SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details from the plot of John Wick: Chapter 4.
At the end of John Wick: Chapter 4, director-producer Chad Stahelski and producer Erica Lee appeared to be putting the franchise to rest, as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) took a bullet to the gut in a duel, seemingly succumbing to his injuries. That being said, is there any way the hero of this franchise could be resurrected, as has been done with action heroes of films like Netflix’s Extraction?
“You never know,” Stahelski teased Saturday at Deadline’s Contenders Film Los Angeles event. “Keanu’s hard to kill.”
“Never say never,” added Lee, in a conversation moderated by Justin Kroll, also featuring supervising sound editor Mark Stoeckinger.
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In all seriousness, though, Stahelski said, the pair are “very proud” of how they “ended” the film and franchise, and “feel good” about where they left things. “But look, I love working with Keanu. We love the character, it’s cool,” the filmmaker reflected. “Honestly, to be fair, if either one of us woke up tomorrow and had a really good in or an idea, we’d be down for it. It’s just, you don’t want to force it. We’re pretty good right now and don’t want to mess it up.”
Coming in as the highest-grossing film in the franchise after its March release, at a worldwide gross exceeding $440M, Chapter 4 watches as the titular ex-hitman uncovers a path to defeating crime lord council The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
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While Stahelski was initially satisfied to end the franchise with the third installment, he came around to the idea of a fourth following a conversation with Reeves in a Japanese whiskey bar, where they decided to tackle a version of John Wick in samurai-movie style.
The screenwriting process began that day, and in this installment of the series, the hope was to go for a different feel than ever before, very much leaning into an international story that would make a stop in Paris, at Stahelski’s request.
In discussing the process of figuring out action sequences, Stahelski said that the team knew early on that they wanted to incorporate “this Sisyphean metaphor of stairs” into the visual storytelling, as well as a chase sequence done in the round. “We always wanted to try a top-shot kind of thing. We knew we wanted to do a vehicular thing,” he said. “We knew we wanted to incorporate different kinds of martial arts.”
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A great number of these sequences began as references to films the key creatives love. “If you watch a John Wick, we don’t look at it like a movie. It’s a love letter,” explained Stahelski. “So you can see Lawrence of Arabia in there, you can see a Jackie Chan reference. You can see Enter the Dragon, Walter Hill’s The Warriors. They’re all movies that we [love] from Bullitt to Point Blank to Wong Kar-wai to Zhang Yimou to Kurosawa.”
Even if Lionsgate’s John Wick film series is winding down, the franchise itself will live on. While Peacock recently unveiled miniseries offshoot The Continental, female-led film spinoff Ballerina starring Ana de Armas has been set to hit theaters on June 7.
Check back Monday for the panel video.
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