Jonathan, what have you done? Um, he’s slaughtered his way through an endless herd of goons to achieve an incredible box office. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum attracted 6.3 million people to the theaters last weekend, crushing the 5.2 million total attendance of the first film. What began as the little action indie that could, has transformed into a Hollywood dominator that cannot possibly be contained within a trilogy. Meeting this obvious demand for more, Lionsgate immediately announced that John Wick: Chapter 4 is scheduled to hit theaters on May 21, 2021. Keanu Reeves better arrange a round of physical therapy to prepare his body for another melee of bone-crunching violence.
↓Spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum↓
Despite the film’s cliffhanger climax, Chad Stahelski told us that they were not contemplating a Chapter 4 when they finished Chapter 3, yet he also said that he would welcome the “pleasant anxiety” of concocting another round of mayhem for John Wick (Reeves). Even beyond the final shots of the latest entry and the new rageful station our hero finds himself occupying, there is still plenty of mythology to explore within the universe of The High Table. A resolution will probably always be out of reach for John Wick, but that doesn’t mean a few questions surrounding his world couldn’t be answered.
In the spirit of the sequels, John Wick: Chapter 4 needs to pick up right where the last one leaves off. That means we’re still stuck in the most violent year in history, 2014. As a result of the endless boss battles he’s conquered throughout three films, the Baba Yaga is a wreck of broken bones and torn ligaments. He needs time to heal, and he should do so as one of the hidden agents of The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), who in turn is looking to quench some of his own High Table hate.
Taking lessons from the Tick Tock Man (Jason Mantzoukas), Wick disappears into the shadows of New York City. He’s unrecognizable from the man we knew before. He wears the last bulletproof suit we saw him in, but it’s caked in mud, blood, and sweat. He’s bundled in other rags, and his beard is wild and mangy. It’s an uncomfortable sight, and now it’s what we want for him. John Wick is one of the faceless, Valar Morghulis. Sorry, wrong franchise.
Where John Wick once reigned atop a pile of corpses, he now finds himself at the bottom, crushed by the weight of his vengeance quest. His good dog sits by his side but still does not have a name. Wick dares not offer such affection to another living animal as emotion leads only to more grief. All he has is his rage and the amenities gifted to him by The Bowery King’s underworld.
Once a few of his wounds heal, just enough to get him back on two feet again, The Continental is Wick’s first stop in toppling The High Table. While Winston (Ian McShane) certainly elected not to assassinate his friend by firing a few tactical shots into his bulletproof suit, he still nearly killed Wick when the man went head-over-heels to the hard concrete below. Good intentions or not, Wick will need some answers from the hotel manager. No one in the audience wants an all-out war between these one-time allies, but every action requires equal and opposite reaction, and this uncomfortable stain on their relationship must be reconciled.
Chapter 3 finally allowed Charon (Lance Reddick) in on the action, and as part of the healing process between Wick and Winston, I’d love to see the Concierge match fists with the Continental’s most popular guest. A solid ten-minute bout between the two would be the perfect capper to the first act of the movie. Leaving both men exhausted and bruised but united in combat. The final moments of the sequence being an opportunity for Charon to clean the Bowery stink from Wick, kicking off the second act with a montage akin to Chapter 2 when Wick gets strapped for his catacombs confrontation in Rome.
Winston and Wick make amends, but the Continental manager cannot join the war against the High Table. He’s already had his skirmish and cannot afford to lose what clout his power play gained him. Wick is still on his own. Almost.
Act One leaves the Continental behind only to see Sophia (Halle Berry) enter. For her strike against Berrada (Jerome Flynn), The High Table goes after the daughter Wick once secreted away. Not only do Wick and Sophia partner in the action, but so do the nut-munching German Shepherds alongside Wick’s nameless hound. I refuse to settle for just one doggie scrimmage in the franchise.
We should probably never fully understand the full extent of The High Table. With every new character revelation, like The Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), and The Director (Anjelica Huston), comes even more questions as to the economics and government of this diabolical organization. Chapter 4 requires new additions — a Bookkeeper, a Blacksmith, a Buckaroo, or whatever — but for every glimpse they give into the world, we should still be left scratching our heads regarding the absurdity of business.
Similar to the James Bond franchise, John Wick has placed its characters all over the globe. We’ve seen the streets of New York City, Rome, and Morocco paved in blood, and Chapter 4 demands equally lush scenery to splash red upon. China seems like an obvious bet for a franchise hoping to score an even larger global appeal, but I’m thinking Thailand or Indonesia might be more appropriate to the action. As Only God Forgives revealed, Bangkok’s criminal network provides lots of delicious neon for cinematographer Dan Lausten to exploit, but in the towers of Jakarta, Wick could finish the fight he had with The Raid 2 co-stars Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. I can’t decide on one or the other, so let’s just do both.
While he’s tearing up the streets of Jakarta, he’s going to need some mean wheels, and this gives Chapter 4 the opportunity to return John Leguizamo to the franchise. Last seen in Chapter 2 promising to return Wick’s Ford Mustang to pristine condition sometime around Christmas 2030, Aurelio drops the keys in his pal’s hands several years ahead of schedule. With Good Dog riding shotgun, John Wick concludes Chapter 4 bashing the Mustang into an armada of High Table racers. The car will have to go back into the shop before the credits roll.
The most important aspect of Chapter 4 will be how it leaves our protagonist. Whether the box office continues to rise or not doesn’t matter. Part of the appeal of the series is the infinite journey. There can be no end to John Wick. Death, maybe, but let’s hold off on that til at least John Wick: Chapter X after Wick gets an upgrade and battles the sci-fi descendants of the High Table. Although, do we really want him to leave that gorgeously gory year of 2014? Not really. Each entry should only just be a week or two away from the death of his Daisy puppy. Until he can gain some actual distance from that tragedy, he’ll be trapped in perpetual misery. That’s the way we like him.