In every movie franchise, at some point, the hero has to either call it quits or die. It happened with Christian Bale’s Batman, who seemingly died at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, only to be revealed as living incognito in Europe with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Tony Stark sacrificed himself to save the MCU in Avengers: Endgame. It even happened to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, who seemed to have perished at the end of No Time to Die. If 007 can meet his maker, then no action hero is safe.
Is it John Wick’s turn? One can argue the action hero is just hitting his stride. The latest movie featuring the character, John Wick: Chapter 4, is set to be the most successful JW movie to date, and the early critical reception has been rapturous. A spinoff, Ballerina, is in the works, and star Keanu Reeves has talked about a fifth movie. Yet the action in the film is intense, and even John Wick has his limits. Does John Wick die at the end of John Wick: Chapter 4?
The final act of John: Wick Chapter 4 is one long battle in different parts of Paris as John has to go through bounty hunters hired by the Marquis to kill John before he can reach Sacré-Cœur when the sun comes up. This results in a three-part fight that takes place in different parts of Paris: on the streets and in the buildings of Montmartre, in nighttime traffic in front of the Arc de Triomphe, and up the 222 steps on the famous Montmartre stairs.
The calls go out to the bounty hunters via a secret radio station on top of the Eiffel Tower, and the fighting begins. Wick is ambushed on the streets of Montmartre, with various assassins shooting at him from cafes, cars, and other surrounding buildings. The fight spills into an abandoned apartment building, where John has to battle Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson), Chidi (Mark Zaror), and dozens of hired guns.
John escapes from the building, only to engage in more fighting at the Arc de Triomphe, where his car is shot at and crashes with other cars being driven by even more bounty hunters. Even though it’s rush hour traffic, John fights numerous would-be assassins, including a revived Chidi, in the middle of the circular street. John is hit by several cars but survives; the same cannot be said for many of the bounty hunters, who are killed by guns, knives, Mr. Nobody’s dog, and several speeding cars.
Once John gets away, he still has to ascend the 222 Montmartre steps (a famous Parisian landmark) to get to his destination, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Of course, there are more bounty hunters in the way. After nearly reaching the top, John is pushed down the stairs by a still-living Chidi. At the bottom of the steps, John is aided by Caine, who wants a fair fight and is eager to duel John by himself. The two assassins take out the remaining bounty hunters.
Shockingly, yes, John appears to die at the end of John Wick: Chapter 4. Here’s how it happens: both Caine and John arrive at the Basilica as the sun begins to rise. The Marquis is there with the Harbinger (Clancy Brown), where the duel ritual begins. Both men are given antique guns and three bullets. They are instructed to walk 20 paces apart from each other, aim their guns, and then fire. After this is done, it’s revealed no one has been shot. They then walk 5 paces toward each other, reload their guns, and fire. Again, no one is killed. They then walk five more paces toward each other, now standing very close to each other, and reload their guns.
This time, only Caine fires his gun. John doesn’t, and is hit in the chest. Caine walks over to the Marquis and asks if his obligation to him and the High Table is finished. The Marquis says yes, walks away, and grabs a gun. He aims it at John, thinking it’s safe to finish off the dangerous assassin because it appears he suffered a mortal injury. The Marquis, however, forgot that John never fired that final bullet, and only realizes it too late as John points the gun at him and shoots him in the head.
John stumbles away, sits on the steps of the Basilica, and watches the sunrise as he bleeds out. The film then flashes forward to a future date, when the Bowery King and Winston King visit a graveyard. The camera pans to two graves: one for Helen Wick, and the other for John Wick, who apparently died from his injuries as a result of dueling with Caine.
Is John dead for real? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but they never actually show him dying. And any comic or pop culture fan knows that no one is truly dead unless you see the body. The audience doesn’t see the body in John Wick: Chapter 4, just a fade to the back and a grave with John’s name on it. That can be easily faked, and I can see a scenario where John used the opportunity to fake his own death so he can be left alone for good. No High Table, no Continental, no more Baba Yaga … until John Wick: Chapter 5, that is.
Be sure to read DT’s review of John Wick: Chapter 4. For John Wick fans, read John Wick: Chapter 4’s ending explained, John Wick: Chapter 4’s best scene, the best kills in John Wick: Chapter 4, ranked, and 5 reasons why John Wick is the best action movie ever.