While many pundits like to claim that the action movie genre is dead, we at CHARGE! of course know that’s not the case. And we’re not the only ones keeping the flame(thrower) alive, either. The John Wick franchise has done big business at the box office in recent years, with each installment outperforming the last. A big reason why the series has been so successful is its outstanding gunfights. And a big reason why said gunfights are so outstanding is a man named Taran Butler.
Butler is a professional 3-gun shooter (a target-shooting sport involving rapidly switching between a rifle, pistol, and shotgun) who led a team of artillery trainers on the last two John Wick movies, and he’s made sure to impart far more realism into the films’ gunplay than most other films. “I hated movies where they’re gearing up and all you see is a bunch of ball ammo,” Butler told Task & Purpose. “It drives me out of my mind. Then they’re shooting bad guys and there’s these giant exploding bullet holes, so I made sure we got hollow points there in time.”
Butler also trained Keanu Reeves and the rest of the cast with live rounds, and he explains why. “The reason why we train a lot with live ammo is because in a lot of movies you’ll see that the actor is not lined up with the sights of the gun,” Butler said. “You shoot with live ammo because they will naturally become a good shooter, and will naturally line the sights up at the bad guys, where it’s not aiming super low. To make Keanu good, he just has to be good. He has to be real.”
That realness even goes to reloading, which is far more realistic in John Wick 3 than probably any other movie. “I’d rather have [Wick] reload a little too early, rather than have him run a thousand rounds like in Rambo,” Butler said. “I love Rambo, but he had a 30-round mag that killed 10,000 guys in Rambo 3. He’s got no mags, and he’s virtually naked … I taught Keanu to be a great shooter and to be a great shooter, you have to draw fast, reload fast, shoot double taps fast and not be inaccurate.”
Clearly, Butler’s training worked, as you can see in the video below.