By now, you know the John Wick franchise as one of Hollywood's biggest, most blood-pumping action franchises. The Keanu Reeves-starring features are known for their expansive gun-fu and the dozens of henchmen killed on-screen. As it turns out, the movies weren't always planned that way. In fact, Wick helmer Chad Stahelski tells us the earliest iteration of the script only had a handful of deaths.
As Stahelski puts it, only three people were killed in the original script prior to his involvement. Once he boarded the project, the action sequences eventually evolved to the point of hour-long blood baths.
"I think he [Reeves] sent it to me on a Friday and I read it maybe that day and thought about it over the weekend," Stahelski tells ComicBook.com. "It was much more contained. I think only three people died in the original script, two were in a car crash. It was very, very minimal, and it was slightly different. I read it, and I'd always had this idea about Greek mythology and how to tell more a fablestic kind of story, make a surreal action movie so it wasn't so grounded and gray, just something different."
If you go back and rewatch John Wick and try keeping count of Wick's kills, you'll end up somewhere around 80. That kill count then ballooned up to 128 in John Wick: Chapter 2 before decreasing back down to 94 in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. As Stahelski tells us, he and his team have never intentionally discussed increasing the kill count for the movies.
"People joke about it [the kill count], but the way I choreograph with my guys and stuff, we just choreograph motion and set pieces and we try to get this balletic kind of dance, live performance feel to everything," the helmer adds. "It's just when you shoot people in the head, they can't get back up so you can reuse a stunt guy. Every time Keanu moves, he does two half circles. He's killed five guys. So I got to keep using more and more stunt guys."
He concludes, "I think, just by nature, because Keanu's gotten so much better with the choreography and the martial arts and the motion and we change weapons so much and we get bigger set pieces, that, just by its very nature, because the scene grows, the body count grows. But we don't start off going, 'Okay, what was in number three? How do we beat it for number four?' We just choreograph and it happens."
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is now streaming on Hulu.