This John Wick: Chapter 4 article contains spoilers.
Even before the end credits run, John Wick: Chapter 4 is an exhausting movie. Exhilarating, but exhausting.
The latest, and potentially last, part of the Baba Yaga’s violent quest for puppy revenge lasts almost three hours, and nearly every second of the screen is filled with breathtaking action. By the time the closing credits roll, we might feel like John Wick, barely stumbling to the top of the Sacré Coeur staircase. And when the screen lights up again for one more scene after the credits, we might feel like Wick getting knocked down those stairs, forced to ascend them once again.
Those who did stick around for the last scene were treated to a glimpse of potential things to come. Freed from his obligations to the High Table, blind swordsman Caine (Donnie Yen) goes to visit his daughter. But the reunion is cut short by the arrival of Akira (Rina Sawayama), herself armed with a sword. Akira has come to avenge the death of her father Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada), manager of the Osaka Continental who was killed by Caine for defending John. Akira draws her weapon, approaches Caine, and…
Cut to black.
Even the most exhausted moviegoer cannot help but feel hungry for more after such an abrupt ending. And that’s exactly why director Chad Stahelski changed his original plans for the scene. Speaking with Collider, Stahelski revealed that he first shot a more definitive close to the clash between Akira and Caine.
“[T]here’s a real scene that goes along, like Donnie coming up, you think he’s got it, and then Rina goes and gets him, and there’s this whole death scene with Donnie Yen dying,” Stahelski explained. “We had a whole thing where you actually see the demise.”
That would have been quite a shock, even in a movie that features hundreds of dead bodies. After all, we did witness the death of John Wick himself. His mission to destroy the High Table completed by killing the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), John is ready to die, especially after ensuring that Caine has satisfied the High Table’s demands.
But it’s exactly John’s death that convinced Stahelski and his collaborators to change the scene. After all, while the movies are called John Wick, the four entries created a rich and compelling world that goes beyond Wick himself. So as Chapter 4 ended, Stahelski thought, “Well, let’s open the door to the new John.” And as soon as he and the other filmmakers asked, “Who’s the new…” one word jumped to mind: “Akira.” In light of that observation, editor Nathan Orloff asked, “What if we don’t see it? What if you leave the audience to that? What’s the choice?”
Of course, if John Wick: Chapter 4‘s box-office dominance proves to be as unstoppable as its title character, the audience won’t have to write the story themselves for long. The audience will want more mayhem in the shadow of the High Table. And if John Wick has finally earned his well-deserved rest, Akira has plenty of energy to spare.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters now.