Keanu Reeves has been making headlines ever since the release of the fourth installment of the blockbuster John Wick franchise. The fourth sequel has been released after years of waiting. John Wick is one of the most popular action movie franchises and this has been made possible only because of its incredible action sequences and impressive body count. However, it may come as a surprise to fans to learn that the original script for the film was much less violent than what ended up on the screen.
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Keanu Reeves Starrer John Wick Franchise
John Wick is a highly acclaimed action-thriller film series that follows the story of a retired hitman named John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, who seeks revenge after the death of his dear dog. The movie is known for its unique and highly stylized action sequences, innovative world-building, and iconic portrayal of its lead character. The franchise is characterized by intense killing and a high body count. But as per the revelation made by the director of the franchise, Chad Stahelski, the first draft of the movie only had 3 kills initially unlike the released one which had 77 deaths.
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Chad Stahelski On the Low Body Count Of John Wick
Chad Stahelski revealed in an interview that initially, the body count in John Wick was significantly lower. The director of the franchise stated that the script had only 3 deaths. It’s tough to imagine a John Wick movie with such a low body count as the entire franchise is well known for its intense violence and deaths.
“I think he [Reeves] sent it to me on a Friday and I read it maybe that day and thought about it over the weekend. It was much more contained. I think only three people died in the original script, two were in a car crash. It was very, very minimal, and it was slightly different. I read it, and I’d always had this idea about Greek mythology and how to tell more a fablestic kind of story, make a surreal action movie so it wasn’t so grounded and gray, just something different.”
Stahelski revealed that he and his team were focused on building a good storyline, unbothered by the body count. He called out the people who made fun of the high toll of killings by Keanu Reeves’s character in the movie.
“People joke about it [the kill count], but the way I choreograph with my guys and stuff, we just choreograph motion and set pieces and we try to get this balletic kind of dance, live performance feel to everything. It’s just when you shoot people in the head, they can’t get back up so you can reuse a stunt guy. Every time Keanu moves, he does two half-circles. He’s killed five guys. So I got to keep using more and more stunt guys.”
The stuntman cum director added that the action scenes have been proportional to The Matrix star’s fighting skills. And as Reeves made himself better, the scenes became even more difficult, resulting in a higher body count in the movie.
“I think, just by nature, because Keanu’s gotten so much better with the choreography and the martial arts and the motion and we change weapons so much and we get bigger set pieces, that, just by its very nature, because the scene grows, the body count grows. But we don’t start off going, ‘Okay, what was in number three? How do we beat it for number four?’ We just choreograph and it happens.”
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The original script for John Wick was much less violent than the final product, but it’s clear that the decision to increase the body count was a smart one. The increased violence helped to make the film a hit and led to a successful franchise. With the high body count in past movies, it will be interesting to see this trend in the fourth sequel of the franchise.
John Wick: Chapter 4 was released on March 24, 2023, and is currently playing in theaters.