“John Wick: Chapter 3” director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves were partially motivated to make a fourth chapter in the action franchise because they felt they had disappointed audiences with the finale to the third installment, the filmmaker said in a recent “Happy Sad Confused” podcast interview.
Speaking to podcast host Josh Horowitz in an episode aired Monday, Stahelski stated, “We did the third movie and then we were really done… We’re like, ‘We’re done.’ And then again, it was a year later, Keanu and I both felt like we kind of let everybody down with the ending of No. 3.”
At the conclusion of the 2019 actioner, Wick helps Winston (Ian McShane) retake control of the Continental. However, he is betrayed by his colleague and shot several times before stumbling off the hotel roof. In the film’s final moments, the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) carts our inexplicably alive protagonist to his underground hideout, where Wick voices his intent to take his revenge.
It was an unexpected cliffhanger for what was supposed to be the final film in the series. Still, strong reviews and a towering $321 million global gross followed, including strong domestic legs ($173 million from a $56 million launch) in a crowded summer movie season.
“I think it was well received, but it was kind of, like, people really like John and they’re like, ‘What the f–k, guys?’ You know, that was an action ending, great. But okay, what the f–k? Tough talking mythology here and you didn’t really wrap it up. And we started talking more and more, and we just felt like we didn’t leave everything we had on the table.”
Four years later, “John Wick: Chapter 4” debuted to rave reviews and franchise-best box office. It would earn $435 million worldwide on a $100 million budget. It also, incidentally, provided a far more definitive ending for its hero.
Reeves and Stahelski would not be the first filmmakers to make a sequel because they had misgivings about a prior installment. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas famously viewed the lighter and more comedic “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” as a quasi-apology for the comparatively grim, dark and frightening “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” As with the “John Wick” series, plenty of folks like both respective installments just fine.