Like a much-calmer Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves has decided to spend his 50s getting repeatedly bounced off of cars, smashed through glass and shooting scores of nameless thugs for our entertainment. And with production of John Wick 4 currently underway, the 56-year-old icon appears perfectly content to roll all the way into his 60s dodging knives and engaging in spectacular feats of balletic violence.
News about the new installment of the beloved franchise — which began as a simple revenge B-move with style to spare in 2014 and has grown in scope, popularity and physicality with each successive installment — is coming fast and furious now that filming is underway. Here's everything we know about the return of the world's most lethal dog lover.
When will John Wick 4 be released?
The yet-untitled John Wick 4 was announced immediately after John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum was released to near universal acclaim in 2019, getting tagged with a May 21, 2021 release date. Fans quickly noticed it was the very same date projected for The Matrix 4, causing fans to decree May 21 Keanu Reeves Day, a holiday that remains inexplicably unofficial according to world governments.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The assassin known as Baba Yaga has survived car crashes, stabbings, dismemberment, torture, bullets and multi-story falls, but even he couldn't fend off COVID. Luckily, the film is back in production, with a scheduled release penciled in for May 27, 2022. (The Matrix 4, meanwhile, will debut in December 2021).
What is the new movie about?
[SPOILERS AHEAD] Parabellum saw Wick fleeing New York after being declared "excommunicado" by the High Table, a nefarious world-controlling syndicate of assassins who did not take kindly to John shooting one of its top members in the face on protected ground.
That led John on a global quest for vindication from the council's leader, all while being pursued by armies of killers and ninjas commanded by The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and sushi chef/assassin/John Wick superfan Zero (Mark Dacascos).
Eventually, John returned to NY and refused an order to kill longtime friend Winston (Ian McShane), owner of the Continental hotel that serves as an embassy and safe haven for the assassin world. After fending off scores of attackers side-by-side, Winston double-crossed John to appease the High Table, shooting him in the chest and sending him careening off the roof of the hotel. He was then scooped up by the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne), a master assassin who runs a shadow cabal hidden among New York's homeless population and vowed to wage war on the Table with Wick.
What, you thought these movies were still about Keanu Reeves avenging a dog?
Plot details are sparse for John Wick 4, but given Parabellum picked up within seconds of Chapter 2's cliffhanger ending, it stands to reason that the plot will involve John and the Bowery King teaming up to take on the global High Table on their own turf. That could mean that Wick gets to return to his roots as a covert assassin — his targets at this point believe him dead — though given the series' penchant for escalation, it's unlikely things will stay quiet for long.
The film is currently shooting in production in Berlin, with locations announced in Japan and France scheduled.
Who is returning for Chapter 4?
Reeves and Fishburne will give us the spiritual Matrix reunion that the fourth Matrix will deny us. McShane is set to return to the Continental as Winston, while Lance Reddick's Charon — the Continental concierge/dogsitter who took up arms alongside Wick in Parabellum — will also return.
Though Dillon is still unconfirmed, the character is definitely due for some comeuppance, so expect to see that particular villain dispatched sooner than later.
Who is joining the cast?
Seemingly every week, a new character actor has signed up for the film, leading fans to the conclusion that Reeves will eventually fight every actor in Hollywood. The most recent addition to rankle fans is Clancy Brown, the gruff actor who has graced the screen in everything from The Shawshank Redemption and Pet Semetary 2, the small screen in the likes of Carnivále and Billions, and even Bikini Bottom as the voice of Spongebob's Mr. Krabs. Brown's having a busy year, having just wrapped up shooting a villainous turn in Showtime's Dexter revival.
After weeks of speculation, the production finally made official the addition of English martial artist Scott Adkins. This is likely the biggest break for Adkins, who has a long and legendary career in direct-to-video hits like Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Wolf Warrior and Avengement. Given he's considered one of the best physical performers in the business, his appearance has fans extremely excited to see him square off against Reeves.
International martial arts legend Donnie Yen — who previously fought Adkins in Ip Man 4 and is best known to American audiences as the blind monk of Star Wars: Rogue One — will play an "old friend" of Wick's, which in this world could mean he's an ally, a threat or both. Yen's presence continues the series legacy of casting martial-arts stars to tussle with Reeves: in Parabellum, Wick faced off with Dacascos in addition to his Man of Tai Chi star Tiger Chen and The Raid alumni Cecep Arif Rahman & Yayan Ruhian.
Reeves will also have to go up against Hiroyuki Sanada — who knows a little bit about graphic carnage, having starred as Scorpion in this year's Mortal Kombat — and It villain Bill Skarsgård.
The film will also mark the feature debut of Japanese-British pop star Rina Sawayama in an unspecified but reportedly substantial role. Shamier Anderson of Stowaway has also signed on for the mayhem.
What comes after Chapter 4?
Chapter 4 and 5 were initially supposed to film simultaneously, but with the COVID break those plans fell through and resulted in the studio's decision to bring in a new director.
Meanwhile, Starz is moving forward with a spinoff series, The Continental, which traces the history of McShane's duplicitous hotelier and explores the globe-spanning assassin society. Back in July, Collider noted that the show has been re-envisioned as a three-part series, perhaps taking a cue from Netflix's Fear Street. Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli, Dead Presidents) will direct the first and third film, with an unknown director (rumored to be a woman) directing the middle chapter.
There's also the long-discussed Ballerina, a spinoff film focused on a ballet-student first glimpsed in Parabellum in a sequence that reveals bread crumbs about Wick's childhood spent training in the deadly arts at a Russian ballet school run by Angelica Huston.
Again, these are no longer movies about Keanu Reeves avenging a puppy.
Stay tuned for more news about the Baba Yaga as it becomes available.
See where John Wick stacks up against the 101 greatest action films of all time
And here's what Time Out said about Keanu's first outing in John's bulletproof suit