John Wick: Chapter 4 Director Had A Spot-On Response When He Realized The First Cut Was Nearly 4 Hours

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

At 169 minutes, i.e. two hours and 49 minutes, John Wick: Chapter 4 is the longest entry in this series of action movies so far, outpacing Chapter 3 - Parabellum by 38 minutes. And yet, there is a version of Chapter 4 that ended up being nearly four hours long. Obviously that’s a long runtime to ask audiences to sit through, and director Chad Stahelski opened up about why this 2023 new movie release wasn’t kept at such a length.

There are some movies that are long, yet don’t feel that way as you’re watching the events unfold. That wasn’t the case with John Wick: Chapter 4, because as Chad Stahelski informed Indiewire, while there wasn’t any mandate on how long the move needed to be, it eventually became abundantly clear that clocking in at almost four hours just wasn’t going to work. As the filmmaker put it:

To be really honest with you, zero was planned out. Our first cut was three hours and 45 minutes, and it felt like three hours and 45 minutes. We were like, ‘Oh, we’re so screwed.’

Chad Stahelski and editor Nathan Orloff initially arrived at three hours and 45 minutes because while Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is obviously the big draw, they also wanted to do justice to Chapter 4’s supporting cast of characters and the storylines not directly revolving around the title assassin. But editing is a key step in the moviemaking process, and Stahelki and Orloff soon realized this first cut of the latest John Wick installment had “too much space,” so it became necessary to remove parts that were “unnecessary.” For Orloff, it was important that there were no “repeated ideas”

Of course, cutting down a movie’s runtime and ensuring it still flows well is easier said than done. In the case of John Wick: Chapter 4, there was no way for Chad Stahelski and Nathan Orloff to trim any of the movie’s 14 action sequences without it affecting the entire product, and Stahelski also observed that even trimming a scene too short resulted in the movie feeling longer because it wasn’t the “correct rhythm.” In the end, they felt that coming in at a little under three hours felt more appropriate, and judging by the positive reviews for Chapter 4, it doesn’t sound like the movie suffers from any pacing issues that would have been on full display had it stayed at under four hours.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum ended with a near-dead John being rescued by The Bowery King, and the two men were equally “pissed off” at what The High Table had done to them. This next chapter will see a recovered John waging war against the council of high-ranking crime lords, and along with Laurence Fishburne reprising The Bowery King, Chapter 4’s cast has Ian McShane reprising Winston and the late Lance Reddick reprising Charon, along with newcomers like Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada, Bill Skarsgård, Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama and Scott Adkins coming aboard. As of this writing, Chapter 4 has a 95% Tomatometer, making it the highest-ranking John Wick movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

John Wick: Chapter 4 will kick off its preview screenings tonight, and the franchise will also deliver the prequel event series The Continental to Peacock sometime later this year, as well as the film spinoff Ballerina at a yet-to-be-revealed time. Stream the first three John Wick movies with a Peacock subscription.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.