With it being one of the most pivotal sequences in the franchise, cinematographer Dan Laustsen details the challenges in shooting John Wick: Chapter 4’s climactic shootout. After surviving a slew of hitmen sent by the Marquis de Gramont, Keanu Reeves’ eponymous protagonist arrives at the Sacré-Cœur for a duel against the villain’s substitute, Donnie Yen’s Caine, to earn his freedom from the High Table. Set against the rising Parisian sun, John and Caine succeed in fooling the Marquis to step in and be killed without violating any rules, though Wick seemingly succumbs to the wounds from the first few shots.
In honor of the movie’s Oscars campaign, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with Dan Laustsen to break down the filming of John Wick: Chapter 4. When asked about the sequel’s climactic shootout, the cinematographer recalled the Sacré-Cœur location being “the biggest challenge” to film, detailing how he and his team had to create the sunrise artificially while shooting it at night, despite everyone’s hesitation to do so. See what Laustsen shared below:
While inspired by a large variety of classics within the genre, the John Wick franchise has revolutionized the world of action movies in its own right. Whether coming from original co-director David Leitch and his production company 87North Productions or utilizing the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and its alumnus, filmmakers have taken a page out of the Reeves-led franchise’s playbook and delivering far more grounded set pieces and hand-to-hand combat for their movies than ever before. Everything from Leitch’s Bullet Train to the Bob Odenkirk-led Nobody to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow, Hawkeye and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings have acted as meaningful continuations of this trend.
But even with having a whole host of impressive set pieces across its four movies, John Wick: Chapter 4’s climactic duel is arguably the best in the franchise. The deliberate pacing of Wick and Caine’s steps paired with Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard’s emotional score and Laustsen’s cinematography capturing the sunrise in an epic fashion felt like the ultimate tribute to classic Westerns, especially that of Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. At the same time, the sequence featured many modern touches that kept it feeling fresh, including its wide angles for every shot to keep audiences on the edge for who actually was hit, and infusing brief respites of humor amid the drama.
The other major element making John Wick: Chapter 4’s climactic shootout the franchise’s best was it being the first proper showdown for Reeves’ eponymous character. The original movie did offer him something close as he fought Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo in a stylish rainy knife fight, only for Chapter 2 to see him take down Santino with little fanfare aside from the gallery shootout that preceded it, and Chapter 3 — Parabellum ending on an infamous cliffhanger that nearly killed Wick for good. Whether or not a John Wick 5 finds a way to revive Reeves for another outing, director Chad Stahelski and his team at least sent him off in an effectively emotional fashion.