With “96 Hours – Taken” Liam Neeson started the trend of character actors who don’t actually have a martial arts background suddenly showing off as action stars. It was pretty celebrated at the time, and Neeson has been making similar action movies on the assembly line ever since. But honestly: The choreographies in Neeson’s films are rarely really convincing. Much of the dynamic is created by camera shake and, above all, sometimes absurdly fast sequences of cuts. Luckily some of the “copycats” do it much better…
… above all “Better Call Saul”-Star Bob Odenkirk in “Nobody” and most recently Allison Janney in “Lou” – and both have one thing in common: Daniel Bernhardt from the environment of the currently best Hollywood action forge 87Eleven (responsible for the “John Wick”Movies). At first glance, Bernhardt only plays a small supporting role in both actioners, he is a henchman who is taken apart by the main characters. But that hides its true value for these films.
Because Bernhardt trained both Odenkirk and Janney intensively for several months and also choreographed the fight scenes together with the stars and the respective directors. He is a big part of the fact that the character stars can do so many fights themselves that there is not as much work with doubles, obscuring camera angles and cuts as in the Liam Neeson films.
And especially it’s also his credit that the action looks so good at the end. Bernhardt is the true star behind “Nobody” and “Lou”.
Daniel Bernhardt, who was born in Switzerland, made his acting debut in “Bloodsport II” and since then has mainly had roles as a villain’s henchman or someone who needs to be beaten up for other reasons – very often in B movies, where he is under fans quickly earn legendary status. Because when Bernhardt appeared on the TV screen, you knew that the action scene that followed would stand out.
An important milestone in his career was certainly his part as an agent in “The Matrix Reloaded”, his biggest project up to that point. In this he worked with Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, whom he already knew from some B movies (such as the “Bloodsport” series) and who founded the stunt company 87Eleven in 1997. They not only supply Hollywood with them – now divided between two companies after the former business partners separated – but today they also produce action films themselves, above all the “John Wick”-Row.
Bernhardt is always right in the middle of it – from “John Wick’, through ‘Atomic Blonde’ to ‘Birds Of Prey’, where the 87Eleven team took over the action, he can be seen in small supporting roles. He also did stunt work on movies like The First Avenger: Civil War orJohn Wick 2″.
From the beginning he showed that he is more than a man who can be beaten up well, but was involved extensively in the design of action scenes. and since 87Eleven expanded its line of business and now offers state-of-the-art facilities for training and preparing stars for productions, he has found a field of activity here as well.
It all comes together in Lou. Bernhardt only trained leading actress Allison Janney for months. With the knowledge he gained, he was able to support director Anna Foerster and her team in designing and choreographing the action scenes. Of course, stunt doubles are used for particularly dangerous scenes, but Janney, who won the Oscar for “I, Tonya”, was able to do an incredible amount herself. and The highlight is the brutal fight with Bernhardt, in which Bernhardt once again shows how good he can make it look when he’s beaten up.
Bernhardt plays one of two henchmen encountered by Janney’s Lou in a cabin. While his comrade-in-arms is quickly shot, the Swiss fights a tough fight with the leading actress. It’s unbelievably brutal, well filmed and very exciting. And it uses a tin can in a very unexpected way – This sequence alone and the use of the can makes “Lou” worth seeing in the eyes of the author of these lines.
“Lou” also shows why it’s a good idea for character actors to shoot action films like this. As much as the author of these lines celebrates genre stars like Scott Adkins (“One Shot” is one of the best action movies of the year!), “Lou” benefits immensely from the dramatic power of its leading actress. Allison Janney is really strong again in this movie.
That’s only partially true of the Netflix production from the forge of JJ Abrams as a whole. “Lou” is told too sluggishly and too long for long periods, the action highlights are a bit too few. But thanks to Janney and a successful staging of the dreary, rainy forest setting by Anna Foerster, it’s worth seeing for genre fans, so we recommend it.
And we’re already excited to see who Daniel Bernhardt might train in the near future, so that another star will soon surprise us like Bob Odenkirk and Allison Janney did before…