John Wick: Chapter 4 Writers Explain Why That Church Scene Is So Important [Exclusive]

This post contains major spoilers for "John Wick: Chapter 4."

"John Wick: Chapter 4" might just be the wildest and highest-octane film in the entire "John Wick" series, and with good reason. The fourth entry holds the honor of (supposedly) being the last in the saga. That means it not only has to supply all of the action that audiences have come to expect, it also has to tie up the character arc of John Wick himself. Amongst all the chaos and carnage, there needs to be an emotional center and a reminder of the reason why Mr. Wick is killing all of these people in the first place. That's why that scene in the church between John and Caine is so important, as screenwriters Shay Hatten and Michael Finch explain in an exclusive interview with /Film's Vanessa Armstrong.

Caine, played by martial arts legend Donnie Yen, is a vital addition to the "John Wick" universe. Not only does the blind assassin get to show off Yen's masterful Wing Chun skills, the character also provides a mirror to John as someone who similarly longs to leave the criminal underworld, but is tied back by familial retribution. In contrast to John Wick's lonely life, however, Caine has a daughter who's still alive; he's fighting for her protection, not just for vengeance. It's a juxtaposition that highlights the emptiness of John's violence, while also showing sympathy for both characters' motivations.

Nothing is as it appears

Michael Finch clearly lays out the reasons for both sides facing off against each other: "Caine is there for his daughter — to save his daughter, John Wick has to die. John is there to try and figure out how to free himself of John Wick." 

The quiet intimacy of the scene, taking place against the backdrop of the imposing church architecture, is a quick break from the action to reflect on the morality of these characters, and gives a chance for "these two guys ... to sit down for a moment and not have to be fighting," Finch explains. He elaborates that the interaction "just speaks to how this entire franchise exists in a gray area with deep shadows." 

Just like the secrecy of the fantastical underworld, "nothing is as it appears" and the characters' reasons for their violence is "not as simple as you think it is." These two assassins employ brutal methods, but their strict honor code and love for their families makes them endearing and gives them a heroic depth — a necessary step for adding weight to their fight, and setting up the emotional payoff that occurs during the ensuing duel.

For love of different people

As Shay Hatten points out, Bill Skarsgård's villainous Marquis is the true antagonist of the film because he lacks the honor that John and Caine live by. The co-writer explains how their meeting in a place of sanctuary, and the words they exchange their, makes their forced conflict feel so tragic:

"...Donnie [Yen, who plays Caine] and John are both doing this for love of different people. That makes them two people who, when they fight, it's more tense. Because unlike [the Marquis], you're not rooting for John to kill Donnie — you empathize with Donnie and you want him to have his freedom as well. I think that scene, to me, crystallizes what makes it so exciting to see them go up against each other."

Fortunately, Finch and Hatten pay off their relationship in the most satisfying way possible when John tricks the Marquis into his demise, sparing his friend Caine, but seemingly losing his life in the process (though we don't actually see a body in that grave, do we?). It's the best of both worlds: the audience gets to see John and Caine fight both against and alongside each other, all the while rooting for both of them to make it out alive. 

"John Wick: Chapter 4" is in theaters now.