‘John Wick’ cinematographer explains how to capture the best of Keanu Reeves

john wick
Image via Summit Entertainment

It goes without saying that Keanu Reeves is one of the greatest action stars of all-time, which comes with the territory when you’ve taken top billing in Point Break and Speed, along with The Matrix and John Wick franchises.

Even at 57 years old he shows no signs of slowing down, with The Matrix Resurrections currently playing in theaters and on HBO Max, John Wick: Chapter 4 coming in March 2023 after being hit with another delay, while Chapter 5 has already been given the green light.

One of the reasons the latter series is so popular is the focus on wide shots and long takes to display Reeves’ hand-to-hand combat and firearms credentials, a breath of fresh air in an age where the majority of actioners favor CGI overload and rapid editing to create a sense of kinetic urgency that sometimes feels hollow and unearned.

Speaking to Collider, Chapter 4 cinematographer Dan Laustsen explained how to get the best out of the actor when it comes to framing the set pieces, and it’s all about showcasing the realism that comes with seeing the leading man do what he does better than most.

“But he wants to do that. He wants to shoot wide so Keanu could do what Keanu has to do. And then getting into the closeups for whatever reason, super fast, because Keanu is running out of speed of course because, you know, he’s not a stunt guy.”

Reeves doesn’t quite bring Tom Cruise levels of daredevil insanity to his output, but he definitely puts the work in to ensure that nobody questions whether or not it’s him doing the ass-kicking as the legendary assassin.