Take on hordes of enemies armed to the teeth. Travel far and wide, from America to Italy to Morocco, and fight, shoot, surprise and kill. He even falls wounded and swooped from the penthouse of the Continental in New York, from a dizzying height that for anyone would have meant certain death. For everyone but not for him, the relentless and stainless John Wick, the Baba Yaga of the assassins, the Black Man of the criminal underworld of the world created by Derek Kolstad and brought to the big screen by Chad Stahelski. The adjective ineluctable suits him more than the Thanos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is saying something.
A saga, that of John Wick, which so far has recorded more than satisfactory revenues and has attracted tens of millions of fans around the world. Why does he low on inspirations of oriental cinema, of a technical-formal care that gives hand-to-hand chases or shootings does not spare massive doses of enthusiasm and adrenaline, placing action, movement and precision at the center of the story. And then there's him, Keanu Reeves.
An interpreter who has always put himself on the line, a great professional dedicated to his work and passions, connoisseur of martial arts and military approach tactics with weapons or CQC.
All elements that he exploits in his most iconic performance so far along with that of Neo in Matrix and that we will fortunately see in the cinema for a long time, given the recent officialization of John Wick 5.
The particularity of this announcement, however, can be found in the fact that until a few months ago the film in question was only a hypothesis and not a certainty.
What has changed then in this short period of time? What convinced the production to plan a fifth installment of the franchise before the release of John Wick 4?
The answer is surprisingly simple: the pandemic.
Reflections in quarantine
The truth, as Fabrizio De André also sang, is that "flowers are born from manure", and the announcement of John Wick 5 is perhaps one of the few positive things born from this Coronavirus Pandemic. However, an explanation is needed.
In full lockdown, last May, screenwriter Derek Kolstad was being interviewed by Comicbook.com microphones about the success and future of the film saga in question.
John Wick 4 had already been postponed for a full year, as of June 30, 2022, as well as the other flagship project by Keanu Reeves, Lana Wachowski's Matrix 4.
A period of decidedly significant production uncertainties still loomed ahead of them, yet the hope of filming the fourth chapter of John Wick as soon as possible, as well as the desire to continue to develop the setting and characters in the cinema or on television.
This became evident in an answer given by Kolstad about the cinematographic continuity of the project, as well as the seed of a hypothetical conclusion divided in two.
The director just stated: "I don't know if more chapters will arrive in the future, but the current plan is to make 4 or at most 5. The fourth film could be a single, long project or take a breath, breathe and then give way to a fifth film. Let's say … it depends on how it fits better, but I'm sure that for Keanu it would be a source of happiness, being very attached to the character and having given him great character.".
Two months ago, with John Wick 4 still being written and reworked, the screenwriter was already bringing up the far from silent hypothesis of planning a long final chapter of the franchise and then dividing it into two films, a method that gives Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been used and abused by blockbuster cinema.
However, Kolstad's words reveal an internal struggle between a long, enthralling and spectacular conclusion condensed into a maximum of three hours of film – the fourth, precisely – or something more elaborate in different parts not necessarily similar, looking for example at Avengers: Infinity War is Avengers: Endgame.
Let's get our hands on a bit talking about the conclusion, referring to the writer's speech, to that "at most 5" he expressly declared and – let's face it – understandable, at least in terms of conceptual and qualitative farsightedness.
With the pandemic underway, the forced stop of all productions and the impossibility of moving freely, Kolstad took a long time to develop this script of his, finding the right keystone to elasticise the new story, give it that breath it wished for.
The idea that this is the final arc of the main saga also comes from the fact that Chad Stahelski has confirmed the intention of turn John Wick 4 and 5 one after the other, not exactly back-to-back – therefore together – but with an intentional and unprecedented continuity for the franchise, which usually (we look at Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Avengers) it is adopted for the conclusion cycle of a tale.
And who knows if this creative choice will be able to put the indestructible John Wick out of action. One thing is funny though: the pandemic has definitely reinforced it.