Action cinema has developed so much over the past thirty years that it’s sometimes hard to think of what more can be done with the genre. While stuntmen have been doing amazing work for decades, the advent of CGI has massively increased the scope for wild, unbelievable action to the extent that there’s nothing that can’t be realised on screen, one way or another. How do you impress an audience who has already seen everything?
Thankfully there are still movies and filmmakers pushing the boundaries of action cinema, as the John Wick franchise proves. The first movie in 2014, while smaller in scale than the next two films, still delivered some of the most exciting action since Gareth Evans’ Raid movies. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch got every cent from the relatively modest budget (reportedly less than $30 million) on screen, and made sure that the action was varied, inventive, and beautifully shot. The movie gave star Keanu Reeves another action hit, and the film quickly gained a cult following.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) was bigger and bolder, both in terms of its scope and its action. Leich was gone, but Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad returned, taking us further into the franchise’s mysterious criminal underworld. By this point, Stahelski had coined a phrase for his brand of action–“gun-fu”–taking influence from legendary filmmakers such as John Woo, Sergio Leone, and Akira Kurosawa, and giving it his own twist. The movie was not afraid to get weird either, with a number of scenes that stick in the mind for both their sheer audacity as well as the insane body counts.
The third movie, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, is now in theaters. This one goes even further with the action, throwing horses, dogs, knives, and swords in alongside the more familiar gunfights and martial arts showdowns. Stahelski has already spoken about a fourth part, and while it’s hard to imagine how Chapter 3 can be topped, he’ll no doubt find a way. So here’s our look at every single action scene in the John Wick series to date. And of course, there are big spoilers for all three movies ahead…