You might not necessarily think of the movie John Wick as being a car-centric action movie, but take a closer look and you find that much of the movie hangs on some pretty iconic vehicles.
Keanu Reeves has been in the press recently, snapped during filming of John Wick 2, so it’s probably a timely idea to take a closer look at the film and it’s cars. Reeves is fairly unique in the film world as an actor who likes to carry out his own stunts where possible, and that includes the driving, so it was down to renowned drive stunt coordinator, Darren Prescott, to whip him into shape for what Prescott has described as ‘car fu’, where the car is used as a weapon in the movie for some scenes.
In fact, I would come to learn that training Keanu Reeves for stunts such as these might not be as problematic as it might appear on paper, as Reeves is a renowned car and bike fan, often being photographed riding a classic Norton or, more intriguingly, a custom bike built by the company he part owns with designer, Gard Hollinger, Arch Motorcycle Company.
In December, Reeves unveiled himself as a pretty fantastic prize (yes, really…) in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book; for a pretty reasonable cost of $150,000 dollars, one lucky recipient would get a two-day ride around California with Reeves on an KRGT-1, an Arch Motorcycle based on an original design that the pair had worked on for Keanu’s personal use and a bike Reeves described as ‘the best bike on the planet’ – and if that wasn’t good enough, the winner gets to keep the motorcycle afterwards.
The whole plot of John Wick begins with an interaction over a rather stunning 1969 Ford Mustang, which is suggested to be, by the curious Eastern European gangster, a Boss 429 – a variant offered by Ford during 1969 and 1970. Such muscle cars are extremely rare with only 1,358 ever coming off the production line, so it would be a pretty good find for an ex hit-man like John Wick, however much he had earned.
While the car in the film has indeed been described as a 7-litre V8 Boss 429 (even, allegedly, by Top Gear, though that page no longer exists), there are some enthusiast websites that claim that this is an error, and the vehicle is in fact a de-badged Mach 1, an altogether more readily available period performance V8 Ford, with 72,458 Mach 1 sales during it’s lifetime.
To be fair to the detailing in the script, “Boss 429?” is merely a question – and a question which John Wick has no intention of answering.
Of course, if you own a classic Mustang and then find that you need a replacement, what better replacement is there than a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle? The Chevelle was probably one of the most popular muscle cars of its day. The 2-door version Super Sport (SS) was the car in which Chevrolet could confidently enter the muscle car wars of the gas guzzling late sixties/early seventies with.
The Super Sport offered versions packing either a 6.5 litre V8 (what else?) with 415lb ft torque (350bhp) – or a less sedate 375bhp version which could cope with the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds and hit 60mph in just under 7 seconds.
The special order COPO limited edition versions would up the ante with a car a capable of 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds.
It’s a testament to Reeves driving ability (and you can see some of the stunt training on the Blu-ray disc extras) that some of the stunning car scenes have turned out the way that they have in the movie; Prescott says that Reeve’s ability to use the car as a ‘weapon’ and slam the brakes on and slide at 45 degrees to the camera for one scene was so good that the camera was able to zoom in for a close up of Reeves very clearly behind the wheel for one uninterrupted shot – no stunt driver here.
The car used predominantly in those final scenes was a Dodge Charger, an altogether more modern muscle car, and one in which the film makes great use of the striking wrap-around taillight that stretches across the whole rear of the car as we see it speeding through the rain after dark.
Those final scenes were actually filmed at Brooklyn Navy Yard, as New York has a citywide speed limit of 35mph and the makers wanted so much to have the film set in ‘old New York’, the hunt was on to find a suitable location for the dramatic final scenes and the Navy Yard fitted the bill.
So John Wick 2 is now apparently a wrap with a scheduled release rumoured to be for the coming winter. I can confidently predict that that there will be another dog (no spoilers here, but a dog is as crucial to the plot of the first film as the Ford Mustang) and hopefully, plenty more classic American muscle cars.
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