Warning: Contains SPOILERS for John Wick: Chapter 4.
The ending of John Wick: Chapter 4 depicts the death of Keanu Reeves’ vengeance-seeking assassin, but it is possible that the demise of the Baba Yaga is more symbolic than literal. John Wick: Chapter 4‘s ending concludes with a deadly duel between John and the swordsman Caine, played by Donnie Yen, with both collaborating to kill Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis Vincent de Gramont in order to earn their freedom from the High Table. John appears to succumb to his wounds following the duel’s conclusion, exiting in peace as he sees visions of his wife Helen, and a new dawn rises over Paris.
Although John’s death in John Wick 4 may come as a surprise, there is a certain inevitability that the film telegraphs fairly early on. As recounted by director Chad Stahelski to Collider, John’s journey over the course of John Wick: Chapter 4 involves him coming to the realization that he has “burdened” his friends and allies. Following the raid on the Osaka Continental, John resolves to put an end to that cycle, which he does by sacrificing himself for Caine. Whether this sacrifice is literal or spiritual, however, is open to interpretation.
John Wick: Chapter 4 May Have Seen John Kill The Baba Yaga
Despite taking place onscreen and being followed by Winston and the Bowery King visiting his grave, John Wick’s death in John Wick: Chapter 4 is not necessarily a sure thing. While the Baba Yaga seemingly dies at peace as a free man and is subsequently buried as “loving husband” John Wick, this may also serve to illustrate how John has shed his infamous underworld persona, and is now living without fear of High Table repercussions. By accepting his death, John essentially destroys his old life as the Boogeyman, figuratively killing the Baba Yaga while John himself survives.
Such a scenario would tie back into Viggo Tarasov’s monologue from John Wick, which described the assassin not as a Boogeyman, but as “the one you sent to kill the […] Boogeyman.” The case for John’s survival at the end of John Wick: Chapter 4 is further strengthened by his dog perking up while Winston and the Bowery King pay their respects. Speaking to THR, Stahelski also discussed an alternate ending that was shot with John’s survival being more explicit, and while the film ultimately moves in another direction, it still doesn’t feel like John’s fate is certain.
Alive Or Dead, John Wick: Chapter 4 Shows The Baba Yaga Is No More
Although very much a deadly assassin, each John Wick movie has illustrated the character’s reluctance, and subsequent defiance, regarding his return as the Baba Yaga. John gets roped back into the underworld through a mix of personal tragedy and rotten luck in the first John Wick, which snowballs into a warpath against the world that made him in John Wick: Chapter 2 and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Most of his old associates want the Baba Yaga, but all John wants is to live for the memory of his wife.
This desire was weaponized by the High Table in John Wick 3, with the Elder permitting John to live so long as he serves the Table for the remainder of his days. John instead decided to stand against the Table once it became clear he would be living for them and not honoring Helen’s memory. This becomes John’s guiding mission in John Wick: Chapter 4, as he fights to live as a free man – however brief that may be. Doing so essentially means killing the Baba Yaga, which he nobly does in his duel with Caine, thereby freeing his old friend from the Marquis’ control, and ironically calling back to Viggo’s iconic speech.
While it remains to be seen if John Wick: Chapter 4 has definitively called time on Jardani Jovonovich’s journey, the idea that his death is more symbolic than literal may present a happier conclusion for the character. There is, of course, satisfaction in seeing John die peacefully as a free man no longer beholden to the rules of the High Table, but the idea of him living on his own terms may prove a more comforting interpretation. With John Wick 5 still very much on the table, a definitive answer may soon emerge.
Sources: Collider, The Hollywood Reporter
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