The conclusion to the fourth outing of the action series proved to be a shock for fans. Despite the film’s titular character winning his climactic duel against Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard), he sustains a seemingly fatal gunshot wound. After uttering the name of his late wife, Helen, (who died in the opening of the first John Wick film), he appears to die. The final scene shows Winston (Ian McShane) standing at Wick’s grave.
At the film’s premiere at the South By Southwest Film & TV Festival, a fan asked Reeves and Stahelski about the ending.
“We had the opportunity [to do another film] because of the audience [response to] Chapter Three, and we were like, ‘What was the ‘why?’” Reeves said. “And when Chad and I was talking, the ‘why’ was death — and it was John Wick’s death. For him to get his peace, or freedom, in a way…that was the reason to make 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 is a Japanese code of ethics. A book devoted to its teachings, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, is 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 the theme,” Stahelski said.
Reeves also said that Wick’s death scene was his favourite in the film. “If I just looked at from [the perspective of] John — John Wick — maybe him at the end on the stairs,” he says. “When he says, ‘Helen.’ That, for me, after like eight years of playing the role and after shooting the [massive fight on the other set of stairs], that part that was [a poignant link] to the past.”
While the ending of Chapter Four would suggest the book has closed on John Wick, the post-credits scene could leave room for a spin-off focused on Donnie Yen’s Caine or Rina Sawayama’s Akira.
Speaking to NME about bringing Sawayama on board for her first acting role, Stahelski explained that he contacted Sawayama after seeing her music videos. “I knew very little about her beforehand,” the director said. “I was exposed to her as we were casting the role of Akira.
“We’d seen her music videos and just something about her look and something about her performances in her music videos was… she seemed right out of an anime, and Japanese anime is a big influence for this.”