You would think fans of the John Wick franchise would be used to seeing characters getting shot. Yet seeing master assassin John Wick's former ally and host of The Continental hotel Winston shoot Wick at the end of John Wick 3: Parabellum elicited great shock from audiences. In a new interview, director Chad Stahelski opened up on his motivation behind including the apparent betrayal in the film's narrative.
"When we came up with the whole John Wick way we wanted to do this on the original, my partner David Leitch, Keanu and I all sat down, and we were like, "Look, these are the things we hate about some of the action movies that are currently going on. Everything's spelled way too much out for everybody." If you get notes from the studio, or anything like that, everything's got to be on the nose."
"We just wanted to be ambiguous about the world, where John's from... That's why we leave some of the questions at a fork in the road. And that's one of them we really wanted to put in this... Um, yeah, to answer your question."
So adding some ambiguity to Winston's character was important to the movie's creators. Chad Stahelski further hinted that Winston's actions may not be as cut and dried as they appeared onscreen.
"Did Winston mean to shoot him? He meant to shoot him. Did he mean to kill him? That's open for interpretation. You can take it one of two ways, and that's kind of where we pick up some of the unanswered questions in John Wick 4. Again, I like open-ended questions, sometimes, where not everything gets answered."
"I also like satisfying the audience, but I like leaving a little to your imagination and a little open for debate. And remember, the John Wick world is a little wacky. That's why it's really important to have somebody like Shay or Derek (Kolstad)... Every writing team that I've worked with, they get the weirdness of John Wick."
The fact that the universe of John Wick operates by it's set of rules and logic has been a big part of the franchise's appeal. And Winston's actions fit right into that scheme of logic, especially when considered against the limited options the character had at the moment of the shooting.
"So, if you think about it, in a very logistical, practical sense - I know it sounds weird, but we try to attack most of our issues from that standpoint. What other choice did Winston have? If he didn't shoot John, it would've been left up to somebody else to shoot John, probably in the head or something like that. The Continental could've been taken away from him or destroyed. So, Winston was kind of boxed in."
"Did he hope that John was going to live? Eh? He likes John. I would hope so. Did he know he was going to survive the 56-foot fall down to an alleyway? I don't know. That's a little ambiguous. Winston is a bit of a gambling man. So, I'd like to think, personally, that Winston's a very smart guy, and he doesn't do anything that wasn't planned. I don't think he's impetuous at all, so I'm going to leave you with that."
So while Winston's actions were completely deliberate, it seems they were not completely sinister in design. This means there is still hope for Wick and Winston to once again become friends someday, or at least arrive at some form of reconciliation in a future movie that could satisfy fans. This news original premiered at The Hollywood Reporter.