Erica Lee has been involved with the “John Wick” franchise since its early stages of development, when it was supposed to be an indie revenge movie about a man devoted to his dog. When asked about the opening cut of the fourth (and perhaps final) installment of the film franchise, Lee was refreshingly forthcoming and honest about the quality of it:
“There [weren’t] really so many big lifts [in the initial cut]. We definitely shot a lot, but the movie was around three hours long for almost the entire post. The 3:45 was so hard and boring in parts and just a bunch of… I mean, it wasn’t good. [Laughs]. You didn’t miss a thing.”
The longer cut included some extended scenes at Sacré Coeur and Berlin, but it didn’t necessarily add much to the narrative, which plays out smoothly in the theatrical cut. Also, as Lee pointed out, there’s hardly any value in releasing an extended version. Chad Stahelski was “pretty happy with the final cut”, as the runtime of the fourth installment was never a creative constraint on the director in the first place.
Stahelski, however, was concerned about the initial runtime of the rough cut, telling IndieWire that he really felt as a nearly four-hour film, which encouraged him to strike a more measured balance between Wick’s screen time and key supporting characters. Stahelski “wanted to make sure that [Wick] he was still the center of the universe, that everything always led back to him,” and the longer version presumably failed to strike this balance. The final version, thankfully, pulls it off brilliantly, though we parted ways with Wick at several points. , it all eventually leads back to him, with each character having something unique to bring to the table.