Keanu Reeves Told the “John Wick: Chapter 4” Team He Wanted Wick to Die at the End
Making a movie is a lot of work. It can be a grueling (if rewarding) experience for everyone, yet it’s safe to say that the level of exhaustion Keanu Reeves feels after filming a John Wick installment is profound. Reeves notoriously pours his heart and soul into filming the action-heavy franchise, which included performing one of the series’ most massively intricate fight scenes in the original 2014 John Wick with a 103-degree temperature (revealed by co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski in the director’s commentary for the film.) “We were pretty dialed in that it was gonna be Keanu [performing the action],” Stahelski said. “He actually had the flu and about a 103-degree fever. He had it rough, all the days to be ill. You couldn’t even get him to sit down. He just did take after take. You can’t film sequences like this unless you’ve got a cast member who goes through so much training, and that’s Keanu. Best guy in the business for that.”
Yet by the time 2023’s John Wick: Chapter 4 rolled around, Reeves was ready to put in one more final momentous performance and call it a day. Speaking with Collider, John Wick producer Basil Iwanyk revealed that Reeves was ready for Wick to be retired—permanently—via a noble death at the end of Chapter 4.
“After the second, third, and fourth movie, making these films is so exhausting, and it destroys Keanu, physically and emotionally,” Iwanyk told Collider. “By the end, he’s always like, ‘I can’t do this again,’ and we agree with him. The guy is just a shell of himself because he just goes off and goes for it. He was like, ‘I wanna be definitively killed at the end of this movie. We were like, ‘You know, we’ll leave a 10% little opening,” Iwanyk said.
John Wick: Chapter 4 ended with what appeared to be a very noble death, and even some peace, for the hardest-working semi-retired assassin in the business. Wick faced off against Donnie Yen’s Caine in a duel; the winner would be freed forever from the clutches of the High Table. In the third round of the duel, Wick is seemingly fatally wounded, and after one final coup de grace against Bill Skarsgård’s insipid Marquis, he apparently dies on the steps of the Sacré Coeur in Paris, expiring while seeing a vision of his late wife, Helen. The film ends with his old friends Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) standing by his graveside.
Director Chad Stahelski had already revealed to Empire that they’d tested an alternate ending in which Wick survived the duel, but audiences preferred the ambiguous ending that included John’s grave.
So, Reeves asked for Wick to be really and truly killed, and his team obliged with a beautiful but ambiguous ending, leaving open more than enough wiggle room to start exploring John Wick: Chapter 5. Reeves himself has revised his original desire for Wick to definitively be killed by telling Entertainment Weekly he’s somewhat open to the idea of returning, with caveats.
“I don’t know, I guess I’m going to have to lean on ‘never say never,’” Reeves told EW. “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.”
Perhaps he’ll find peace, for real this time, at the end of Chapter 5.
For more on John Wick, check out these stories:
Featured image: Chad Stahelski – Director/Producer and Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close