How John Wick Can Continue Without Him

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John Wick

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for the John Wick franchise

John Wick: Chapter 4 is directed by Chad Stahelski and stars Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Donnie Yen, and Bill Skarsgård, among others. The movie seemed like the last in the franchise, and the plot ended on a pretty conclusive note. However, this is Hollywood, and the dead don’t often stay dead. There are already murmurings of a fifth installment of the franchise. Even how the final scene was structured implies the possibility for more. But does the John Wick franchise still need the title character to succeed?

Reeves is still one of the best action stars on screen. John Wick: Chapter 4 is a massive example of that, with his participation in stunts and action scenes serving as the gold standard. But he is getting older and may want to move on from the franchise. The four movies show the story of a man who can’t step away from the lifestyle of an assassin. His war against the Table slowly revealed a world full of fascinating history and traditions. Where favors are bought with cards, and positions are filled instantly when someone is killed. A whole world was created, threatening to be bigger than the character who birthed it. There are so many possibilities for more through this world and the mechanics. 

John Wick: Chapter 4 could arguably have been preparing for continuing the series without involving Wick by introducing multiple new characters who didn’t get complete arcs. At the center of this is Rina Sawayama’s Akira. She is the concierge of the Osaka Continental and is one of the only survivors of the attack from the Table. She witnesses her father die at the hands of Caine (Yen) and swears revenge if John Wick doesn’t kill him himself. This revenge story was served on a silver platter and wasn’t even wrapped up properly, so it needs to have a conclusion. There is also the Tracker, or “Mr. Nobody,” as he is referred to in the movie, played by Shamier Anderson. He is a figure that joined the hunt for Wick, but always as an outsider. He isn’t part of the hierarchy but knows about it and knows how to track Wick. While his arc is brilliant in the movie, I don’t believe he is finished. Both newcomers brought something different to the fourth movie, so much so that Wick was almost secondary for large parts of the plot. And Akira, in particular, could carry a film through her rage alone.

It isn’t just those introduced in John Wick: Chapter Four that could carry the torch of that universe without Reeves. There are stalwarts still there, especially in New York. McShane and Laurence Fishburne are still alive as Winston and the Bowery King, respectively, and will likely seek to reestablish themselves in the city again. The characters have been one of the most underrated aspects of the series, as the focus is essentially and rightly placed on the stunts and action. 

John Wick 4 - But Why Tho

It would be unfair to say that John Wick’s impact would disappear from the franchise because what could unfold in future movies or other mediums all started from what he did. In the third and fourth movies, a sense of discontent can be felt throughout the world of the assassins. With the Table sometimes clamping down and downright massacring those breaking the rules, it felt like a revolution was in the air. New York’s continental was leveled, and Osaka was purged. Those dragged out of retirement and threatened didn’t leave the organization happily. Wick was trying to kill the whole Table but could not defeat a hydra on his own. But he also tore through a lot of it. While he may be gone, his friends remembered what they did. It would be so fascinating to see the consequences of that crusade. 

It should be remembered, however, that there is more involved in making John Wick the powerhouse that it is than Reeves. The direction has been magnificent from Stahelski, as the stuntman-turned-director focused on the action first. His influence is crucial to the identity of that universe. Not just that, but the lighting and the neon colors included in all four films are so vital to the look of the film that something else, even a new director, might just break the connection.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for the John Wick franchise, but I ultimately don’t believe Chapter Four to be the conclusion. Reeves’ story for Wick had a satisfying ending, and it would be absolutely fine if that were how one of the most infallible men chooses to go out. The quadrilogy has given us some of the finest fight scenes Western cinemas have seen in decades, and that legacy would be untarnished. And it is so surprising to be able to talk about how that world could live when it was born out of a man seeking revenge on a man for killing his dog and stealing his car. But it would also be a huge shame to let the unfinished business be forgotten. The Akira story threat is the biggest thread left untied, but this world has much to uncover. John Wick’s world can live on while the man himself rests.

John Wick: Chapter Four is playing in theaters now. 

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