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'John Wick' director describes 'Chapter 4' as 'more of an epic odyssey' than other franchise films

John Wick: Chapter 4 hits the big screen March 24.

By Josh Weiss
Laurence Fishburne, Keanu Reeves, and Ian McShane in John Wick 4.

There's no denying that the John Wick franchise (now streaming on Peacock!) has come a long way since 2014.

What began with a simple mission of puppy-related revenge against the Russian mobsters has drastically spiraled into an all-out conflict with a clandestine criminal organization known as the High Table. The seemingly unstoppable hitman-for-hire played by Keanu Reeves got out of the killing game once, and now, he's going to try and do it again in Chapter 4 (in theaters everywhere this Friday).

"This one's more of an epic odyssey," returning stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski said of the movie's global scope during an interview for Empire's May 2023 issue (now on sale). "We're starting to feel like Odysseus on his way home home."

RELATED: Keanu Reeves and Jimmy Fallon face off in Pup Quiz on 'The Tonight Show'

Unlike many blockbuster properties that have been around for a while, the John Wick saga has consistently upheld a genuine seal of quality with each installment. The fourth chapter, for example, holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes score (an incredibly fresh 93 percent) out of all the movies released so far.

"Why a lot of sequels don't work as well is that they expect the magic to come from outside," Stahelski explained. "'Let's have a bigger set piece, let's blow more sh** up!' That's not the answer. The only way to make something better that you've already done is to make yourself better ... Keanu trained twice as hard, we wrote a different kind of story, the acts are different, the structure is different, the way I shot it is different. We tried to be better John Wick makers."

As we've noted before, Lionsgate originally hoped to shoot two Wick sequels back-to-back, though this plan was scrapped due to a combination of pandemic-related difficulties and an already demanding schedule for Chapter 4. While a fifth outing is still up in the air, Stahelski did hint that if the story does continue, he may decide to relinquish the director's chair to someone else.

"If I'd shot 4 and 5 together, we would have just done the same movie twice," he admitted. "We've been organic about how we tell the story and where we feel it should end. I think there's going to come a time when we'll know it. When I run out of stuff, if it can be handed off properly, awesome. If you can't, then you try to take that winning bow, smile, and be as classy as you can when you exit."

In that vein, Stahelski is only producing the two spinoff projects announced so far: The Ana de Armas-starring feature, Ballerina, and the upcoming Peacock prequel series, The Continental. Clocking in at just under three hours, John Wick: Chapter 4 hits the big screen this Friday, March 24. Click here to purchase tickets for the film.

Refresh yourself on all the puppy snuggles and gunplay with the first three John Wick films — now streaming on Peacock.