In the run-up to last year’s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the expectation from all had been that the threequel would be the swan song of Keanu Reeves’ fan-favourite suited killer. Jumping around between continents and staging crazy sequences on bikes with swords or dogs in gunfights, it was certainly action-packed enough for a trilogy finale. However, a fourth film was then announced. And it’s a good thing that happened because it would appear that there was too much action for Chapter 3.
That’s what we learn from franchise director Chad Stahelski who revealed to THR that after their original plans to end the franchise after a third film changed, they held some stuff back that will now get used for the upcoming film.
There’s a couple things. We had a couple of overlapping thematics, and I stripped it down to the bare essentials. And there were two action sequences that we had really kind of conceived, but we just didn’t have room for them. So, we pulled them from the movie. And I’d like to think that 90 percent of what I pulled, there’s a place in John Wick 4 that I can definitely reinsert them.
The end of Chapter 3, which saw Reeves’ Wick betrayed and forced to reteam with his old Matrix partner in Laurence Fishburne’s The Bowery King, is a bit of a cliffhanger, so it’s a good thing there is a fourth film. Technically speaking though, all the films have had cliffhanger endings in a way, but that was never Stahelski and Reeves’ intention. They just didn’t think Wick would ever get a neatly tied-up ending.
On every John Wick, there’s literally been a day where Keanu and I have sat in the room with whatever writing team we’re working with and we go, “Okay, we’re going to end it right here and that’s it.” We’re not looking for the Hollywood happy ending; we never have. At least for the Wicks, we’ve always liked mythology and fables, or something like that, that just kind of end, and they don’t tell you what happens the next day.
We’ve always wanted to end the movies like that. We don’t mean for them to be cliffhangers. John Wick kills 80-some-odd people over a puppy. How do you wrap that one up with a happy ending? (Laughs.) You know what I mean? The story just kind of ends. That little journey or that little part of the journey ends. In Chapter 2, we ended how we thought it would end. In Chapter 3, we just ended it… He skated that one, and some people betrayed him. Just like in regular life, you have good and bad things happen on a great day, and he skated out. We didn’t mean it to be a cliffhanger.
Stahelski continued, explaining that this philosophy of just ending the story whenever they feel its done means that we could just get one more film, or we could get a whole lot more. It all depends on how they feel when doing it.
We label them chapters for a reason. If John Wick were a real character, we don’t think those kinds of stories end well for the protagonist, just due to the lifestyle they lead. So, at some point, when we think Mr. Wick has run his course, I’m sure his demise will be epic, but until then, we’re going to keep doing chapters and just tell the story, the myth or the fable for that portion of his day or that portion of his life. It’s just the kind of storytelling we like.
Even if John Wick 4 is the final chapter in this story though, the world of John Wick will continue. On top of the upcoming TV series spinoff, The Continental, we’re also getting a movie spinoff. Setup by a scene in Chapter 3, The Ballerina will follow a new character who was also put through the harsh training that Wick was to make her into a killer. With the character only being glimpsed in profile and shadows during the movie, we don’t much of what to expect from it.
We do know though that this was originally a standalone spec script about a ballerina/killer who goes after the rival gang who killed her family. We also learned later that Len Wiseman will be directing. What we didn’t know is that Wiseman was the one who actually came up with the idea of integrating this totally separate script into the world of John Wick and pitched it to Stahelski, with whom he had a long working relationship after collaborating on Live Free or Die Hard. But despite having worked together before, don’t think that Wiseman is just going to emulate the signature action style that Stahelski brought to John Wick though.
The director has a lot to do, especially someone as stylistic and as good as Len is. Having him on board and approaching some of the action design from a slightly different perspective, meaning the set pieces, the character involvement, how and what he wants to do during the action sequences, makes it kind of fresh. So, we’re not just copying ourselves over and over again with gun-fu or something like that. And because the character is different, we’re going to get a different take on things. But as far as the level, the competence or the style of action? Yes. I plan to be there to assist whenever I can. And our 87eleven stunt team will be very actively involved in helping Len in all his action needs.
As for the state of Ballerina right now, Stahelski says that Wiseman and Chatper 3 co-writer Shay Hatten (who penned the original spec script) are developing it right now. He does go on to say that “I’m not exactly sure what stage it’s at” but that everybody involved “would like to see [it] happen sooner rather than later.” It’s been rumoured that Chloe Grace Moretz is being looked at to lead (real-life ballerina Unity Phelan played the character in Chapter 3 with her face obscured), but thus far nothing official has been announced.
With John Wick: Chapter 4 already delayed by a year to May 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will probably be a while before we hear any solid announcements though.
Last Updated: June 2, 2020