The director of John Wick: Chapter 4 has shed new light on the ending to the action film, discussing what the studio originally thought about the idea he and star Keanu Reeves had for the blockbuster action movie that prompted them to say, “‘Are you f**king insane?'”
This story contains major spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 4.
Reeves’ John Wick dies at the end of the movie, and director Chad Stahelski told The Hollywood Reporter that movie studio Lionsgate had some questions about this.
“The response was, ‘What are you f**king thinking?’ The note was, ‘Are you f**king insane?'” Stahelski said. “And Keanu and I just smiled and said, ‘Yeah.’ We decided we wanted to tie everything together, and we were like, ‘How do you give a proper goodbye?’ So that’s how we sold it to the studio because, at some point, this has gotta end, man.”
Stahelski filmed an alternate ending that suggests John might have survived, but after just one test screening, Stahelski and Reeves said they did, truly, want to wrap things up. Stahelski said Lionsgate deserves credit for not pushing the issue.
“We did one test screening, and the audience revolted pretty hard about [the new ending shot during additional photography]. So we thought that we nailed it the first time, and to the studio’s credit, they didn’t even blink,” he said.
The original plan was to film John Wick 4 and 5 back to back, but Stahelski said he simply didn’t have it in him, creatively, to make another one alongside the fourth.
“The real reason we didn’t do four and five together was because I raised my hand. I even went to Keanu and said, ‘I’m just not good enough to do four and five. I’m good enough to do one. I can make a difference between three and four, but I’m not good enough to somehow magically get better in the middle of the process between four and five,'” he said. “The reason these movies keep getting better is because we keep getting better, but I need the time to go to school and get better. So that’s the real reason why we divided it up at the time. I’m not a good enough director to deliver two uniquely special experiences.”
Finally, Stahelski spoke about giving John Wick the character a send-off in John Wick 4 that felt fitting to his story arc. John murders countless people out of his desire to avenge the death of his dog in the first movie. His crimes cannot go unpunished, and they don’t, as John is ultimately killed.
“So in the two hours and 38 minutes [without credits], how do we give John, instead of redemption, those last few moments of a good life? And it was by saving an innocent, by showing friendship and by showing that John actually understands that he’s f**ked a lot of people over and that there are consequences to killing 86 people over a puppy,” Stahelski said. “I’m also fascinated by etiquette and ceremony and ritual and that thematic or that chivalrous attitude of the Samurai code, Bushido. We flipped it a little bit, but that’s how we did it.”
The full interview at The Hollywood Reporter is packed with lots of incredible insights about the John Wick series and bringing it to a conclusion. It is well worth a read.
John Wick 4 is in theaters now, and it’s on pace to make the most money ever for the series.
The John Wick series will continue beyond the main story with a spin-off focused on the character Ballerina, who is played by Ana de Armas. Reeves will have a cameo as John Wick in the movie.
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