The Case for John Wick 4 Being the End of His Story

John Wick: Chapter 4 — which will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, and DVD on Jun. 13 — is a marvel of action-cinema, an epic adventure that only becomes more powerful as a result of its final moments. After four films of non-stop fighting, John Wick finally lays down his weapons and dies, finding the peace he’d long sought.
It’s an emotionally resonant ending, which could be upended by the character’s potential return in the recently announced John Wick 5. But just because the world introduced in these films can continue doesn’t mean John himself should. In fact, undoing his death would rob the series of its emotional throughline and prevent it from growing into something new. John’s apparent death in John Wick: Chapter 4 needs to be the case in any follow-ups, even if that means Keanu Reeves’ involvement in the series is severely reduced.
How John Wick: Chapter 4 Closed the Book on John’s Character Arc
The conclusion of John Wick: Chapter 4 feels like the inevitable final stage for the titular character, a send-off he would appreciate. Despite his repeated efforts to escape the world of murder and mayhem around him, John is forced to work his way through hundreds of would-be killers, finally finding his final opponent in the form of Caine. The two have a duel, using pistols to settle their respective debts and feuds with The High Table. In the end, John is fatally wounded but still gets the opportunity to kill the Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont, freeing Caine from his debt to The High Table representative and saving Winston’s life.

John has enough life left in him to walk the stairs of the church and get a view of the sunrise, thinking of his dead wife as he seemingly fades from his injuries. The film doesn’t explicitly show John’s death, but it’s clear what the intention at the moment is — only further solidified by subsequent shots of John’s grave next to his wife. Since the film’s release, though, some fans have suggested John could have survived his injuries. And the apparent development of John Wick 5 could be seen as a suggestion that the franchise will go in that direction. But just because the franchise may continue doesn’t mean the character will carry on. In fact, John’s death is the perfect ending for that character and shouldn’t be undone in any follow-ups.

Why John Wick’s Death Should Stick

Being the end of John’s story, John Wick: Chapter 4 gives the film and its lengthy third act a sense of closure that can’t usually be found in blockbuster cinema these days. While the world John inhabited is still there — and set to be further explored in stuff like The Ballerina and the Peacock prequel series The Continental — John’s lengthy quest for freedom and peace concluded with him finding those things. Undoing John’s death wouldn’t just fly in the face of the emotional throughline present in the film, but it would also take John beyond his already wild endurance and capabilities. It would effectively turn John into a superhero, incapable of dying by conventional measures — which would remove any stakes to any future action sequences focused on the character. It’d also likely invite inevitable comparisons to John Wick: Chapter 4, and given the impressive action of that film, it’d be a self-inflicted criticism levied at any film directly trying to top it.
In regard to the franchise’s future, John has far more power in death than in life. John’s actions in the film saved a scant few of his allies and propelled some (like The Bowery King and Katia) into new positions of power. John’s infamous worldwide adventure might convince others they can fight back against The High Table, potentially setting the stage for something like The Ballerina to go in an unpredictable direction.
John could also become something truly unstoppable in death, proof that there are ways to be free of a syndicate that seems to operate in all fields of life. The power vacuum left in John’s wake opens the possibility of pure chaos in the world of John Wick, which could allow for any number of established or even new characters to take center stage. This could even open the door for flashbacks to John or imagined conversations with him, allowing Reeves to return without undoing the weight of John’s fate. John’s death is fitting for the overall narrative of the character’s growth. But the practical reasons not to bring him back and the potential for more distinct follow-ups should hopefully allow John to remain buried.

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