When Chad Stahelski and David Leitch made the switch from stunt work to directing with "John Wick" back in 2014, they gave rise to a whole new wave of action movies. From "Atomic Blonde" to "Nobody" to "Bullet Train," the "John Wick"-style action thriller has basically become a subgenre in and of itself. But there's nothing quite like the original, and since that 2014 debut, John Wick has been dispatching his enemies in unreasonably entertaining and inventive ways across a full trilogy of films.

Stahelski has been directing solo since "John Wick: Chapter 2," steering the Keanu Reeves-led franchise into ever more epic waters. As the titular hitman uncovers the scope of the underground criminal empire for which he once worked, the John Wick saga has become more ambitious with each successive film — even spawning some upcoming spinoffs with the Ana De Armas-starring "Ballerina" and TV series "The Continental." But "John Wick: Chapter 4," which will finally hit theaters on March 24th, looks set to be the most intense and large-scale entry yet.

While the action set pieces have always been the series' main draw, that doesn't mean Stahelski is only bringing a stunt performer's mindset to his directorial duties. Since "John Wick," he's taken his role seriously, telling TheActionElite.com, "The good, big budget action directors know that action is just another part of the process like acting and performances […] all the pieces are equally important." It seems that appreciation for all aspects of direction has stayed with Stahelski right the way through to the fourth installment — to the point that he's now using the great Stanley Kubrick as a reference point.

The Barry Lyndon Influence

Yes, celebrated auteur, Stanley Kubrick played a tiny role in the direction of "John Wick: Chapter 4." Back when the "2001: A Space Odyssey" director was working on his 1975 period drama, "Barry Lyndon," he planned to shoot it, according to The Telegraph, so as to not, "reproduce the set-bound, artificially lit look of other costume dramas from that time." Along with his cinematographer John Alcott, Kubrick attempted to shoot, "as many sequences as possible without recourse to electrical light," which meant using daylight and candles to illuminate his carefully constructed scenes. All of this lent the film a kind of painterly look, or as The Telegraph put it, "the day-lit interiors owe a lot to [18th Century English painter William] Hogarth."

Though it might seem unlikely, Kubrick and Alcott's approach had an effect on Chad Stahelski, who told Collider that he was a "big fan" of the way "Barry Lyndon" was shot. In the "John Wick: Chapter 4" trailer, there's a particularly impressive-looking scene where Wick meets Bill Skarsgård's Marquis de Gramont — a member of the High Table group of crime bosses — at a table in the Place du Trocadéro in the shadow of the Eiffel tower. And Stahelski found himself reminded of Kubrick when it came time to shoot the grand scene:

"You do all these read-throughs in these studio rooms beforehand, and you do your little acting rehearsals. But when you really see it, that was like my 'Barry Lyndon' set where, I don't know if you remember 'Barry Lyndon,' but big fan of the Kubrickian way he did that. So, we placed everybody in this really, really renaissance kind of way."

'The Reality Of The Final Moment'

Beyond using a visual style reminiscent of Kubrick's in "Barry Lyndon," Chad Stahelski also seems to share with the director a respect for spontaneity. Kubrick is infamous for making his actors shoot an ungodly amount of takes, which stems from his belief that, "When you come down to the day the scene is going to be shot and you arrive on the location with the actors […] the reality of the final moment, just before shooting, is so powerful that all previous analysis must yield before the impressions you receive under these circumstances."

Stahelski's view is faintly reminiscent of Kubrick's, in that he respects the "final moment" of shooting the scene. As he told Collider:

"I don't tell my cast too much. I give them the setting. We have a little chat. But there's nothing like it's 5 a.m., we're just setting up the lights. It's still dark out. They get out of the car. We're going to do our read-through, and then they get out of the SUV, and it's the f***ing Eiffel Tower right there at this great table […] When you explain that in a room, in an office, it's one thing, but when you see it with the Eiffel Tower and the symmetry, they all started to get the symmetry and the artistic nature of what we're trying to do when they get there. And there's nothing like seeing their faces when they go, 'Oh, I get what you're saying now.'"

Would Kubrick ever have thought his techniques might one day influence the saga of Baba Yaga? Almost certainly not. But it's clear that Stahelski has taken his job as director seriously enough to consider how the greats before him have done it.

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The post Director Chad Stahelski Had His Own Barry Lyndon Moment With John Wick: Chapter 4 appeared first on /Film.