‘John Wick’ Creators Made Action Sequences Extra Hard for ‘Matrix’ Star Keanu Reeves On Purpose

With Keanu Reeves seemingly working on the new The Matrix sequel and another sequel to John Wick at the same time, they may look like they could blend into one another. Perhaps it feels that way for Reeves while filming, despite reports of stunt skills for each being quite different.

It turns out when he decided to take on the John Wick franchise, Reeves was challenged into doing different stunts from what he learned in The Matrix movies. One would think this is impossible since The Matrix required nearly every physical skill in the book.

Reeves ultimately had to learn all-new things, likely to help better distinguish John Wick from being mistaken as a Matrix knockoff.

Learning new martial arts for the ‘John Wick’ movies

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According to Collider, the director/choreographers of the John Wick franchise (Chad Stahelski and David Leitch) wanted to give Reeves something new to learn in the realm of fight scenes.

Stahelski and Leitch were stunt doubles in The Matrix movies, so they were already aware of what Reeves had done. And it was exhausting physical work, including the actor going through some major pain at one point. Due to past compressed and shattered discs in his back, Reeves almost became partially paralyzed for a while until having neck surgery to fix the issue.

Nevertheless, it never prevented him from taking on more cinematic challenges. Rather than make it easier for him, Stahelski and Leitch reportedly had Reeves learn some different martial arts moves than learned in The Matrix.

Because some moviegoers could connect the two franchises together too easily, having Reeves learn jiu jitsu and “gun fu” gave him a larger skill set.

A look at “gun fu” used in the ‘John Wick’ movies

Not everyone may have familiarity with gun fu, a martial arts skill not new to movies. The definition of this martial art move is “a blend of gunplay and kung fu”, something originated in movies made in Hong Kong.

Gun fu is not seen too often in American films of late, so it was a brilliant idea of Stahelski and Leitch above to incorporate it into John Wick. It definitely is no picnic to learn, though, which meant a lot of time for Reeves learning the maneuver.

Along with this, standard jiu jitsu moves were utilized, something seen in past American movies like Lethal Weapon. Using the combination of that and gun fu managed to give the John Wick movies their own action style.

Neither one of the above moves were ever incorporated into The Matrix movies, other than extensive mixed martial arts moves. What fans probably want to know now is whether John Wick 4 (and 5) will take things even further, giving Reeves an action movie workout like never before.

Can Keanu Reeves top himself at the age of 56?

Keanu Reeves at a 'Semper Fi' screening
Keanu Reeves at a ‘Semper Fi’ screening | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Most fans of Reeves admit he does not look his real age. He turns 56 this September 2, which is considered beyond the typical age for action stars. Yet, there he is doing two of the most physically demanding movies arguably ever done.

At the moment, Reeves is in Berlin, Germany filming Matrix 4 and John Wick 4/5 where he recently praised the safety measures being put in place due to COVID-19. How he goes about his stunts is still unknown, something possibly proving difficult due to social distancing measures.

Because each of these films will probably step up from what was done prior, the kind of action skills Reeves has to learn this time might be overly taxing. Unless, for once, the films allow some CGI to help give Keanu Reeves’ vertebrae a bit of a break.