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SYFY WIRE John Wick: Chapter 4

Strong and silent: Keanu Reeves cut dialogue to less than 400 words in 'John Wick: Chapter 4'

John Wick doesn't say much. Not with his voice, anyway.

By Matthew Jackson
Keanu Reeves in John Wick Chapter 4 (2023)

John Wick is many things, but one thing he's not is a talker. The action hero originated by Keanu Reeves and pushed to his limit across four blockbuster movies has never been one to say much, particularly when his life is on the line and a gun will say more than his words ever could. But in John Wick: Chapter 4, the biggest and most ambitious film in the franchise so far, Wick took his preference for silence to new levels, with great results.

According to a count assembled by The Wall Street Journal, Reeves' Wick says fewer than 400 words throughout the whole of Chapter 4, which runs nearly three hours and features Wick hopping around the globe, battling enemies and reuniting with old friends. And, to drive home the point, the Journal noted that many, almost a third, of Wick's words are delivered alone, in one-word exchanges that make his point without resorting to full sentences. The character has never talked much, but even by John Wick standards, there's not a lot of speech in this film. The guy falls down stairs more than he talks this time around.

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Why? Well, according to the Journal's report, Reeves himself "stripped" a good portion of John's dialogue in Chapter 4, with the support of franchise director Chad Stahelski, reducing his words by half and instead relying on body language and, of course, fighting. 

“He isn’t just stoic,” Stahelski said, “he’s mysterious, and the mystery lets the audience fill in the gaps.”

Mystery has always been a major component of the John Wick films, with characters often referencing Wick's past exploits but frequently steering clear of explaining them outright. To add to the mystique, we often hear other characters, including Wick's enemies, talking about him like he's the most dangerous man on the planet, but Wick himself never says much to brag about his own abilities. That means that when he shows up to fight, we know that he means business, and we also know that everyone has reason to fear him. Throw in all the gunplay and stunt work, which Reeves usually steps up to handle on his own, and you've got a character that doesn't need to say much to make an impression.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters now. Chapters 1-3 are currently streaming on Peacock