‘John Wick 4’ First Cut Had a Runtime of Three Hours and 45 Minutes: ‘We’re So Screwed’

·3-min read

At 169 minutes, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a whole lot of movie. The two-hour-and-50-minute action extravaganza is powered by nonstop set pieces that are so frenetic and visceral that you’ll hardly realize you’ve been sitting in a movie theater for nearly three hours. Such breezy pacing did not exist in the film’s first cut, which director Chad Stahelski and editor Nathan Orloff told IndieWire clocked in at a whopping three hours and 45 minutes.

“To be really honest with you, zero was planned out,” Stahelski said about the movie’s runtime. “Our first cut was three hours and 45 minutes, and it felt like three hours and 45 minutes. We were like, ‘Oh, we’re so screwed.'”

More from Variety

Part of the reason “John Wick: Chapter 4” originally had and still has a massive runtime is because it greatly expands the world of its title character and introduces a handful of new supporting characters that all get their moment to shine, from Rina Sawayama’s Akira to Shamier Anderson’s mysterious Mr. Nobody and Donnie Yen’s blind assassin Caine. Introducing and exploring these characters while still committing to John Wick’s narrative inflated the runtime.

“I wanted to make sure that [John] was still the center of the universe,” Orloff said, “that everything always led back to him even though we were cutting away from him.”

“You just compress, compress, compress,” the editor added about getting the three-hour-and-45-minute cut down to 169 minutes. “I went through a pass where anytime someone repeated an idea they had already expressed, I cut it out. No repeated ideas. It’s a very linear story, so there wasn’t a ton of reconstruction or rearrangement we could do. It was just a matter of sifting out what we didn’t need.”

Stahelski said that every time the film lost even just 30 seconds of footage, he forced the post-production team to re-watch the movie over again to ensure the flow stayed involving.

“My editorial staff probably hates me because even if we just took 30 seconds out of something, I’d make everybody watch the movie again,” Stahelski said. “That’s the only way you know you have the right pace. You feel that bump in movies all the time because they were doing it in pieces and not seeing it as a whole. The last thing you want to do is treat it as a bunch of parts.”

The editing plan clearly worked, as “John Wick: Chapter 4” has earned franchise-best reviews from film critics. As Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review: “It’s conceived as a knowingly overstuffed gift to ‘John Wick’ fans, and on that level it succeeds.”

“John Wick: Chapter 4” opens in theaters nationwide March 24 from Lionsgate.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.