Is John Wick really dead? It’s the question that has been on every Keanu Reeves fan’s mind since the release of “John Wick: Chapter 4” in March. The movie concluded with what appeared to be John’s demise after a fierce duel aimed at freeing himself from the High Table. During the third round of the duel, John sustains a gunshot wound and seems to breathe his last on the steps of the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, while having a vision of his late wife, Helen. The film then transitions to a final scene featuring Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) paying a visit to John’s gravestone.
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In a recent interview with Empire magazine, director Chad Stahelski of “John Wick: Chapter 4” disclosed, for the first time, that an alternative ending was filmed and tested. In this version of the film, there is no doubt that John Wick survives the ordeal of the duel.
“We had a different ending,” Stahelski revealed. “[The theatrical ending] was the ending both Keanu and I wanted, but we shot a different ending. We filmed an ending where you unequivocally saw John Wick at the end of the movie, making it very clear that he was still alive. However, the test audiences overwhelmingly preferred the ambiguous ending.”
The ambiguous conclusion of “John Wick: Chapter 4” has ignited speculation about whether Keanu Reeves will return for a fifth installment in the “John Wick” series. With Reeves and Stahelski hinting at the possibility of John’s survival at the end of “Chapter 4,” a “John Wick 5” appears to be a more plausible scenario.
“I don’t know, I guess I’m going to have to lean on ‘never say never,'” Reeves commented to Entertainment Weekly after the release of “Chapter 4” when asked about the potential for another sequel. “I mean, I wouldn’t do a ‘John Wick’ film without [director] Chad Stahelski. We’d have to see what that looked like. For me, it feels really right that John Wick finds peace.”
John Wick’s potential demise served as the primary motivation for Keanu Reeves to embark on the creation of “John Wick: Chapter 4.” As Reeves explained during a post-screening Q&A at the SXSW Film Festival, “When Chad and I were discussing it, the ‘why’ revolves around death, and it was John Wick’s death. The reason to make the movie was for him to attain his peace or freedom in a certain manner. You need that ‘why.'”
In an interview with IndieWire, franchise producer Basil Iwanyk characterized the conclusion of “John Wick: Chapter 4” as “an ambiguous ending.” He further commented on Wick’s fate, stating, “I’ll put it this way: we don’t have a definitive answer.”
“There are essentially two characters,” Iwanyk continued. “There’s John Wick, the assassin, and then there’s John, the ordinary civilian. The question for all of us is, if the audience embraces the story, and if the box office proves successful, is there another narrative waiting to be explored? I can’t say for sure. However, I don’t believe we’ve confined ourselves to a specific outcome, whether he’s alive or deceased, by the end of this movie.”
Certainly, Lionsgate has no desire to bid farewell to Keanu Reeves just yet. “John Wick: Chapter 4” made franchise history with its remarkable $73.5 million opening, propelling the series past the $1 billion mark in global box office earnings. Regardless of whether a fifth installment materializes, the “John Wick” franchise will forge ahead in 2024 with the Ana de Armas-led spinoff titled “Ballerina,” featuring Reeves’ assassin in a supporting role.