For those who might be a little late to the party, the modern-day action movie legend that is the “John Wick” series is set to continue with not one, but two more chapters, which will be filmed back-to-back.
Obviously, when it comes to such news, “party” is the operative word, as the saga that is the “John Wick” franchise is among the greatest action movie tales of all time. Wanting nothing more than to grieve the loss of his wife with the pet dog she left behind for him, John Wick returns to the hidden world of assassins that he’d retired from after his car is stolen and his dog killed.
Unfortunately for the perpetrators, the man they wronged just happens to have been the most legendary assassin in the world, the mere mention of his nickname “Baba Yaga” sending shivers down the spines of all who know what he’s capable of.
Beginning as a humble big-screen comeback for Keanu Reeves in 2014, “John Wick” would spawn two sequels while completely changing the action-movie game. With a category-5 hurricane of incredible stunts and action blending martial arts and gun-fu and a shrouded underground society of assassins gradually revealed in greater detail in each chapter, the “John Wick” series is now practically THE new standard for action movies.
This obviously establishes a lot for the next two installments of the series to live up to, but in the case of “Baba Yaga”, each chapter in the franchise has surpassed the last with an ease that is simply breathtaking.
While the anticipation for the next two “John Wick” movies is already sky-high, we at KFK felt it would be remiss of us not to offer a few suggestions on ways we believe that they can continue and build upon what made the series so great when it first began. So strap in and make sure you have a gold coin and a marker by your side right now, readers – as here is what we at KFK would LOVE to see in Chapters 4 and 5 of “John Wick”, (let us know if you agree in the comments below)!
More of John’s Assassin Backstory…
From its modest origins in 2014 to the full-blown “Mad Max: Fury Road”-levels of insanity of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, the “John Wick” series has consistently gone to great lengths to emphasize that John is a man whose reputation precedes him in the assassin world.
When he returns to The Continental after the death of his dog in the first film, he is afforded a level of respect and deference that can only be extended to a genuine legend. The introductory sequences of the two sequels only further emphasize that John is as feared as he is respected, with even a $14 million price tag on his head and every assassin in New York City after him in the beginning of “Parabellum” only making the odds “about even” in Winston’s eyes.
Bearing that in mind, it would serve the next two “John Wick” movies well to offer some details on John’s beginnings as an assassin and how he acquired such legendary status in the assassin underworld. This doesn’t mean that either chapter 4 or 5 should offer a complete origin story for John, and in fact, keeping details about his early life relatively mysterious is still the best thing for his mystique.
However, a minor flashback or two in one or both movies, or simply some general information about John’s life before the series began would offer just enough information about how the legend of Baba Yaga was born without overexposing it. A look back at one of his early hits or just a story audiences have not yet been privy to could easily accomplish this goal – though its best to leave his mythological pencil-based story untouched, especially since we’ve already seen him utilize that very weapon in “John Wick: Chapter 2”!
More One-on-One Fights? YES, PLEASE
When it comes to theatrically-released action movies being produced in the English-speaking world today, the John Wick franchise is simply without equal when it comes to martial arts action. With stunt veteran Chad Stahelski in the director’s chair throughout the franchise (his fellow stunt vet David Leitch co-piloting for the first movie) and the dedication and physicality of Keanu Reeves, the John Wick movies are a true monument to some of the best big-screen combat of the 21st century.
For as undeniably outstanding as the hand-to-hand and gun-fu action of the John Wick franchise is, its one-on-one-battles are an area where it should zero-in on in the next two movies.
That’s not a criticism of the first three by any means, as John’s battles against groups of enemies are stunning to behold from both John’s own blend of judo and gunplay and the assortment of combat disciplines his enemies bring to the table.
That’s also not to say that the franchise is even lacking in John going mano-a-mano with singular opponents, as it’s offered plenty of these too, and they’ve always been as outstanding as his battles against multiple opponents.
John’s match-ups with Adrianne Palicki’s “Ms. Perkins” in the original, Common’s “Cassian” in “Chapter 2”, and Mark Dacascos’ “Zero” in “Parabellum” are some of the biggest highlights of the franchise, and the fact that the series excels so much in this regard is why it would do well to pit John against a few more enemies who can give him a run for his money all by themselves in the fourth and fifth chapters of the series. And on that note…
John Wick’s Adversaries
For all the legend surrounding John Wick himself, something that the three movies have always been cognizant of is the need for his enemies to genuinely be challenging. Each of the three John Wick movies to date has been superb in pitting their titular anti-hero against one formidable foe after another, and they’ve consistently stepped it up with each installment.
Indeed, such a big part of why “Parabellum” was the bonanza that it was is the ensemble of Mark Dacascos, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman, Tiger Chen, and many others he had to contend with. Of course, chapters 4 and 5 have to rise to the occasion, and with the series being what it is, there’s no shortage of action stars who would be outstanding candidates to step into the mix.
The distinctly Ninjutsu-driven action “Parabellum” would make either of the next two sequels an ideal window for Tak Sakaguchi to be granted a Continental membership card, having previously anchored Japan’s answer to “John Wick” that was “Re:Born”, while Bruce Khan of “Revenger” fame would also be a force to be reckoned with for John. Furthermore, between Tiger Chen having already faced off with John and two alumni of “The Raid” movies slashing blades with him, the entire cast of “Triple Threat” could serve a virtual grab bag for the perfect next set of contenders to climb aboard in the next two chapters.
The idea of John Wick having to hold his own against the likes of Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Iko Uwais, Jeeja Yanin, Ron Smoorenburg, Dominiquie Vandenberg, or Michael Bisping would rival anything Baba Yaga has ever faced before. On the other hand, and here’s where it really gets interesting, neither Yayan nor Cecep actually died in “Parabellum”, while Cassian was still around by the end of “Chapter 2”, albeit with a blade in his aorta as John pointed out.
While it would surely require a little creativity to work around, Cassian’s return would be a great additional component of either of the next two chapters. Better still, neither Yayan nor Cecep need to jump through the same kind of hoops – just let them whip out their blades once more as it doesn’t take much to hit their slash-buttons.
The Return of Halle Berry as “Sofia”
If one were to try to list all of the attributes that made “Parabellum” not only the best of the “John Wick” series to date but also 2019’s best action flick, we’d be here all day. However, it is undeniable that despite only being in the film’s middle section, Halle Berry elevated “Parabellum” exponentially in her utterly committed portrayal of his bitter former ally, Sofia.
Berry would break three ribs in rehearsals for the movie and described the experience of it as “life-changing”, but that did nothing to dampen Sofia’s impact on “Parabellum” as a true equal of John Wick – a description that cannot be made lightly.
Berry would subsequently go on to make her directorial debut in the upcoming MMA drama “Bruised”, and her portrayal of Sofia most certainly set the bar sky high for it. Aside from the amount of butt Sofia kicked in “Parabellum” (itself similarly instigated by an act of violence towards her dog, no less), there’s also clearly some very bad blood between herself and John.
The film keeps the specifics of it a secret, but given that Sofia sends John into the desert with water she’d just gargled and spit back into the bottle before they part ways, one doesn’t have to read between the lines to see there is some serious, ahem, water under their bridge. “Parabellum” just can’t be the end of Sofia’s involvement in the series, so whether it’s in chapter 4 or 5 singularly or in both of them, a return by John Wick’s formidable ally with a hidden grudge against him is a must.
Chapter 4: Ending on A Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger endings – who doesn’t love them eh – especially when they’re done as well as that of “John Wick: Chapter 2”? In everything from “The Empire Strikes Back” to “The Dark Knight”, a truly great cliffhanger leaves you wanting to see the follow-up right then and there.
The cliffhanger of “Chapter 2” is an all-time hall of famer – John, now excommunicado from The Continental, has a head start of just one hour before the $14 million bounty on his head becomes active. This leaves him and his new canine companion no choice but to sprint out of Central Park as fast as they can while news of the contract on him spreads across the assassin world. By the time the credits started to roll, the world was collectively counting down the minutes for “Chapter 3” to arrive.
“Chapter 4” is one of the countless movies to have its release plans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, being bumped back a full year to debut in May 2022. With the news that it will now be filmed back-to-back with “Chapter 5”, this could indicate that its immediate predecessor may go the route of “Chapter 2” with its ending. If that’s the case, it’s absolutely the smartest move to make.
Walking into “Chapter 4”, audiences will now know with certainty that it is one of two upcoming “John Wick” movies, which will do plenty to build up excitement for the next installment all by itself. With that anticipation already solidly guaranteed, there’s no better way to make the excitement for John’s fifth rodeo that much more electrifying than for his fourth to end on another cliffhanger to leave audiences wanting more.
As it is, “Parabellum” even ended with its own cliffhanger, with John and the Bowery King joining forces to take down the High Table. If that’s going to end up being packaged as a two-part war for supremacy in the assassin world, as it now might very well be, a cliffhanger-ending in the fourth movie is the perfect recipe to make the anticipation for the fifth something that no other action movie franchise today can match.
The “John Wick” series may have been a shot in the dark in its modest beginnings in 2014, but it has grown into an unequivocal classic action saga. The prospect of not one but two more big screen adventures with the most feared man in the shrouded world of assassins that hides in plain sight brings with it many new possibilities of what can now be added to the legend of Baba Yaga, even if the world sadly must now wait a year longer to see it all come to fruition.
Still, with three of the most gripping and exhilarating action movies of the modern era already in the can, it’ll surely be worth the wait to see what the fourth and fifth chapters of the “John Wick” series have in store!