Austin Butler And Timothee Chalamet's Dune 2 Fight Had Christopher Walken Worried

Denis Villeneuve isn't exactly what one might call an action director. His early thrillers like "Prisoners" and "Sicario" are slow-burn affairs punctuated by graphic bursts of violence while his sci-fi hit "Arrival" devotes most of its runtime to characters talking about linguistics. Even in "Blade Runner 2049" and "Dune," the action scenes are swift and brutal yet relatively few and far between. That changes somewhat with "Dune: Part Two," a film in which young Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and the Fremen unleash the full might of their desert power as they go to war with the ruthless House Harkonnen and its ally, the power-hungry Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken), the Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe, in a battle for the planet of Arrakis.

"Dune: Part Two" also sees Paul putting all that one-on-one training with his gruff mentor, Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), in the first film to good use as he goes toe-to-toe in armed combat with Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler), the sadistic nephew and heir to House Harkonnen's top dog, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Admittedly, as much as I would love to watch Paul duke it out with the Emperor or the Baron instead, that simply wouldn't be a fair fight. The Baron would just use his suspensors to float away like an annoying video game boss who hides in a corner while you try and figure out how to reach them. Meanwhile, the Emperor would merely refuse to do anything Paul told him to and the two would have to stand there awkwardly doing nothing.

Feyd-Rautha, on the other hand, is more than ready and willing to slice Paul to ribbons, and their ensuing showdown in "Dune: Part Two" was apparently so intense that it even had Walken worried about his costars' safety.

'Do they have to be fighting so close?'

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Chalamet, Butler, and their co-stars Zendaya (who reprises her role as Chani) and Florence Pugh (who plays the Emperor's daughter, Princess Irulan) talked about the pair's amusing shift in tone between takes of their big climactic duel in the film:

Zendaya: "I like the switch. Like, you guys, again, would kick each other's ass and then after, 'Hey, are you okay? Are you okay?' You would check in on each other."

Pugh: "Christopher Walken was pretty scared for you guys as well. He was like, 'Do they have to be fighting so close?' I'm like, 'I think so.' Yeah, he was getting really worried."

While "Dune: Part Two" ups the action ante, it's still a far cry from your average "Star Wars" film or some other tale of derring-do set far away from Earth. In his review for /Film, Chris Evangelista writes, "Not content with just spectacle (and boy, there is a lot of that), Denis Villeneuve's sequel packs in heavy thoughts on religion, war, revenge, romance, and yes, really big worms." It's a bit like "Oppenheimer" if, instead of discussing nuclear physics and patriotism the entire time, the film's scientists and politicians eventually banded together to fight the scientists and politicians from other countries with their bare hands in the sprawling Los Alamos desert.

Extending the analogy, Paul and Feyd-Rautha sparring to the death in "Dune: Part Two" is a little like if J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.) came to blows in Christopher Nolan's film. One imagines that fight would've been so epic, it might've put Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) having a round of fisticuffs in "Bridget Jones's Diary" to shame.

"Dune: Part Two" hits theaters on March 1, 2024.