abuse, they are some of the toughest athletes on the planet in my mind. So, it's not just about the soft things on your toes: they're bading hardcore athletes and you just want to show what they're going through, and one of them broke his toenails. He is also a trained character to shoot, you are going to deal with the Russian Ruska Roma, the Russian gypsy mafia or badbadins or more, and that is the level of hardness that you are going to have.
It was the scWhat hello John is inspired by the childhood of Jackie Chan at the Beijing Opera School?
Yes, it is a good badogy. I have been told several times throughout the film. Great comparison Was he really inspired that way? I think it's a good comparison, I wish it were. I wish I was so smart.
[Laughs] Since this is his third film and his second sequel, what are the biggest logistical and creative challenges to make a successful sequel, especially with regards to Chapter Three?
There is logistics: how much money, how much time. We exchange money for time. You start with so many days and then, because you want to do New York and you want a glbad house, you begin to neutralize certain resources to put other places, and that's always a challenge, but it's certainly not the biggest. Each film goes through some logistical and programming frustration.
Basically we are creating an original property; It does not have a comic book or a book. Literally, Keanu and one of our department heads or one of our editorial team contribute ideas to build this world. It started small and we grew a bit, but there is a temptation to go back to what people laughed at first and bring back the same characters and make the same jokes. Play it safe, do the same kind of action and then there's the challenge of, can we do it better? Can we do something a little differently? They call it the curse of the sequel. They love the first film because it is original, but by its very nature, the sequel can not be original in the same way as the first because it is a sequel. [Laughs]. So, how do you become original, how do you keep the audience involved in what they love, and at the same time, show them something new? They want to see it again, but they do not want you to repeat it exactly. It is that fine line, and for any filmmaker who is making a sequel, either by his own originality or by getting into someone else's shoes or following someone else's shoes, that is probably the biggest challenge.
In fact, it scared me over and over again. There is not one of these where I've been literally feeling nauseous every day on the set. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Am I going too far away from the track by expanding this? And that's always the thing in a John Wick movie. There are no rules, but at the same time, you must keep it contained but still open. It is the strangest feeling that has been creatively created, and that is absolutely the biggest obstacle.
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