Keanu Reeves is back.
The film follows Reeves as Wick, a deadly assassin – he’s described in the film as the killer they call to kill the bogeyman – in retirement who loses his wife, dog and car all in the span of a few days, bringing him out of retirement, to the detriment of anyone and everyone who crosses his path. The character’s true nature is never in doubt in the film.
“He’s a total badass,” Winters said.
Reeves saw in the character something of a classic action hero.
“He’s a mythical assassin, but he’s put that all away for love,” Reeves said.
Wick isn’t the only hardboiled character in the film, as Palicki’s character, Miss Perkins, goes toe-to-toe with him in one of the film’s kinetic action sequences. The character was originally written as a male assassin, but the role was changed and expanded for Palicki.
“Miss Perkins is such a badass she doesn’t even have a first name,” Palicki said. As for shooting a four-minute hand-to-hand combat scene with Reeves, “There were lots of wayward elbows and knees. I probably hit him in the testicles more than once, he rolled on my head a couple times. Who gets to say that? It was kind of awe-inspiring.”
“John Wick” is the directorial debut for Stahelski and Leitch, though only technically, as the two have been working as second-unit directors and action sequence directors for years. While they said they felt well–prepared for the new title, they understood the added responsibility.
“You have the whole movie to take care of, not just one scene,” Leitch said. “(You have to) keep the tone in editorial, keep the tone on set. Know the movie that you’re going to make.”
Their stunt and action experience paid off, said Winters, who said they brought a practical sense of reality to action sequences that’s often lost with green screen and special effects.
“It was like a front row seat to watching just incredible, incredible filmmaking,” Winters said. “This was just straight up in your face, not computerized, old school stunts. I really felt like I was in the front row of like a master class.”
Because the film’s plot is driven by the loss of John Wick’s dog, and to a lesser extent, his car, the cast reflected on what might send them into a Wick-style, no-holds-barred rampage if they lost it.
“My dog is my child,” Palicki said. “I would kill everyone, I don’t care. I would burn down the world.”
“My hair,” Winters said.
The party moved to Teddy’s at the Roosevelt Hotel after the screening, with the cast and crew joining guests including Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes.
From Summit Entertainment and Thunder Road Pictures, “John Wick” opens Oct. 24.
(Pictured: Dean Winters, Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki and Chad Stahelski at the L.A. screening of “John Wick”)