Remember when “True Detective” got everyone excited about the “oner?” The celebrated first season of Nic Pizzolatto’s crime drama caused a stir with its six-minute-long take of Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle fighting his way through a housing project. And even though the show was far from the first to include such an ambitious tracking shot, due to the popularity of “True Detective,” it seemed like every prestige drama and action movie suddenly had something similar — from Netflix’s “Daredevil” to James Bond himself.
But whereas other one-take shots had hidden cuts, “True Detective” did it for real — that makes it simultaneously much more impressive, and a little rougher than other attempts. If you watch McConaughey closely throughout, he throws a couple of punches that clearly don’t land. But because he’s in the midst of an unbroken shot, he has to keep going. The only way to fix that kind of thing would be with cuts. And it’s this kind of issue that Chad Stahelski and David Leitch were hoping to avoid with “John Wick.”
The pair had been looking to make the leap from stunt choreography to directing for some time. And once Keanu Reeves, who’d worked with Stahelski on “The Matrix,” showed them the “John Wick” script, they were convinced it was the movie they’d been looking for. And as veteran stuntmen, they were naturally keen to put their unique spin on the action. But with just 47 days on the production calendar — the first “John Wick” was made for $30 million or less — it would take some meticulous planning and ingenuity to get what they needed in time.