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‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ star Keanu Reeves explains that emotional ending

[This story contains a major spoiler for John Wick: Chapter 4]

The end of John Wick: Chapter 4 comes as a shock to the fans.

Wick wins his climatic duel against the villainous Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), but is seemingly mortally wounded, having finally suffered one shot too many. He pronounces his late wife’s name, “Helen,” who died in 2014’s opening John Wick. Wick then seemingly perishes, and in the film’s final scene, Winston (Ian McShane) stands by Wick’s grave.

When the movie recently premiered at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival, a fan asked director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves about the ending.

“We had the chance [to do another film] because the public [response to] Chapter threeand we were like, ‘What was the Why?’” says Reeves, seemingly referring to the overarching reason for it Chapter 4 to exist. And when Chad and I were talking, the Why? was death – and it was the death of John Wick. For him to get his peace, or freedom, in a way… that was the reason for making the movie. It can’t just be, “Let’s do another one.” It was really about death, or a way of dying. We were really inspired by the Hagakure…”

The Hagakure, notes Stahelski, is a Japanese code of ethics. A book devoted to his teachings, Hagakure: The Book of the Samuraiis described as ‘a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior’.

“We kind of took the way of dying — or the way we live well to die well — as a theme,” says Stahelski.

Reeves was asked what his favorite scene in the film was, and he pointed to Wick’s last moment. “If only I looked at it [the perspective of] John – John Wick – maybe he’s on the stairs at the end,” he says. ‘When he says ‘Helen’. That, for me, after playing the role for about eight years and after shooting the [massive fight on the other set of stairs]that part that was [a poignant link] to the past.”

Before the pandemic hit, Stahelski wanted to shoot a fourth and fifth episode back-to-back. The filmmakers later told the press that they were taking a wait-and-see approach. A post-credits scene leaves room for the idea of ​​a spin-off focusing on Donnie Yen’s Caine and/or Rina Sawayama’s Akira.

While Reeves and Stahelski sounded pretty sure that the Baba Yaga is dead, the editors of Chapter 4 final moments leaves just enough vagueness (Wick isn’t shown clearly dead) to give the filmmakers some wiggle room if they want to bring him back with some kind of fake-his-own-death reveal – though such a move would undermine the power of Chapter 4 end and wouldn’t make much sense (if Wick could have done that all along, why wait until he’s finally fought his way out of danger to do it?).

There’s also another possibility, should Reeves want to return to the role – making a prequel before Wick retires to settle down with his wife, although that would require Wick playing a much younger version of the character than we’d ever seen. Thankfully, as one SXSW audience member pointed out to Reeves, he doesn’t seem to be getting any older. “Yeah, man, I’m getting older,” Reeves replied wearily. “It happens, man.”

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