If there’s one thing you can count on in a John Wick movie, it’s Keanu Reeves’ eponymous protagonist leaving behind a high body count. The assassin is skilled at eliminating his opponents in various ways, even with mundane items like a book or a pencil. However, had the making of the first John Wick movie gone differently, there wouldn’t have been nearly as many bodies hitting the floor.
Director Chad Stahelski, who co-helmed 2014’s John Wick with David Leitch, recently recalled how different the film’s kill count was when he read the script for the first time compared to what ultimately unfolded on the big screen. In the filmmaker’s words:
It was much more contained. I think only three people died in the original script, two were in a car crash. It was very, very minimal, and it was slightly different. I read it, and I'd always had this idea about Greek mythology and how to tell more a fablestic kind of story, make a surreal action movie so it wasn't so grounded and gray, just something different.
A subdued and grounded movie where only three people are killed is definitely a far cry from the stylized and over-the-top action John Wick provided in its final form. Would that earlier version have been as successful as the movie that played in theaters? That’s hard to say, but considering how the original John Wick spawned a franchise, going in this more brutal direction was probably a good decision.
For those wondering, John Wick ended boasting approximately 91 deaths (yes, sadly, that includes the puppy), with Keanu Reeves’ character obviously being responsible for most of the casualties. Around 119 met their demises in John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum went even further with 167 deaths. So far John’s eliminated the most people in Chapter 2, and with the way his life is going, there won’t by any shortage of adversaries he’s forced to drop anytime soon.
During his interview with Comicbook.com, Chad Stahelski also mentioned how he and his team didn’t deliberately set out to increase the kill count with each passing John Wick movie, but with the way these action sequences are choreographed and how many stunt performers are involved, it’s just worked out that way. Stahelski continued:
I think, just by nature, because Keanu's gotten so much better with the choreography and the martial arts and the motion and we change weapons so much and we get bigger set pieces, that, just by its very nature, because the scene grows, the body count grows. But we don't start off going, 'Okay, what was in number three? How do we beat it for number four?' We just choreograph and it happens.
John Wick: Chapter 4 was announced to be in development shortly after John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum came out, but earlier this month, Lionsgate revealed that John Wick: Chapter 5 is in the works too. The plan is to shoot both movies back-to-back, although right now, Chad Stahelski is focused on making Chapter 4 the best it can be before turning his attention to Chapter 5.
Along with the main John Wick saga continuing, the franchise is also expanding with the Ballerina spinoff and Starz’s The Continental series. We here at CinemaBlend will keep you apprised of how all these projects are coming along, but for now, fans can look forward to John Wick: Chapter 4 arriving on May 27, 2022.