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The entire John Wick franchise is a love letter to a bygone era of practical action filmmaking. Led by stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 2 admirably carried that tradition forward earlier this year with an exhilarating sequel that managed to blow away all of our (already lofty) expectations. That said, despite the sheer amount of practical effects and stunt work present in the movie, certain feats still required some movie magic. I recently chatted with John Wick stunt driver Joe Dryden about this, and he explained that the film's opening warehouse chase required dummies and CGI because an awesome motorcycle crash simply proved too dangerous. Dryden said:
The shot in the warehouse chase, where John Wick opens his door and the motorcycle hits it and goes flying over the top of it. That was one that I argued to do practically. I wanted to do it really badly, but it was just sort of talked about, and the location and the circumstances were just better for us to actually use a dummy. So they put a dummy on the bike, and they towed the dummy into the door, and then they did layer that with a bit of CGI just to kind of clear it up. So yeah, that was one that I had really wanted to do, and [stunt coordinator] Darrin [Prescott] for a minute, we had him on board, and then they just kind of decided that for everybody's health and safety and also for time and everything that it would be easier just to do it that way.
Let's make one thing abundantly clear: John Wick: Chapter 2 is an incredibly violent film that does not skimp on chaos or carnage. To accommodate that mission statement, Chad Stahelski, his star and his stunt crew needed to show as much bodily harm as humanly possible. However, throwing a stuntman from a bike, over the door of a moving car and face first into the pavement is too dangerous for even the most seasoned professionals. In the end, common sense won out in this particular scene, and the motorcycle crash stands as one of the few Chapter 2 stunts that Keanu Reeves or the stunt crew couldn't perform -- although Dryden made sure to hammer home the point that he wanted to give it a try before they opted against it.
For a closer look at the stunt in question, check out the aforementioned warehouse chase scene from John Wick: Chapter 2 below!
At the end of the day, I think we can forgive the production of John Wick: Chapter 2 for taking the safe way out on this one particular stunt. The rest of the film feels packed to the brim with innovative choreography and remarkable stunt work. It's abundantly clear just how much everyone involved cared about keeping the film as practical as possible at every turn. From the hall of mirrors chase to Keanu Reeves' cringe-inducing pencil fight, it's all gold. I don't know much, but I already know that this flick will almost certainly go down in the annals of action movie history.