“John Wick: Chapter 4” Ending Explained
Spoilers: While the climax of “John Wick: Chapter 4” may seem definitive, the film’s producer explains how Keanu Reeves could return for another round.
(Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead for “John Wick: Chapter 4.”)
John Wick has been through a lot in nine years. The sullen assassin played by Keanu Reeves tried to retire from the profession in the first film, mourning his late wife, only to spring back into action to avenge his dead dog. From there, John just can’t catch a break. He is forced to re-enlist for the sequel, which ends with the contract of the High Table, and he decides to shut down the whole assassin business by the end of the third chapter.
In the fourth entry this weekend, the renegade assassin closes in on his target, setting his sights on High Table boss Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), even as the Marquis hopes to take down John first.
As usual with the “John Wick” movies, the stakes of the story are mostly just one giant MacGuffin for John to shoot, punch and smash his way through highly stylized environments while surviving many impossible ordeals. This time, John somehow manages to survive some pretty rough falls, break through glass, and fall down seemingly endless flights of stairs in one of the film’s funniest slapstick moments, but still manages to get up and fight his way on. .
Until the end, that is, where the future of the entire series suddenly becomes more difficult.
In the final act of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” John agrees to a sunrise duel with the Marquis, who nominates the blind killer Caine (Donnie Yen) in his place. After Caine hits John with a bullet that knocks him out and John seems to miss his target, the Marquis takes the gun from Caine to deliver the fatal shot. But it turns out that John didn’t actually fire his gun, and he kills the Marquis with his last bullet, effectively destroying the High Tablet and freeing John from the bounty on his head.
A bloody John staggers to the stairs, sits down, and remembers his late wife before he fell. In the final scene, John’s buddies Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) are in a cemetery regarding John’s tombstone and its location next to his wife. They walk away, the camera drifts into the trees, and we fade to black.
So that’s it, right? Is John dead, finally reconciled with the love of his life? Not so fast.
“It’s an ambiguous ending,” producer Basil Iwanyck, who produced all four “John Wick” films, told IndieWire. “I will put it this way. We don’t have an answer to that.”
Quoted by Iwanyck another interview Director Chad Stahelski said that if the new film was a success, he would sit down with Reeves in Japan over a glass of whiskey and discuss how they could continue the story with another chapter. However this hypothetical debate plays out, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where John essentially faked his death to start his life over.
“There are really two characters,” Iwanyck said. “There’s John Wick and John the Civilian.” The question for all of us is if the audience accepts the story and the box office works, is there still a story to be told? I do not know. But I don’t think we boxed ourselves in at the end of the movie, dead or alive.”
With the High Table in ruins, it is possible that John is overseeing the creation of a new network of assassins. There are also a few other loose ends that need to be resolved, as shown in a short inter-credits sequence. While John remains friendly with Caine, the martial arts assassin murders Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada), the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel, after trying to protect John. So Koji’s daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama) seeks revenge. In the halftime scene, Akira pulls out a blade and approaches Caine in the crowd as he walks toward his daughter with flowers. It’s unclear how the moment will play out from here. Will Akira, who blames John for her father’s death, realize that he is faking his death and track him down?
Regardless of where this all leads, Iwanyck says the team needs to take a breather before it gets right. “Everyone is so wiped out after every ‘John Wick’ movie,” he said. “It’s hard to make movies, as you can imagine, and Keanu always says, ‘Never again.’ We’ve done everything. We’re all friends, we work together almost non-stop, and we’ve been through a lot.”
It’s another reason to suspect Reeves will find a way to return for a fifth installment. “Just on a personal level, we can’t break up the band yet,” Iwanyck said. “If the film does really well and people like it, and if there’s a germ of an idea, then we entertain it. We are very far from that. I’m not saying there will be a sequel, but if there’s a world where we can find a story, we’ll explore it.”
Regardless of what happens there, the “John Wick” universe has a lot in store for the future. The Ana de Armas spin-off, “Ballerina,” is currently in post-production, though a release date has not yet been announced, and Reeves has a supporting role. There’s the prequel TV series “The Continental,” which moved from Starz to Peacock last year and is expected to premiere on the streaming service later this year. The series directed by Albert Hughes (“The Book of Eli”) takes place in New York in the 1970s.
“For a franchise like John Wick that never slows down to explain who the people are, it’s not only fun, but really satisfying if you’re a fan,” Iwanyck said. “We don’t want to sell it in an instant.”
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is now in theaters.
Register: Stay up to date with the latest movie and TV news! Subscribe to our email newsletter here.