John Wick VFX Artist Reveals How They Plot Out Its Bloody Violence

John Wick Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is practically a ballet of carefully choreographed violence, just as beautiful to watch as it is brutal. But those who pay attention to the detail may have realized that the latest installment of the Keanu Reeves-led franchise is virtually torture porn when compared to the first film, joyfully lingering on shots of punctured eyeballs and shattered toenails to the wake of Wick’s destruction.

Those behind the John Wick series have prided themselves on its perfect mix of ruthlessness and realism, especially directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. Former stunt performers themselves, the duo knew exactly how they wanted the violence portrayed on screen, and instructed their visual effects team to take a more reserved approach to the carnage.

Kirk Brillon, the VFX supervisor from John Wick: Chapter 2, recently revealed to Variety that Stahelski even had specific intentions for the amount blood seen throughout the sequel:

“A lot of times when you’re doing special effects for action movies, when someone gets shot, the blood explodes out toward you, toward the camera. But when you’re actually shot by a bullet, the blood’s coming out the back…. The blood’s gonna be there, but it’s gonna be subtle, and it’s gonna be behind them.”

Usually, action filmmakers forsake reality in favor of spectacle, even down to something as small as a blood splatter. While squibs are usually front-loaded to shoot a fake blood concoction at the camera, Leitch and Stahelski utilized the digital effects at their disposal to create a more realistic gunshot wound, emphasizing the power and precision of someone like John Wick. Though each film ups the kill count in increasingly nasty ways, one can’t help but be awestruck at each scene’s beautifully arranged composition.

Chapter 3 – Parabellum is in theaters now, where it’s making a killing at the box office. It may have taken every superhero in the MCU to defeat Thanos, but John Wick managed to knock the Mad Titan (and Avengers: Endgame) from the #1 spot all on his own. If you’ve seen it, be sure to let us know in the comments below how you feel about the franchise’s ever-growing onscreen violence.