In the lineup of the release of the highly anticipated John Wick: Chapter 4, one of the scenes that was widely discussed, and expected to be featured in 'best-scenes-of-the-year lists', turned out to be a one-take execution.
The scene in question was one where Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is seen dashing through multiple rooms in a building whilst he fired a “dragon’s breath” shotgun, which effectively set his targets on fire.
The scene’s grandness was compared to that of a video game, effectively matching the smooth execution and subsequent hype.
Speaking about the scene, John Wick 4 director Chad Stahelski and Reeves spoke to Collider about it.
The duo revealed that their plan for the fourth film was always to amp up the ante in a way that would still make it different from its predecessors.
"[W]e just thought, well, we trade off so much with the video game world, and we like so much of Asian cinema, so we wanna do a top shot. But it was, you know, most people don't do the top shots because you just look down at the floor and there's not a whole lot there. It's a black carpet or something," Stahelski said.
"So we started talking to the production designers and Dan [Laustsen] the cinematographer about how do we make this interesting, how to make it fun? And then we were doing our rabbit hole dive on all our weaponry and martial arts choreography and we forgot that we were gonna use the dragon's breath somewhere else in the movie.
"But we saw that, you know, from a top view, it had that beautiful muzzle flash and guys on fire. And we were like, ‘Ok we'll just paint the picture and rather than practical lighting, we'll do it with stunt guys on fire.’ And Dan was really excited about that. We’re gonna light the set with people on fire and the dragon's breath and give it that surreal kind of anime look."
Reeves also gave his point of view of the scene and shared that it was incredibly difficult to execute it as he had to learn the moves and reenact the choreography all in one take while making sure he was looking in the right direction and giving the right reactions.
"Because of the way that we use rounds, the technology, they're all plug guns, so nothing actually comes out of the barrel. So I don't get to see all that fire. It's all kind of post [production] fire. I get to hear the sound and get to see the shells eject. And yeah, so I get that little pop, pop, pop, but I don't get to see any.
"I saw some people on fire. […] I had to do all the choreography. Someone would count out loud because the sequence needed to sync with the camera on its fly system. So it was like '1, 2,' and you're like '3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.' And that would be the end of the take."