How Keanu Reeves learned to shoot guns for ‘John Wick’
The following is a video transcript:
Joe Avella: In the span of three movies the "John Wick" films have racked up a body count of nearly 300. And to do that, you need guns.
John Wick: Lots of guns.
Joe: Meet Taran Butler. He's a world champion competitive shooter. He's also the owner of Taran Tactical. They're responsible for teaching some of Hollywood's top action stars how to handle firearms for film and television. Today, for the first time ever, I'll be shooting a pistol, a shotgun, and an assault rifle just to see how Keanu learned to look like an expert marksman for the big screen. What's the worst that could happen?
Could you imagine if we were doing this with the loaded guns? I would've shot all my feet off.
First, the stars of "John Wick" had to learn some basics before they could start shooting like international assassins.
Jade Struck: So we have this thing called 180-degree line. So when you're the shooter on the firing line, think of it like there's a force field pulling your muzzle downrange. Never bring the muzzle back past the 180-degree line. Finger off the trigger, unless you're shooting. And always treat every gun as if though it's loaded. I'm gonna teach you how to check to make sure that they're not.
Joe: After getting a feel for the pistol, it was time for the real deal.
Taran Butler: So we've got the three primary pistols of "John Wick" two and three. This is the gun you were training with with Jade. The gun that you see Keanu training with here on the range with a lot. In "John Wick 3," Charon suggests, he goes, "John, since you've been gone something new has come out. The 2011 Combat Master. Loaded in 9 millimeter major, 125 grain bullet, major business." So both guns shoot 9 millimeter.
Taran: The difference is, is this gun here can shoot 9 millimeter major. This is the 9 millimeter major, it's a lot taller 'cause it's got a lot more powder in it. The only difference is more powder. So, regular 9 millimeter on the left, 9 major on the right.
Joe: Yeah, that was awesome.
Taran: This gun here is Halle Berry's Glock 19 from "John Wick 3." So when the shoot-out takes place, she grabs this gun off one of the bad guys. She enjoyed the hard work and training. She had three broken ribs through most of the training here. So she wasn't at her top. Same with Keanu, getting beat up on the horses. But she just got really good at it, and I'd say, hands down, she's the best female weapons handler in Hollywood.
Joe: Taran has Hollywood's action stars start with a small firearm and a simple combo.
Taran: Let's do something fun and fast first. First off, no surfing, you were laid back like Jeff Spicoli. OK, start on this guy, easiest guy in the world. I'm gonna say, "Shooter ready, stand by." When you hear the beep, you're gonna come up, two to the body, one to the head. It's called the Mozambique.
Joe: Two to the body, one to the head.
Taran: Yeah. Shooter ready, stand by.
Joe: Did I get him? Taran: You got in the head, it counts. Pop the safety on when you're done. Finger off the trigger. OK, that's 4:41, let's destroy that time. Just do one more clean one, no box-offices fiascos. Shooter ready, stand by. Good, OK, that was 1:63.
Joe: Hey, all right!
Taran: You went from 4:41 to 1:63 in a couple rounds.
Joe: Booyah. It's easy.
The next level is rifle handling. Placement is key, as is learning how to smoothly replace your ammo.
John Wick: I need something robust, precise.
Sommelier: Robust, precise. AR-15. 11.5 inch, compensated with an iron-bonded bolt carrier.
Joe: All right, so it's, like, here?
Jade: Left hand out farther. Boom boom boom, drop. Yep, you're good, keep it going.
Joe: As I'm going.
Jade: Watch it go in. Button. Paddle.
Joe: What button?
Jade: It's this paddle right there.
Joe: Oh, why do I...? Oh, Jesus!
Jade: So, drop the bolt. Drop the bolt, and then you're back on.
Joe: Gotcha. Boom boom, boom boom. Oh no, I'm out.
Jade: Feed, button, on. Good! We're learning how to manipulate our weapons without ammunition in them so we know all of the functions.
Joe: Could you imagine if we were doing this with the loaded guns? I would've shot all my feet off.
Jade: Oh, goodness.
Joe: The true test was a more complicated combo. One similar to the kind Keanu and Halle had to master before hitting the set.
Taran: The director, Chad Stahelski, he wanted everything. He wanted three-gun loading, he wanted all kinds of ways to load the shotgun, all kinds of pistol reload, transitions, rifle, shotgun, pistol, everything.
Boom boom boom, boom boom, boom boom, ding. That's it.
Joe: All right, this might take a while.
Taran: You can do it, Mr. Wick. Shooter ready, stand by. Faster. Little guy. Good!
Joe: All right.
Taran: Safety on? Joe: Yes, sir.
Taran: You're at 13:67, a lot better than 27 seconds. You want to do it again?
Joe: Yeah, of course.
Taran: Are you sure you're not bored yet?
Joe: Yeah, this is awesome.
Taran: Let me fix that one plate so it's not in your way this time.
Joe: It's funny, he's so good with guns, he's just like, "Let me move that for you," ba-bam. Now, it was Taran's turn. Shooter ready, stand by. 5.17, that's ridiculous. Last but not least, it was time to try out a "John Wick" fan favorite.
Sommelier: May I suggest the Benelli M4? An Italian classic.
Taran: In "John Wick 3," by far the coolest part was the quad loading with the shotgun. That's something, no movie would ever have done that. Quad loading is a very difficult thing to learn, and only a few people can do it really good. So we got that going, and towards the end he did amazing.
Joe: Is this thing gonna, like, have a real big kick that's gonna hurt?
Taran: No, there's no recoil at all on this one. Good, that guy. Little guy.
Jade: Lean into it.
Joe: Ah, I think I'm out.
Taran: Oh, match saver! Ah, "You set me up!" All right.
Joe: Oh, that's what that last one was for.
Taran: Yeah, the match saver.
Jade: Good job!
Joe: Thank you very much.
Joe: How come those guys didn't fall down?
Taran: They did, but they came back up.
Joe: Oh, OK. Thank God.
Taran: I'll finish them off.
Joe: I love this habit you have of being like, "Let me take care of that," bang. Are you walking around the house like, "Let me get the lights," pow pow?
Taran: Pretty much.
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