Tom Jolliffe looks ahead to John Wick: Chapter 4 and some things that would be great to see in the next one (John Wick 3 spoilers follow)…
With John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum giving Avengers: Endgame a good old fashioned German (actually Belgian) Shepherd nut savaging at the box office on its opening weekend and gaining another set of great reviews to add to a franchise that has had great reviews throughout, it will come as little surprise that a fourth movie is already slated for release in 2021. Keanu Reeves has never had such perfect synergy with a character. The film has slowly enraptured audiences and gained an ever increasing cult following that has seen Mr. Wick become pop culturally significant.
As I mentioned in another piece, there are many reasons why John Wick is one of the two best action franchises (along with the Mission: Impossible films). What we’ve seen beautifully realised, with every marginal increase in budget, is an expansion on a pretty brilliant world. Some call it the Wickiverse (wickverse? World of Wickcraft??). We see Wick travel to Morocco, breaking away from the New York City we’d become accustomed to for large swathes. He’s already seen his travels take him to Italy as well in the second film. The beauty of Wick, as with Bond, Hunt etc, is that his business, his targets may take him on a world wide trip. I’d love to see Wick hit Blighty. Wick in London. Maybe Wick in the Highlands or the Snowdonia mountains. Hell, if Chad Stahelski really does get a Highlander reboot off the ground (that’s a hell yes please from me), then he could scout whilst he shoots a segment in the Highlands. The McContinental?
Where we’re at story wise with Wick 4 too, is that John Wick has been betrayed and left for dead. He’s still marked for death and inevitably, from every mention of the high table, we’re heading for a Wick headed rebellion against the whole system. Inevitably this will mean reams of assassins coming from every corner of the world. I’m honestly loving the world built around Wick. It’s utterly ludicrous but so sincerely laid out, and there’s a definite tongue in cheek nod to some of the silliness within the film (particularly in Parabellum which whilst dialling up the myth, dials up the humour also). Still, they don’t venture the humour into mockery or pastiche.
There are so many stand-out set pieces in Parabellum too that we now have a certain expectation level. The franchise has seen no shortage of hand-to-hand fights, gun fu, great (and fantastical) settings, car chases, motorbike chases, horse sequences, dog sequences. Maybe Wick can start tossing Sphynx cats around at his opponents like clawed grenades. Upping the ante represents a great challenge but with a team headed by ex-stunt man Stahelski, veteran of the genre Reeves and a writing team (headed by Derek Kolstad) who all clearly have a well versed affection for the genre, we’re bound to see no shortage of respectful nods (they’ve already nodded Enter the Dragon brilliantly in the last two films).
Part of what makes Wick stand the test of time so well too, is the cast. Reeves is perfect in the role but his supporting acts have been great since day one. Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne battle for the title of king scenery chewer. Mind you with scenery this gorgeous (cheers Dan Laustsen and co) I don’t blame any unrestrained thesp from gorging on it. It’d be great to see more fantastic character actors pop up in this world. It’s such a bizarre and distinct world too, it’s prime for digging out some greats like Rutger Hauer (he’d make a great High-Table member). Actors capable of quirky brilliance. That would seem the order of the day, as we indeed saw from Anjelica Huston who reminded us that we just don’t see enough of her these days. Further, Stahelski gets everyone to hit their A game. No one comes here for the paycheck, they see a bar set by Reeves (somewhere at 110%) and have to match that. A return for Halle Berry would also be welcomed.
Then you’ve got the line of action casting. Whether it was Daniel Bernhardt, Common, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman, or the fantastic Mark Dacascos, we’ve had no shortage of worthy foe for Wick. There’s the possibility of bringing a few of these back too. Common’s fate is open, as are those of Ruhian and Rahman, and indeed the book may not have been entirely closed on Zero either (Dacascos). Such was the impact Dacascos had as headline villain, fans would surely relish seeing his return (perhaps onside of Wick?).
Then we open up to a world of great possibilities. Big personalities would not seem out of place in Wick world. Someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is one final Terminator flop away from cinematic career termination, would be great in this universe as one of an array of characters. Dolph Lundgren too, on a nice resurgence with Creed 2 and Aquaman and having had previous beef with Keanu Reeves in the maligned (but slowly re-appraised for oddly brilliant camp) Johnny Mnemonic. He’d be fantastic in Wick. In fact writer Derek Kolstad’s pre-Wick breakout was a straight to video action film called The Package featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin as Tommy Wick. It dealt with markers and deadly assassins too with Dolph Lundgren appearing as a Baba Yaga-esque hitman known as ‘The German (and he was ace…but no one saw the film sadly…)’
Wick’s world is one of the few logical worlds too, where the return of Steven Seagal might actually work. Wick’s array of Judo throws could be well matched by those of Seagal (along side his Aikido speciality). As mentioned earlier too, with limitless potential for Wick to traverse the globe in pursuit of the high-table, should he pass by England then Scott Adkins and Gary Daniels are waiting with their fists raised. This franchise is a great potential showcase for the overlooked also-ran. Yeah you could put Statham there, but he’s probably out of budget now and really, Wick, with its loving ode to action and acknowledgement of the B movie boys, should have ample opportunity in casting more video action stars. I think it’s good for those in slump, those on a wind down, or those who deserve a shot they never had.
You could even take things further and get Wick to travel to Hong Kong, which would fit very comfortably into the visual aesthetics laid out already. There Reeves could face off against any number of exciting opponents. For one, it’s probably about time Donnie Yen was given a decent stage to perform in his Western cameos. You could maybe take proceedings to another part of Asia. There are a lot of possibilities and a lot of potential opponents in the form of action icons like Tony Jaa or Iko Uwais. Could John Wick find himself drawn into some kind of underground Kumite? Someone call Bolo Yeung immediately.
One thing that will certainly be interesting in the next instalment is the relationship between Wick and Winston. A mutual respect which progressively turned to loyalty and friendship, flipped on its head and now we have a very interesting dynamic for the next film and a payoff for that.
Given the Matrix nods throughout the Wick franchise too, aside from bringing in the always magnetic Monica Bellucci somewhere into proceedings, or Carrie-Anne Moss, if we’re talking set piece references, it’d be great to see Wick trying to do a riff on the Burly brawl. Granted for logic sake you couldn’t have 100 clones of Hugo Weaving rushing him, but whilst Wick has plenty of experience fighting multiple foes, just how many could you throw in and retain believability in Wick fending his way out? I’d love to see them push that to the limit. Sorry Keanu…
Another element that Parabellum opened was a bit more of the background of Wick, having been orphaned in Belarus. Of course you could dig further, but there’s always a danger of delving too much into an enigmatic characters backstory. Parabellum did that just enough, but there still remains an opportunity to see Wick find his way to Eastern Europe at some point.
One thing for sure, whilst every franchise has a shelf-life, I think there’s plenty of run-time left in John Wick, and one more would be the minimum. Five’s a nice round number…or maybe six. Yeah, end on an even number…but seven…seven’s lucky…
What would you like to see in John Wick: Chapter 4? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @FlickeringMyth
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has three features due out on DVD/VOD in 2019 and a number of shorts hitting festivals. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.