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John Wick: Chapter 4 Writers On The Movie's Shocking Ending - Exclusive

Contains spoilers for "John Wick: Chapter 4"

Whereas "John Wick: Chapter 2" and "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum" both end on cliffhangers, "John Wick: Chapter 4" is a significantly different story. The former two films close with John either on the run or badly injured, but still in the fight against the High Table. This entry — at least on the surface — has a much more decisive and final resolution to its narrative.

As "John Wick: Chapter 4" ends, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) arrives at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris for his one-on-one duel with Caine (Donnie Yen) to win his release from the High Table. Caine is standing in for the Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), who has chosen John's old friend as his proxy. John and Caine badly wound each other, but John is more grievously injured. The Marquis replaces Caine to deliver the killing shot, but since John didn't fire his pistol on the last round, he instead gets to execute the Marquis.

Free at last of all his obligations, John stumbles down the steps of the church, sits down, and — briefly looking back on his life — keels over and appears to die. There is a cut to a graveyard, where Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) stand over John's grave, next to his wife's.

This seems to put an end to John's story, as he finally finds peace at the cost of his own life. But ... is that really the end? Sure, we saw John seemingly expire, but in the world of John Wick — much like the world of comic books — anything is possible. Co-writer Shay Hatten tells us in Looper's exclusive interview, "That's what we want. We want people asking questions."

The ending of John Wick 4 may not be as clear-cut as it seems

At first glance, the ending of "John Wick: Chapter 4" is satisfying both emotionally and narratively. That doesn't mean it's not shocking to watch John finally succumb to his wounds. Yet at the same time, we don't officially see him declared dead, nor do we see a body in a coffin, which means that the ending of this film — in classic "John Wick" fashion — is as enigmatic as the others.

"It is absolutely open to interpretation," says co-writer Michael Finch. "... All I can tell you is that we see John Wick in pretty bad shape and then we see a burial plot. Bear in mind that one of the themes of this was the distinction between John and John Wick. The Marquis' point is that there is no such thing as John; there's only John Wick, and John's position may be that for him to be free, John Wick has to die. What that means, I will leave to interpretation, but there was much conversation over that ending."

In fact, director Chad Stahelski told The Hollywood Reporter that Lionsgate's response to the climax was "Are you f***ing insane?" although he revealed that an even more ambiguous ending didn't go over well with a test screening audience. Stahelski seems to think that the conclusion as it stands is definitive for now: "That's how we sold it to the studio," he told THR, "because, at some point, this has gotta end, man."

Perhaps it does, but with "Chapter 4" opening to a franchise-best $73.8 million at the domestic box office, Lionsgate may not be ready to dismiss talk of a "John Wick: Chapter 5" just yet. 

"John Wick: Chapter 4" is in theaters now.