By all accounts, the John Wick: Chapter 4 premiere screening at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival was a rousing success. Fans seemingly love this cinematic universe of hitmen and cartoonish violence; A-list actors continue flocking to the multiple sequels; and Hollywood guy guy Keanu Reeves anchors the entire franchise with his mix of easy likability and experience handling a handgun (and many, many other types of Wick weaponry).
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Reeves attending the premiere and hopping up on stage at the behest of director Chad Stahelski didn’t hurt, either. Variety called the audience’s reception to Reeves “unbridled enthusiasm.” And good thing, too, because the latest Wick epic runs at a nearly three-hour pace — an absolutely staggering duration for a comic book-style sequel.
But apparently the fervor never waned, because “booming ovations” followed not only the film, itself, but also complex action set pieces set in Paris, Berlin, and Osaka within the film. Audible ‘gasps’ could be heard during major twists and turns. Afterwards, the consummate professional Reeves even appeared “shell-shocked” by the SXSW reception.
“You guys are amazing,” Reeves said. “Thanks for that experience. You guys are fucking awesome.”
Added Stahelski, “This is one of the best audiences of all time.”
One of the more ‘accessible’ film festivals for fans, the SXSW crowd always offers the John Wick films a warm reception
The rest of the Q&A that followed contains too many spoilers to really cover, but one audience question (regarding favorite moment while filming) elicited a strong response from Stahelski.
“It was the first day Keanu came on set,” he said. “He had the suit back on and it was the first time we were back together in three years. So it was pretty special.”
Like every other Wick film, “Chapter 4” relies heavily on baroquely staged and choreographed fight scenes. One such scene unfolds in one unbroken take which Stahelski said took a week to film. Then Reeves cut in: “And months and months of planning and training.”
Some of the questions came from movie critics, but many came from fans and admirers of Reeves. One such fan asked The Matrix alum if he feels like he’s getting older.
“Yeah man, I age,” he replied wearily. “I really — I age. It’s happening, man.”
And then after Reeves said he kept Wick’s watch and wedding ring from the previous movies as a souvenir, someone shouted, “I’ll marry you!”
“Yeah, be careful what you wish for,” Reeves quipped.
Perhaps the most interesting spoiler-free question came from a fan wondering if the character Wick would appear in any of the planned Wick universe spin-offs, like The Continental or Ballerina. The question seemed to legitimately puzzle Reeves and Stahelski.
“Uh, not sure yet,” the director said, followed immediately by a tentative “No” from Reeves — who then contradicted himself. “I have a cameo in Ballerina, that’s true.”
John Wick: Chapter 4 opens in theaters on March 24.