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'John Wick' producer on how the franchise's action set pieces act more like a 'Trojan horse'

It's never just action for action's sake.

By Josh Weiss
John Wick Chapter 4 LIONSGATE PRESS

The mind-boggling action set pieces in the John Wick franchise are never just action for action's sake.

Sitting down with Empire for the magazine's June 2023 issue (now on sale), longtime Wick producer David Leitch compared the balletic choreography to "a Trojan horse," in that the fight scenes are always meant to convey much more than just heart-pounding thrills. In other words, they must further the story as well as sustain viewer excitement.

"The choreography should aways have an obstacle and a handicap," said Leitch, who helmed the 2014 original alongside fellow stuntman turned director, Chad Stahelski. "In John Wick 4, we have a set piece at the Arc de Triomphe, but rather than just have characters driving around, we get them out to fight among the spinning vehicles."

RELATED: Strong and silent: Keanu Reeves cut dialogue to less than 400 words in 'John Wick: Chapter 4'

"We can erase pads and wires and make every stunt safer," added Stahelski, touching on how digital touch-ups in post-production are more of a help than a hinderance where modern day stunt work is concerned. "We're still trying to figure out the limitations."

Leitch (whose directorial resume also includes Atomic BlondeDeadpool 2, Bullet Train, and the upcoming Fall Guy) is the co-founder of 87North Productions, a Hollywood banner devoted to action-oriented projects like Nobody and Violent Night (now streaming on Peacock). The company — which Leitch runs with his wife and producing partner, Kelly McCormick — inked a multi-year partnership with Universal Pictures in 2019.

"I don't want to slow down," Leitch remarked last summer during an interview with Insider. "There are a lot of stories I want to tell and there's a lot of creativity still in me and I don't take this opportunity lightly. I try to make the most of it every day. So I think we just found the path to make fun, creative, bold movies."

John Wick: Chapter 4 is now playing in theaters everywhere. Click here to purchase tickets. The film — which currently holds an incredibly fresh score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (the highest of the entire series) — has made $316.3 million at the worldwide box office so far.

If you're not caught up on the story yet, head over to Peacock for the first three John Wick movies. The Continental, a limited series about the origins of the hotel at the center of the franchise premieres on the service in September. A spinoff movie, Ballerina, is slated to hit the big screen next summer.