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Is John Wick Actually Dead? The Ending To The 4th Installment Was Deliberately Ambiguous

"When you do bad things, bad things happen."
John Wick Dead
Image: Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

REALLY BIG SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’ve seen John Wick 4, you might be wondering the question as the credits roll, is John Wick really dead?

The fourth installment of the acclaimed John Wick series picks right up after John Wick 3: Parabellum. In this movie, the highly trained assassin uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

In an interview with Looper, Keanu Reeves explained why he admired doing the series as John Wick for four movies. “I love the world of John Wick. I love the opportunity and the storytelling. We really are inventing it, and I’m a part of that. It’s great to play in the sandbox of the “John Wick” world and to continue to explore and create.” He also talked about the arduous filming. “We filmed over 100 days, and we filmed mostly nights. When we do an action sequence, it’s about 10, 11 hours, so it’s getting up and doing it again and doing it again and trying to realize the dream of the sequence. It’s recovery … but that’s the greatest challenge, to be able to hit that John Wick bar day after day.”

So with the actor himself very willing to make more films in the franchise, is John Wick dead for real? Read more below to find out.

Is John Wick dead?

John Wick
Image: Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

Is John Wick dead? THIS IS WHERE THE BIG SPOILERS ARE. At the end of John Wick 4, John Wick is embroiled in a battle between Caine (played by Donnie Yen) and Marquis Vincent De Gramont (played by Bill Skarsgård). Caine fired two shots at the assassin who is mortally wounded. Wick shoots his last shot at De Gramont and kills him instantly. Wick is granted freedom from the High Table by the Harbinger and he bleeds out from his injuries while watching the sunset. Continental Hotel manager Winston and his friend the Bowery King visit Wick and his wife’s grave at the end of the movie. But…is he REALLY dead?

In an interview with ScreenRant, Stahleski talked about the decision to kill off John Wick in this movie. “John has to make a choice. It’s not about him and Caine, it’s about Caine living for something more important than either of them. That’s an interesting dilemma to figure out. That was not an easy thing on paper to go, ‘That makes sense.’ You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to live or die for your reason.’ But I think you get that right in the scene, and that’s the interesting thing to really put together.”

He continued, “It was that one little piece of the puzzle that pretty much locked Keanu and I in. You can’t just go, ‘I’m going to kill off my lead. I’m going to not kill off my lead. I’m going to be subversive and make you think I killed off my lead.’ That’s not the point. The point is choice. John made a choice to do something bigger than himself, or to save someone else that was not even in the movie. That’s interesting to me.”

“The thought process was, when we had the opportunity after Chapter 3, what was the ‘why’?” Reeves answered at a post-screening Q&A at the SXSW Film & TV Festival. “When Chad and I were talking about it, the ‘why’ is death, and it was John Wick’s dead. For him to get his peace or his freedom in a way, that was the reason to make the movie. You gotta have the ‘why.’”

Reeves also elaborated on the explanation of how the ending came to be. “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 explained. “And when Chad and I was talking, the Why? was death — and it was John Wick’s death.”

He continued, “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 spiritual guide for a warrior outlined back to Japanese samurai’s in the 17th century.

Stahleski told Rolling Stone that whether John Wick is dead or not is totally up to the viewer. “Whether you think John — or John Wick — is dead, that’s your interpretation. These movies are supposed to be mythological fables, and there are consequences. When you do bad things, bad things happen. If there is another way for John to get out of this, or another way to have a satisfying conclusion to this particular journey, I’m happy to hear it. But you can’t do a whole series about consequence and fate without showing consequence and fate. You have to bring it full-circle. Now, did John allow that all to happen just so he could go back to John? I love films or books that are open to interpretation.”

Is there going to be a John Wick 5?

John Wick 4
Image: Lionsgate / Courtesy Everett Collection

Is there going to be a John Wick 5? The big question after John Wick is (presumably) dead is if there will be more movies in the saga. In August 2020, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer revealed that John Wick 5 was already in the works before filming John Wick 4. 

Though we might have to wait a while because Chad Stahleski said that he and Keanu are taking a break. “In our minds, Keanu and I are done for the moment. We’re going to give John Wick a rest. I’m sure the studio has a plan. If everyone loves it and it goes kooky, then we’ll take a quiet minute.” He also told the outlet that Lionsgate wasn’t very keen on them taking a break, “The response was, ‘What are you fucking thinking?’ The note was, ‘Are you fucking insane?’” Stahelski tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And Keanu and I just smiled and said, ‘Yeah.’ We decided we wanted to tie everything together, and we were like, ‘How do you give a proper goodbye?’ So that’s how we sold it to the studio because, at some point, this has gotta end, man.”

Though there’s more to everything in the John Wick cinematic universe. Ballerina, a spin-off of assassin Rooney (played by Ana de Armas) who is vengeful of the murders of her family. Reeves is expected to star as John Wick again in this spin-off. He said while promoting JW4 at CCXP in 2022 that Rooney is a “woman who has some very difficult circumstances and who’s looking for revenge. Whoever killed her- someone killed her father. Who could that be? And so it’s her journey for actually understanding her past. She lost her father at a young age, and she doesn’t really know what happened. Only that someone came into the house and killed her father, who had a tattoo. And as we know in John Wick, if you have a tattoo, something’s going on.”

With the suspenseful ending of the end credit scene in John Wick 4, there may be a door opened for Akira (played by Rina Sawayama) to have her story told. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Stahleski explained how he got the pop star to star in the fourth movie. “Well we were looking to cast Akira, we’d written that part and we were on the hunt for someone. Late one night in Berlin, I was just going through YouTube and I just literally typed in “Japanese pop star”, I swear to god. There was a music video of Rina and she had this orange wig on, and I just thought she had a really interesting look. The way she moved and how her face changed in different angles, there was something about her I just really dug. A day later we had her on a Zoom call going, ‘hey, how would you like to be in a John Wick movie?'”

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