John Wick: Chapter 4 Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The finale of the film John Wick: Chapter 4: the death of a hero – dramatization. John Wick: Chapter 4 The scene after the titles, the ending, the plot summary, the explanation, whether the hero died, the meaning of the movie, will there be a 5th part, similar movie.

Country: USA, Germany

Genre: Action

Year of production: 2023

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Bill Skarsgård, Ian McShane, Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada

Slogan: “There will always be someone with more authority than you.” or “Baba Yaga”.

Awards & Nominations: Nominated for 2023 MTV Award for Best Movie Fight

The authors tried to make the meaning of the film John Wick: Chapter 4 deeper than in the previous parts, having written in more detail the world of assassins and adding a little philosophy and mysteries. Most of the questions from the audience were caused by the ending, which, it would seem, puts an end to the adventures of the protagonist.

John Wick chronology

First of all, let us recall the summary of the first three parts of the franchise.

John Wick – Chapter 1

The action takes place in an alternative universe where all power belongs to secret criminal organizations united in a single community. A hired killer named John Wick, who has tied up with a criminal past, loses his beloved, who became the meaning of his life. She dies of cancer, leaving behind a puppy as a memento and comfort in her grief. The hero loses him too: bandits break into John’s house, kill a dog and steal a car. The initiator of the attack is the son of the leader of the Russian mafia, Viggo Tarasov. The hero hunts for him, along the way killing everyone who tries to stop him. In between action scenes, viewers are introduced to the criminal world of New York, in particular, to its key place – the Continental Hotel. Revenge is taking place. In the finale, the hero finds a new pet – a pit bull.

Keanu ReevesKeanu Reeves as John Wick. Frame from the film.

John Wick Chapter 2

A few days after the events of the first part, John Wick finds a car stolen from him, making peace with the remnants of the Russian mafia. However, the criminal community does not leave the hero alone. This time he is visited by the head of the Camorra (Neapolitan mafia) Santino De Antonio and gives a new order for the murder. Having fulfilled it, the hero pays off a long-standing debt, fixed in blood in a medallion called a Promissory Note. But he immediately becomes a target for Santino’s people, since the latter framed John in this way. After killing hordes of enemies, the hero eventually comes to the customer of his murder and takes his life right in the Continental Hotel. Since this is a flagrant violation of the criminal code, the Administration (the structure responsible for the proper operation of the rules of the underworld) declares John Wick Excommunicado an exile.

John Wick Chapter 3

The hero is pursued by hordes of killers who want to get huge money for killing him. John asks for asylum from the head of the New York branch of the Russka Roma clan of Belarusian gypsies, whose headquarters is located in the ballet theater. Among these people the childhood of the hero passed. From a conversation with the head of the clan, we learn the real name of John – Jordani Yovanovitch. The hero is helped to escape to Casablanca (Morocco), where, after another adventure with shootings, he ends up with the supreme ruler of criminal organizations – the Elder. The latter, in exchange for forgiveness, orders John to kill his friend, the head of the New York hotel “Continental” Winston, who did not want to leave his post and thus dared to contradict the clans. Returning to New York, the hero refuses to follow the order.

John WickFrame from the 3rd part of the movie John Wick.

Then the Board of Clans (High Table) starts a massacre in the hotel. After her, only Winston, his concierge Charon and John Wick survive. The judge representing the interests of the Board of Clans makes concessions to the head of the New York “Continental”, officially returning this position to him. But John Wick is still Excommunicado, so Winston, demonstrating his loyalty to the clans, shoots his comrade.

Injured, John falls from the roof down, where he is picked up by members of the Charity Canteen clan of New York vagrants, who now have their own scores with the criminal elite.

What is John Wick 4 about?

Now let’s move on to the description of the plot of John Wick 4.

The action takes place in New York, where John Wick and the king of the vagrants Bowery are planning a war with the Board of Clans. The film begins with the latter quoting lines from Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy and lighting a coffin-like fiery symbol.

The hero returns to the desert of Morocco. At sunrise, he pursues and kills the servants of the Elder, but he does not find the former Elder. Instead, he is a different person. John wants his freedom and the wedding ring he left here along with his ring finger as a sign of allegiance to the Rule of Clans. But the new Elder cannot give that. He says that no one can escape from himself and from the Board, and the only way to gain freedom is death. John Wick replies that he knows all this and kills the new Elder.

Donnie YenThe role of Cain was played by Donnie Yen. Frame from the film.

The enraged Board sends the Marquis Vincent Bisset De Gramont, whom he gives unlimited powers, to finally deal with John Wick and those who helped him. And first, the Marquis takes on the head of the New York “Continental” Winston.

The Messenger of the Board comes to him and begins the countdown to punishment. Winston, along with concierge Charon, heading for an audience with Vincent, talk about humility and at the same time disobedience, which are contained in the dying words of the famous robber Ned Kelly: “Such is life.” By order of the Marquis, the New York Continental is blown up, Charon is killed, and Winston is declared the same exile as John Wick – Excommunicado.

The audience is introduced to a new character – the blind assassin Cain. In exchange for the life of his daughter, Vincent orders him to kill John Wick, who is Cain’s longtime friend.

The hero is hiding in Osaka (Japan), in the local Continental Hotel, which is also run by John’s old friend Shimazu and his daughter Akira. The girl understands that this threatens her and her father with danger, but he cannot but save his friend. Shimazu talks with John about life and death, and at this time a new squad of assassins is already arriving at the hotel, including Cain. An epic battle is underway. In her final showdown, Jon and Cain converge. The hero is almost defeated, but a mysterious black killer with a sheepdog intervenes in the fight, designated as the Pathfinder in the script. He stops Cain from killing John, as he wants to do it himself when the price is high enough. Immediately, the Administration raises it to $20 million.

John escapes while Cain fights Shimazu. The last one dies. Kain leaves the wounded Akira alive and says that he will be waiting for her. After all, he knows that the girl wants to avenge her father.

Laurence FishburneLaurence Fishburne stars as King Bowery. Frame from the film.

The herald speaks with the marquis, showing incomprehension of his bloody methods. Vincent replies that he is doing everything right and his main task is to kill the very idea of ​​​​John Wick.

The Pathfinder talks to Vincent, calling himself Mister Nobody. The Marquis stabs his arm with a knife, giving him a choice without a choice. This is what Pathfinder Cain had just warned about. To show his allegiance to the Rule of Clans, Mr. Nobody must free himself without drawing the knife from his hand, which he does.

John Wick climbs the stairs, on the steps of which are written lines from Virgil’s Aeneid:

“If I do not bow the heavenly gods

I will shake Acheron

Let them hate, if only they were afraid

To hell with you and the horse under you

Death is my reward

Think about the outcome ahead”

John meets with Winston, who buried Charon. On the tombstone there is an inscription in Latin: “We live to die”, or “The living is the dead”.

John shows Winston the sign of the Marquis de Gramont, taken from one of the attackers in Osaka. He says that he needs to be looked for in Paris. Winston also says that simply killing the Marquis will not lead to anything. After all, the Board is a Hydra: if you cut off one head, another one will immediately grow back. And John is still not as powerful as the legendary Hercules, who fought with this creature. Winston advises to arm yourself with the support of your clan and challenge Vincent to a duel. Then the Board, in accordance with their rules, grants John freedom.

The hero decides to take this advice and goes to Berlin, to the Russian Roma clan, from which he was expelled in the previous part. However, they are not at all happy about the appearance of the “prodigal son”. After all, after John killed the new Elder, on the orders of the Marquis, the head of the clan, Peter, was killed. A noose is thrown over the hero to hang, but the execution is canceled – Peter’s daughter Katerina likes the idea of ​​a duel. However, she demands first to deal with the perpetrator of the murder of her father – Killa Harkan.

John visits the Heaven and Hell Club, which is run by Killa. Together with them there are Cain and Pathfinder (Mr. Nobody). Killa invites the “guests” to play cards for their right to kill. But he cheats, and the game escalates into a massive gunfight, during which John kills the villain. He brings Killa’s tooth to Katerina as confirmation of the completed task and undergoes a rite of passage. John now has clan support and can initiate a duel.

Winston comes to the Louvre, where Vincent admires the paintings of great French artists, to challenge him. The Marquis initially resists, but the former owner of the Continental recalls that “there are rules, and without them we are animals.” Winston and Vincent agree on terms. In accordance with them, if John wins, the Board stops persecuting him, removes the Excommunicado status from him and Winston. In the event of a defeat, the second who challenged, that is, Winston himself, must be executed (the latter, in response to this, throws: “Such is life”). For Vincent, this duel also makes sense: if successful, he will gain fame as the winner of the hitherto invulnerable John Wick.

The hero stays in Paris and meets with the marquis. In the presence of the Herald, they agree on the details of the duel: the battle will take place at dawn in the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, the weapons will be pistols, failure to appear entails execution. In the meantime, Vincent tells Wick that he won’t be able to find his freedom and will forever remain what he is – a murderer. The Marquis, once again blackmailing Cain with his daughter’s life, appoints him as John’s rival instead of himself.

hero behind an overturned carFrame from the film.

The hero goes to the church, where he puts a candle. He tells Cain, who is present here, that he does not believe in meeting his wife after death, but admits that he is mistaken. Cain says that they are both cursed and he is ready to sacrifice the life of an old friend for the sake of his daughter.

The Herald expresses to Vincent the fear that the victory of John Wick will shake the foundations of the Rule of Clans and make a saint out of him. The Marquis, however, is confident that luck is on his side.

The hero meets the Bowery. He gives John a suit and weapons and takes him along with Winston on a boat, closer to the duel site. Along the way, the company talks about the best inscriptions on tombstones. Winston says that for Charon this was the inscription “Friend”, because he really was a friend. Bowery wants “The King” written on his tombstone. And John would have preferred the inscription “Loving Husband” for himself.

Vincent raises the price of killing Wick to end him before the duel, or to prevent him from showing up on time, which is equivalent. The hunt for the hero continues with renewed vigor. Her move is commented on by a female DJ on Wuxia Radio (in Chinese it sounds like “Fighting Heroes” – the name of a collection of stories about people with supernatural fighting abilities). The hunters are confronted by the Pathfinder, who thereby seeks to raise the price of Wick’s kills to $40 million. As a result, Mr. Nobody also attacks the hero. However, John defeats all pursuers, including the Pathfinder, though, leaving him alive. As a result, he, along with his dog, helps Wick get to the basilica through the stairs, teeming with enemies. Cain also acts as an ally at this stage – he wants a fair fight.

The duelists make it to dawn. The beginning of the confrontation is heralded by the words of the Herald in Latin: “May the Lord have mercy on you. We have the same beginning and end. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (quote from the Catholic prayer for the dead). John and Cain disperse, shoot at each other on command, close the distance and shoot again. Before the last shooting, the duelists quote the words from the Japanese samurai code of honor: “Those who seek death survive. Those who cling to life die.” Shots are fired and John falls down, wounded. Vincent is going to finish him off. But the hero cheated – he did not shoot at Cain, but now he uses the remaining cartridge to kill the Marquis.

John Wick is reinstated, Winston is returned to the position of manager, Cain’s daughter is left alone. The messenger with the servants goes home.

Ian McShaneIan McShane as Winston and Lance Reddick as Sharon. Frame from the film.

Wounded, John descends the stairs, sits down on the steps, remembers his wife and, it seems. dies.

In the final scene, Bowery and Winston stand near the tombstones of John and his wife. On the plate of the hero, as he wanted, it is written: “A loving husband.” Bowery, holding John’s dog on a leash, asks where his friend is now – in Hell or Heaven. Winston replies: “Who knows?” Bowery laughs slyly. Winston puts his hand on the stove and says in Russian: “Goodbye, my son.”

Will there be a John Wick Chapter 5?

The authors began work on the film “John Wick Chapter 5”. It seems that it should not become a kind of spin-off, since there will already be many of them (at least two more projects in the killer universe are being prepared). The creators hint that Keanu Reeves will be involved in it. The film will release on June 7, 2024. This was reported by representatives of the studio Lionsgate.

John Wick: Chapter 4 Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the fourth John Wick movie seems to be simple. We saw the hero’s death, his tombstone, grieving friends, and even his dog, now owned by the Bowery. Everything speaks in favor of the fact that John Wick is dead and his story is complete.

That’s just already reliably known that the authors are working on the fifth part of the franchise. Our explanation of the ending does not fit with this.

Bill SkarsgårdBill Skarsgard played the role of Marcus. Frame from the film.

There may be several clues. First, the main character will be someone else who will be inspired by the example of the legendary killer. Then John Wick himself will appear as a flashback character or even some imaginary friend. Perhaps not a very good decision, but it all depends on the talent of the writers and the director.

The second explanation: the fifth part of the franchise will not be a continuation of John Wick 4, but will become a prequel. Fortunately, there are a lot of dark spots in the hero’s biography, and the background will help shed light on them. In this case, the creators of the picture will face many difficulties, the biggest of which is to rejuvenate the actor, whose age is inexorably approaching sixty years. However, there are many solutions to this problem, from makeup to the use of artificial intelligence technologies in editing.

The third option: “John Wick 4” will receive a direct continuation, since the hero’s death is staged. No wonder the Bowery laughed slyly about his whereabouts. As for the dog, we know that Jon has already left him in Charon’s care. Why not give it to another reliable person for a while?

Winston’s parting in this case is a formality made for secret observers. Or he seriously believes that he will no longer see his named son, although he is alive. Let’s also remember the opening scene of the first part – there was a similar snag with John being wounded. And what is the result? – he got up and went. For a semi-fantastic universe, this is not at all a forbidden technique.

Why was staging necessary? The fact is that John Wick is almost the most valuable and most dangerous shot in the world of killers. It is unlikely that everyone will just leave him alone. Sooner or later, someone will need it. So it’s better to pretend that John Wick is dead if you really want to hide it from everyone.

Hiroyuki SanadaHiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu, Rina Sawayama as Akira. Frame from the film.

Scene after credits

Cain goes to his daughter with flowers. Akira appears. She has a knife in her hands and she is going to take revenge. The act of revenge itself is not shown to us. So here, too, more than one interpretation is possible. Maybe Cain let his guard down (even though he knew Akira would come for him) and paid the price. Or maybe he is still on the alert and prepared in advance for the attack. There is a possibility of a fight, the end of which is also variable. In addition, the relationship of the characters can add intrigue to the fifth part of the franchise, if it is a continuation.

The meaning of the film John Wick: Chapter 4

The first John Wick was a pure old-school action movie. It had a solid storyline, but it served as the foundation for the furious action. The second and third parts, showing fights and gunfights, did not forget to expand the universe of killers and demonstrate curious details. The creators of John Wick 4 did the same. However, they also provided the film with symbols, references and elements of classical philosophy – both Western and Eastern.

For example, at the beginning, Bowery quotes a verse from the Divine Comedy, in which the hero encounters the spirit of the poet Virgil. He acts as a guide to Hell (“Abandon hope, ye who enter here”), Purgatory and Paradise. And as the gatekeeper of the first circle of Hell, the carrier of the souls of the dead across the Acheron River, the old man Charon, acts. Now we remember that that was the name of the concierge Winston. On the steps leading to his grave is just a quote from Virgil’s Aeneid about Acheron, who is ready to stir up the hero in order to “bend the heavenly gods.” And on the tombstone is an inscription attributed to Seneca: “We live to die.” One of the paintings in the Louvre scene where Winston and Vincent are talking is Dante and Virgil (Dante’s Boat) by Eugene Delacroix. We also remember how the Bowery carried John and Winston on his “boat”. And one of the scenes takes place in the Heaven and Hell club, which is also no accident.

Natalia TenaNatalia Tena played the role of Katya. Frame from the film.

At the Louvre, Winston passes military-themed paintings such as Antoine-Jean Gros’ Napoleon on the Battlefield of Preussisch-Eylau and Théodore Géricho’s Wounded Cuirassier Leaving the Battlefield. There is also the “Raft of the Medusa” by the same Jericho, a work that refers to the catastrophe, followed by famine, murder and cannibalism. Vincent in the gallery admires the painting “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix in the center of which is the woman Liberty walking over corpses. And behind the Marquis’s back is Eugene Delacroix’s “The Death of Sardanapalus”, which illustrates an episode from the story of the Assyrian king, who brought the people to revolt.

There are many similar references clinging to each other in John Wick 4 – in the description of the plot, we touched on some of them (including Japanese and Chinese culture). Do they have a hidden meaning? Of course: following the scattered clues and making detailed analyzes of them, you can get acquainted with many areas of art and philosophy (not to mention modern mass culture – which is worth only the very interaction of the actors who once played in The Matrix). Objects of art in general are a special fetish in the picture, both for the characters and for the authors. But do they lead to some main idea, do they reveal the whole essence of the film? Yes and no.

On the one hand, each quote can lead to reflection. But, on the other hand, all this creates a kind of confusion, which dissolves in the flow of action and becomes not too noticeable. And by missing any symbol or reference, the viewer has little to lose.

In general, we can say that the entire symbolism of the film is built around reflections on life and death and the theme of freedom. And in this “John Wick Chapter 4” surpasses its predecessors. In the previous parts, the hero was engaged in revenge and simply survived, fleeing from enemies. Here he longs for something more, his actions carry an almost sacred meaning.

Once the hero fettered himself by marriage, but found love, and in it – that very, real freedom. Having lost love, John returned to the former “circles of hell”, where there is only death around, and he himself is death. But in the endless bloody battles, he again finds real friends, among them even the forced traitor-“fratricide” Cain (a reference to the biblical characters Cain and Abel). Friends help John come to the desired freedom. But did the hero get it in the end? “Who knows?..”.

main characterFrame from the film.

Similar films

  • Revolver (UK, France, 2005): a philosophical action from Guy Ritchie, which has become a cult;
  • The Raid: Redemption (Serbuan maut) (Indonesia, 2011): the famous action movie about a special forces group trying to capture a high-rise building with bandits;
  • Taken (Great Britain, USA, France, 2007): the father does everything to save his daughter;
  • Blind Fury (USA, 1989): A blinded Vietnam War veteran enters the fray and holds the enemy down.

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