John Wick 4 sees Keanu Reeves' character "come to terms" with the consequences of his actions

Keanu Reeves in John Wick 4
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

"In John Wick 4, I would say, John comes to terms with how what he does affects people that he cares about," director Chad Stahelski tells Total Film in the new issue of the magazine, featuring Oppenheimer on the cover. "There's always got to be consequences for your actions. And in this, we're starting to see that John understands what the consequences are."

He pauses. "Not that it curbs him in any way."

Good. The last thing you’d want to see is Keanu Reeves’ suited-and-booted assassin holding back, especially after vowing in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum to take on underworld authority the High Table. While that episode took Wick to Morocco, this latest installment goes further afield, with filming taking place in Berlin, Paris, and – most excitingly – Osaka, Japan.

"I'm a huge fan of Chambara films – sword-fighting films, samurai films – from Harakiri to Seven Samurai," says Stahelski. "I can literally name off all 26 episodes of Zatoichi plus the TV shows! So, obviously, that's a huge influence. This one has a very Japanese theme to it. It's about a certain code, whether it's friendship or the art of living." It feels apt. "Even though everyone in the movie is a bad guy, there's a code."

It's also given John Wick: Chapter 4 a decidedly Asian flavor, with new cast members including Chinese martial arts superstar Donnie Yen, Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, and Japanese-British pop star Rina Sawayama, making her big-screen debut as a fighter named Akira. 

So does Yen – who played the legendary Ip Man on screen – get to fight with Reeves? "I would say they will have their moment," grins Stahelski.

For more on John Wick 4, pick up a copy of Total Film's 2023 Preview issue, fronted by Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. You can pre-order here, and the magazine will be available in shops and on digital newsstands from Thursday, December 15. And the print version of this new issue comes with a special 52-page supplement counting down the best films, must-see moments, and breakout stars of 2022.

Total Film's 2023 Preview and Review of the Year 2022

(Image credit: Universal/Syncopy/Total Film)

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Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood.