John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Movie Ending Explained: Action films, like horror movies, run the risk of becoming weary, predictable, and hollow. Both genres are popular among mainstream audiences, leading to saturated markets and orders to follow strict formulas that executives know will guarantee ticket sales. Instead of the jump-scares, teen protagonists, and haunted houses, we find in horror, action flicks are required to feature fight sequences, weapons, and quick-cut editing that speeds the pace along.
On surface level, the John Wick franchise looks like another run-of-the-mill action series that blends into the background: fights, guns, explosions, and arrogant baddies reeling off long speeches before defeat. A retired hit-man returns to take revenge? It’s not a new plot-line, but director Chad Stahelski makes it feel like it with his singular revitalization of the worn-out genre.
John Wick chiefly stands out because of its tone. By infusing elements of neo-noir (a modernized revival of Old Hollywood film noir, where shady detectives and femme fatales smoke in the shadows, influenced by German Expressionism), John Wick is given the depth and dimension most action franchises lack. It was also one of the first movies to shoot action scenes with a long take, and served as Keanu Reeve’s big comeback after a string of poor box office returns.
The First John Wick
John Wick was first released in 2014 after struggling to secure finances and distribution. Its unconventional features made the script a hard sell to safe-playing studios, but it ended up a huge success and spawned three more sequels. Stahelski opens to an ex-assassin in mourning—with his wife and career gone, Johnathan “John” Wick has nothing in his life but his pet beagle…until Russian gangsters kill it and steal John’s car.
It soon becomes clear that John is a hailed and feared hitman in the New York City underworld, as the Russian mafia—who had no idea they were ripping off the infamous Wick—fear John’s impending wrath. A succession of carefully choreographed fight scenes, noir-style rainstorms and witty one-liners follows this set up, and Keanu continues fighting the mob into the next three movies.
John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis
The fourth installment of John Wick hit UK theatres in March 2023, and was praised by everyday viewers and critics alike. The franchise benefits from having the same director (and writer— Derek Kolstad) for every movie, maintaining a level tone and pace that made the first one so popular. For John Wick: Chapter 4, Stahelski persists in referencing to the cyberpunk visuals found in films like Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott, 1982), where neon cityscapes and symmetry make it a treat for the eyes.
Keanu Reeves delivers his usual calibre of acting in his fourth appearance as the focused, wilful man-of-few-words John Wick, similar to Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders (2013-2022). In Chapter 4, John goes to Morocco to kill The Elder—head of the High Table, who govern the mythical criminal underworld. In response, Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård)—another member of the High Table—destroys the New York Continental Hotel to punish its manager Winston (Ian McShane), who failed to kill John earlier in the franchise.
A retired High Table assassin Caine (Donnie Yen) is hired to kill John instead, who finds him hiding in the Osaka Continental. John manages to fight his way out an onslaught of assassins, alongside the (wounded) owner’s daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama). John meets with Winston who advises him to duel Marquis. This would not only stop the chase, but also free John of his contract to serve the High Table. To do this, John must duel on behalf of a crime family, so agrees to murder a German High Table senior in exchange for representing a family in Berlin.
Once everything is made official, John and Marquis agree their terms, with Marquis nominating Caine to fight in his name. Suited, booted and armed, John just about makes it to the duel despite all the obstacles Marquis puts in his way. John is shot three times but manages to kill Marquis, who takes over from Caine in the final round of pistol-duelling. Freed from his oath to the High Table, John finally finds peace before dying from his wounds.
John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023): Ending Explained
Post-credit Scene and Sequel
Nowadays, blockbusters love to include a post-credit scene—both to keep viewers engaged (and therefore keep the movie on their mind even after leaving the theater) and set-up the next installment. A spin-off movie about a ballerina-assassin (played by Unity Phelan) from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) has already been confirmed, as well as a TV series centering on Winston’s hotel (The Continental). When Akira reappears in John Wick: Chapter 4’s post-credit scene, it’s suggested she will return for the fifth John Wick movie to avenge her father.
But wait, how can there be a fifth John Wick movie if John Wick is dead? Stahelski hasn’t given a clear answer to this question, stating the series has evolved “organically” so it all depends on whether a fifth movie feels natural to make. We never technically see John’s corpse, and in a franchise built on lore, legend and indestructible hit-men verging on the magical, a resurrection wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine.
John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Movie Review
Although audiences found the 169-minute runtime a little lengthy, John Wick: Chapter 4 is worth sitting through for the tension, spectacle and payoff. Having John meet his end (for now) is a refreshing surprise for the genre, who usually keep their untouchable title characters immortal for future movies (and profits). Plus, there’s a lot of ancient-meets-urban mythology to pack into the film—another unique feature of the John Wick franchise. Reeves moves through the movie with control and slick violence, harking back to the 1940s as a mix of both the criminal and the detective archetypes of classical film noir.