John Wick: Chapter 4 Almost Gave Us Baba Yaga Fighting On A Snowmobile [Exclusive]

This article contains spoilers for "John Wick: Chapter 4."

The most striking thing about Chad Stahelski's "John Wick: Chapter 4" is that there is a buttload of it. At a whopping 169 minutes, "Chapter 4" feels like a work print that has yet to be edited down, with every exposition and action sequence left in for good measure. As it turns out, the original cut of the film was actually closer to four hours, so it could have been a buttload-and-a-half. 

As the action scenes go, "Chapter 4" has a shootout on horseback, an extended fight in and around a hotel in Osaka, a massive brawl in a Russian nightclub, and a one-two-three-punch climax which strung together a fight in the traffic around the Arc de Triomphe, a shotgun battle in a dilapidated building, and a fight up the 222 steps leading to the forecourt of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. John Wick gets beaten up so much, his muscle mass is pretty much properly conditioned for a nice steak dinner. If you were to eat John Wick, would you gain his power? 

Given how much was left in, producer Erica Lee recently revealed, in an interview with /Film's own Vanessa Armstrong, that there were multiple action sequences that were conceived of, but left out. "John Wick," to remind the reader, takes place in a fantasy universe where massive and well-moneyed tribes of assassins live all over the world and murder each other by the score. The assassins live by a very strict and oblique code of conduct. They travel all over the world and have sommeliers who provide them with guns and armored tuxedos. Assassins will get dolled up and go out a-killin' in whatever posh world capital they happen to be in. 

One such killing ground was to be, Lee said, the top of a snowmobile. 

Nunchuks in the snow

The "John Wick" films are also, Lee recognizes, a mounting exercise in trying to outdo what came before. "Chapter 3" had to be even longer and larger than "Chapter 2." No wonder "Chapter 4" is as massive as it is. While brainstorming, Lee said, Stahelski would come up with one wild idea and, it seems, it would go immediately into the new movie. It seems Lee was willing to entertain any wild idea that initially made the movie bigger. She said: 

"I think after the third film we were like, 'Oh my God, we can never do this again.' And then I'll never forget, Chad and I had lunch one day and he was like, 'I'm thinking Japan. I'm thinking nunchucks and snow. Have you seen what they can do with snowmobiles these days?' And I was like, 'Okay, we have a movie.' It was such small pieces but I could just see the wheels in his brain spinning, and we were off to the races at that point."

Indeed, some of the year's new snowmobiles look pretty cool. In a weird stroke of luck, COVID-related delays and a scheduling conflict allowed Lee and the other "John Wick" filmmakers to really suss out their story and decide which action sequences would be most practical. Lee said: 

"Then there was Covid, but the good or the bad of it was that it gave us also some more time to develop the script and work on it. And Keanu did 'The Matrix [Resurrections],' so that changed. We had a little bit more time in between than we normally do." 

The marinating allowed Lee and Stahelski to make an action epic that earned $73.5 million in its opening weekend. 

No snowmobiles, sadly, but an impressive feat nonetheless.