Breaking Down John Wick 2‘s Opening Car Chase: ‘Keanu Is a Great Driver’
John Wick: Chapter 2 stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott shows us how the magic happens.
The John Wick franchise is a heartwarming tale about a happy-go-lucky man, his puppy, and his prized 1969 Ford Mustang. Alright, not quite. But it is true that Wick's Mustang plays a central role in the series' story, despite spending most of the first movie locked up by an evil gang of Russians. There's a lot more vehicular mayhem in the second installment, and it turns out Keanu Reeves himself was in the driver's seat for much of the action.
John Wick: Chapter 2 stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott sat with Vanity Fair to break down the movie's opening scene, in which the "retired" assassin rescues his beloved Mustang (either a Boss 429 or a Mach 1, depending on who you ask) from a warehouse chop shop in a slidey, crash-packed car chase. According to Prescott, Keanu Reeves is "one of the best actor-drivers in the business," so it wasn't too hard for the stunt crew to make him look like a badass behind the wheel.
That doesn't mean it wasn't a lot of work, though. For several scenes, a stuntman drove the car from a roof-mounted cockpit so Reeves could focus on acting. Then there were complex tricks like the sweet jump-drift through a warehouse door, which took "7 or 8 takes" and destroyed at least one Mustang when a stunt driver clipped the steel door frame in midair.
But the shots of Wick ramming his Mustang into the various cars and taxis commandeered by other henchmen—those were mostly Reeves. Prescott notes that if you look closely, you'll see he doesn't have his thumbs wrapped around the steering wheel rim on impact. It's an old stuntman trick to avoid breaking them. Reeves previously told the Associated Press that during one reverse-smash take, he hit the other car so hard it ripped the steering wheel right off.
Check out the video to get the inside scoop on a few more stunts from the chase, including the open-door smash of a motorcycle-driving baddie and the J-turn takedown of crime boss Abram Tarasov. And for your consideration, here's the scene in full, sans commentary: