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August 28, 2019

30 Seconds of Wick Chapter 10: Gunplay (52:00-52:30)

Well, Iosef made it upstairs and out another door. He’s about to miss out on one of the most chaotic, innovative and interesting fight scenes ever captured on film.

It is a seamless integration of gunplay, physicality from both the star and the stunt team, hand-to-hand and realism.

People RELOAD THEIR WEAPONS.

The second floor of the nightclub is all padded columns and bright white light, a stark contrast from the rotating red/green/blue/purple of the dance floor.

52:06 Wick emerges into the space from a dark blue lit corridor, gun out and head on a swivel. That exit point would have been the ideal ambush spot. People need to learn these things when it comes to Wick.

I’m going to miss things here, in this thirty seconds, in this fight. It’s fast moving and information dense. My personal expertise is not with guns (I have a license, I am a good target shooter, I understand the dynamics of gun fighting — it’s just not where I’m an expert) and I’m not fetishistically going to get into details about who’s using what gun and how many shots are fired compared to magazine size. Anyone wishing that level of detail I strongly recommend perusing the Internet Movie Firearms Database (imfdb.org). I did get advice from several people with extensive firearms training and I’d like to thank @zee_zok on Twitter in particular for the advice.

I said about John Wick 2 a few years after this movie was made (John Wick 3 just came out as I write these blogs) “That’s how you bring a knife to a gun fight”.

Here, in John Wick, is how you align hand to hand combat with gunplay in what appears to be how a ‘professional’ would do it. I was advised by aforementioned experts that Wick holds and brandishes his guns like a person with preternatural understanding of aim, as though he always knows exactly where the muzzle is pointed, where the bullet will go.

On a side note a large number of the stunt team Wick is about to slaughter here are in red shirts, which I know is because the club is called “The Red Circle” but I cannot help think is a sly and clever pop culture reference.

Wick goes through four redshirts in eight second (52:07-52:15), one of whom he trip/throws onto his back before shooting in a decidedly pissy manner, I assume because that guy actually got a hand on his gun. The fluidity of this sequence is breathtaking, with very few edits, mostly in long or medium long POV and a total commitment (zero hesitations) from Keanu Reeves.

The next redshirt also gets a hand on Wick and is so close the first bullet fired at him flashes past his head. There is a brief exchange where in Wick punches the man in the upper chest with the muzzle of his gun, a move I recall making me sit up and yelp in awe when I first saw it. So obvious. So brutal. So nothing I’d seen before.

Redshirt staggers into a column and Wick brings up the gun for his head shot.

It clicks empty.

The camera reverses, from over Wick’s shoulder to face on as he flicks the empty mag out, deftly reloads, cocks the gun and hits that head shot. Every motion is exact, precise, smooth and calm. There is no attempt to “make it look cool”, no extreme close ups or weird camera moves. It’s in real time (52:18-52:20). Just Keanu, his hands and a steady wide shot. The amount of effort that everyone on this movie put into these scenes makes my heart sing.

Two more redshirts go down, charging through doorways (I said those were good ambush points) and we’re going to get to end on something like a visual joke, if anything in this bloodbath can be funny.

One redshirt has taken refuge behind a padded leather column. Wick is on the other side of that column. And as they both whip from side to side, trying to figure out which way their opponent is going to move Wick sees the toe of one shiny shoe peeking out.

I admit I laughed like crazy there.

What can you do? You have to take that shot. And then the next two to chest and head as that particular redshirt lurches out from behind the column.

52:30 is here and Wick kicks that last redshirt through a set of doors, into the next set piece of this sequence — which pulls the action more firmly into my wheelhouse and the integration of hand to hand, wrestling and gunplay.

Next up Chapter 11: Bringing BJJ to a Gun Fight