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Few action films in recent memory have committed themselves to practical stunt work quite like John Wick: Chapter 2. Stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski's hyper-violent globetrotting adventure pulls out all of the stops when it comes to visceral thrills, and the movie's ability to deliver these thrills feels virtually peerless. However, just because a stunt looks good doesn't necessarily mean it was easy to pull off. I recently chatted with John Wick stunt driver Joe Dryden about this, and he admitted that a portion of the film's opening motorcycle chase was easily the hardest aspect of the shoot. Dryden elaborated:
The opening sequence in Chapter 2 is actually me on the motorcycle and I'm getting chased down by John Wick and that was the most difficult sequence that I have ever done in my life. So it was a really big timing move. It starts with the Russian arm with the camera on it and its looking up at a building where they projected an old action movie with, I think there was a car crash in it, and then panned down and what they wanted -- Darrin had this idea that was to just catch me already mid crash. So the bike has already been laid down, and myself and the bike are sliding into the intersection where we had to stop at a certain mark, and then pick the bike up. And then, as I'm getting on the bike, Jeremy Fry, who was John Wick's driving double, comes sliding in behind me and he's basically playing like a little game of cat and mouse. At this point, he's kind of showing that he's far superior to me, so just for timing and just the whole shot and the location and everything that we did, it was an unbelievable task and it took probably nine takes for us to actually get it all completely correct.
For those of you who don't know, nine takes for a sliding motorcycle stunt is a lot of takes. This chase is the first action scene in the entire film (and it's the very first scene in the movie altogether), so the crew wanted to make sure that they could get it right. Dryden slid the motorcycle again and again and again, and eventually they managed to get a proper, uninterrupted shot of him running for the bike, getting back on the motorcycle and speeding off as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) follows in pursuit. It's a brilliant way to open such an intense action flick, so I think I speak for all of us when I say that I am glad they made sure to get it right.
Check out the opening chase below to see the finished version of that daring John Wick: Chapter 2 stunt for yourself!
Of course, while the crew ultimately managed to nail most of the stunts and pull off several more badass maneuvers along the way, they couldn't do everything practically. Elsewhere in my conversation with Joe Dryden about John Wick: Chapter 2's stunts, he explained that a later motorcycle stunt (where a rider flies over the open door of Mr. Wick's car and slams into the pavement) was deemed too dangerous to do practically. Thus, CGI and dummies were brought in. However, that's still one of the rare cases in which safety became too great of a concern, and the film ultimately stands as a genuine love letter to the work of adequately-trained stunt professionals.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is now available on Digital HD, 4K, Blu-ray and DVD. Pick up your copy today, and make sure to stay tuned for more information related to the next chapter in the legendary assassin's journey into the unknown! Check out our movie premiere guide for more details on the rest of this year's theatrical debuts!