(Editor’s Note: The following story contains major spoilers for “John Wick: Chapter 4.”)
John Wick is dead, right?
“John Wick: Chapter 4” director spoke to Chad Stahelski Empire revised on the ending originally shot for the film, which indicated to the audience that John Wick was still alive. In the final stage version, John Wick appears to die on the steps of the Sacré Coeur Basilica as he broods over his family. Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne’s characters are then seen looking over his grave, implying that Reeves’ character is dead without ever explicitly showing it.
“We had a different ending,” Stahelski said. “(The theatrical ending) was the ending Keanu and I wanted, but we shot a different ending. We shot an ending where you actually see John Wick at the end of the movie. So it was very clear that he was still alive. The audience we tested with absolutely preferred the ambiguous ending.
Stahelski continued: “We didn’t think we had done our best (with ‘Parabellum’). We both felt we could have finished the series better. It didn’t feel like we blocked the landing, and that’s a shitty feeling. Because we love the character, we love working together, we love the world.”
Stahelski said the ending arose in part from the reception of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”.
“I said, ‘I’d be pissed if this was how they ended the whole series. I’d be pissed at the director,’” Stahelski recalled after the third film. “And I had just read this treatise on samurai etiquette called ‘Hagakure’, the art of dying. And we’re like, ‘Yeah, he has to die. And we have to find the most beautiful way to make it happen. We have to make it all say, ‘You can only have a good death if you have had a good life.’ This is the first line we wrote on a napkin in Japan, three years later. We wrote the film backwards on that one thing.
The ‘John Wick’ franchise continues with spin-offs such as the prequel series ‘The Continental’ and an alleged follow-up film focusing on the supporting characters.
Producer Basil Iwanyck told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn that “Chapter 4” intentionally has an “ambiguous ending” that he leaves open should Reeves return. “I’ll put it this way: We don’t have that answer,” he said. “There are two characters, really. There’s John Wick and John, the civilian. The question for all of us is, OK, if audiences embrace the story and the box office works, is there another story to tell? I do not know. But I don’t think we’ve locked ourselves into any corner, dead or alive, at the end of this film.