John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch explain their involvement with The Matrix 4, saying they're helping with things like choreography.
John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch describe their work on The Matrix 4 as being conceptual more than second unit. Years before they began directing, the pair made their living as stunt-men on projects like The Matrix trilogy. Stahelski even served as Keanu Reeves' stunt double on both The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, in addition to acting as the martial arts stunt coordinator on Reloaded and its followup, Revolutions. Amusingly, he was also the one who accidentally let slip the Wachowskis were developing The Matrix 4, three months before Warner Bros. made the news official.
Given their long-standing professional relationship with Lana Wachowski (who's co-writing and directing the film on her own), it's long been expected Stahelski and Leitch would be involved with The Matrix 4 in some capacity. Sure enough, the pair are now confirmed to be working on the film in a supporting role, similar to how they recently served as second unit directors on this year's Birds of Prey. For the large part, though, it sounds like they're mostly there to lend a helping hand when needed.
Speaking to Collider, Stahelski and Leitch described their involvement with The Matrix 4 as being "more about the creative concept of some of the choreography and backing them up with stuff." As Stahelski explained, Lana Wachowski is directing the action herself and the movie's second units are mostly there for "establishing shots, the B-sides of the some of the compositions for some locations. But Lana, she does her own action. She weaves it into the main unit stuff, which is why their stuff looks so good.”
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
It's no surprise Lana Wachowski is being so hands-on with the stunts in The Matrix 4. At this point, she has decades of directing action films under her belt with her sibling Lilly, going back to the original Matrix in 1999. The pair have only continued to up the ante with their projects since then, delivering truly ground-breaking spectacle in polarizing, yet undeniably ambitious, movies in the forms of Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending, along with their cult Netflix series Sense8. On the way, they've amassed a recurring team of trusted collaborators that includes concept artists Geofrey Darrow and Steve Skroce, in addition to DP John Toll (all three of whom are also involved with The Matrix 4). As Stahelski told Collider, "Lana’s come back with a lot of love to have a pseudo-family reunion [with 'The Matrix 4'], so that’s been a lot of fun."
Based on everything they've done since the original trilogy, it'll be exciting to see what Lana Wachowski and her team cook-up in their return to The Matrix franchise. The second and third movies were far less beloved than the original Matrix, yet the series' fans have never lost interest in seeing another installment after all these years. So long as the fourth movie does a better job of advancing the property's overarching philosophical themes and sci-fi ideas than Reloaded and Revolutions did, it may yet leave audiences wanting more. At the very least, it's sure to feature some terrific practical stunts and mind-bending visuals thanks to the people involved.