‘John Wick 4’ Surprise Screening Reactions: “Greatest Action Sequences I’ve Ever Seen”
The code name on the invite: “Baba Yaga.”
Which as John Wick fans know, is the nickname of Keanu Reeves’ weary and unstoppable gun-fu assassin in Lionsgate’s hugely popular action franchise. The studio held a not-so-secret screening of the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4 at South by Southwest Film & TV Festival in Austin on Monday afternoon (like all the best SXSW secrets, the news leaked days in advance).
The Chad Stahelski-directed movie is by far the longest Wick adventure yet, running just shy of three hours — nearly twice as long as the 2014 first film and about 40 minutes longer than Chapter 3. Each hour has one epic lengthy action sequence featuring the franchise’s characteristic mix of mayhem, violence, balletic physicality and morbid humor. Plus, the film includes a post-credits scene.
Reeves attended the event while appropriately dressed in a black suit. Fans were definitely invested in the action, with the crowd hooting and cheering throughout. At one point, after he falls out of a window, a woman in the audience yelled, “Get up, Keanu!” which led to more cheers.
During a Q&A that followed the screening, Reeves revealed that he has John’s watch and wedding ring as a souvenir. Another fan asked Reeves if he actually ages, leading the star to respond, “Yeah, man, I age. It’s happening, man.”
Stahelski was asked what he wants the franchise’s legacy to be, and he simply said, “This,” referring to the fan experience of watching it. As for his influences for the new sequel, the director cited Sergio Leone samurai movies and Walter Hill’s The Warriors.
The screening led to enthusiastic social media reactions, including one fan who tweeted in part, “Holy hell. Peppers you with excellent set pieces early and then in the last hour hammers you on the head with some of the greatest action sequences I’ve ever seen.” Another attendee praised the film as an “absolute banger” and gushed, “The third act and finale had the whole crowd cheering like no other.”
A third guest posted about the “colorful characters, eye-popping production design, and incredible fight choreography.” The tweet added, “Chad Stahelski is one of the best directors working today.”
This is the first stateside premiere for the franchise installment. In the lead-up to SXSW, Reeves and the John Wick team have been globe-trotting, debuting the film across Europe in Berlin, Paris, and London — all filming locations.
The setup is pretty straightforward: Wick is fighting for his freedom “and must face a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into new foes.”
In addition to Reeves, the film also stars Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Clancy Brown, Natalia Tena, Marko Zaror and Ian McShane.
Like many titles, the project was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, having been originally planned for release in May 2021. Lionsgate also initially planned to shoot Chapter 4 along with a fifth installment back to back, but scrapped that plan. Reeves has said the studio is now taking a wait-and-see approach.
John Wick: Chapter 4 will be released on March 24.