How John Wick’s Cut Finger Was Symbolic Despite Story Concerns For Chapter 4

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Summary

  • The decision to cut off John Wick’s finger was initially made because they thought the third movie would be the last in the franchise.
  • For Stahelski and Reeves, the missing finger symbolizes the character’s inability to remarry and wear another wedding ring, adding depth to the story.
  • The symbolism behind Wick’s missing finger is further explored through the character of Harbinger, who shares a similar wound, representing an alternate path for Wick’s future.


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Director Chad Stahelski has explained the symbolism of Keanu Reeves’ missing finger, despite concerns that it would affect the story of John Wick: Chapter 4. In its 2019 predecessor, the titular hero seeks absolution from the Elder, the only figure who sits above the High Table. During his meeting with the mysterious desert-dwelling figure, Reeves’ John Wick cuts off his own finger and presents his wedding ring to the Elder in an act of fealty.

In a recent interview with Collider, Stahelski explained that the decision to cut off John Wick’s finger largely came about because they had thought the third movie would be the last in the franchise. However, when he eventually revealed plans for a fourth movie, one of the people working for Lionsgate responded by saying “that finger is gonna f**k us.” Though, for Stahelski and Reeves, the missing finger represented the character’s inability to remarry and place another wedding ring on, even if it did cause some practical issues. Check out his comments below:

Oh, yeah. [Laughs] You think the studio thought that was a good idea? In number three, we cut it off because we figured that number three was our last one. I have a friend over at Lionsgate, and as soon as we said “number four,” he’s like, “That finger is gonna f**k us.” I’m like, “Yep. It’s awesome.” But no, man, Keanu and I, we like stigmata. We like symbolism. So it wasn’t about taking a wedding ring, it was about taking the finger that ring’s on so we could never put a wedding ring on again. He’s killing the possibility of that future symbolism. That’s a powerful little mechanism for what we’re trying to say there. So no, I don’t regret it all. If anything, I kind of find it kind of funny. It drove my visual effects supervisor nuts, but you figure every shot with Keanu in the movie was removing that finger. So, you know, a little pain, but it was worth it.


How John Wick: Chapter 4 Continued To Reference The Missing Finger

Clancy Brown's character poster for John Wick Chapter 4

With John Wick: Chapter 4 seeing Reeves’ unstoppable assassin enact his vengeance against The High Table, one of the first characters he seeks to eliminate is the Elder for whom he first severed his finger. However, in a surprising turn of events, it was revealed that the original Elder that Wick encountered was already dead and gone too was the wedding ring he hoped to recover. While Wick still enacted his vengeance on the new Elder, even in the first few moments of John Wick: Chapter 4, it was made clear that his previous sacrifice was completely irreversible.

However, perhaps the most potent use of the symbolism behind Wick’s missing finger came not from Reeves’ character, but that of Clancy Brown’s Harbinger. An official emissary of The High Table and a staunch proponent of the rules that govern the underground world of the John Wick movies, Brown’s Harbinger can be briefly seen possessing an identical wound to Wick himself. While it is never referenced directly, the implication is that, at some point, Brown’s character was forced to prove his own allegiance to the Elder in a similar fashion to Wick.

Yet the pair’s shared wound has a potentially deeper meaning, one in which Brown’s Harbinger provides audiences a glimpse at what Wick’s own future may have been had he remained loyal to The High Table. With John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum finally providing its eponymous character with the absolution he sought, only to later throw it away to protect Ian McShane’s Winston, the Harbinger represents an alternate path in which Wick had killed Winston per the Elder’s commands. While severing his finger may have caused some practical issues, it actually served to provide the story of John Wick: Chapter 4 with a great deal of depth.

Despite the supposed death of the titular character in John Wick: Chapter 4, a fifth movie is currently in development.

Source: Collider

  • John Wick Chapter 4 Poster

    John Wick: Chapter 4

    Release Date:
    2023-03-24

    Director:
    Chad Stahelski

    Cast:
    Hiroyuki Sanada, Clancy Brown, Scott Adkins, Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Rina Sawayama, Donnie Yen, Lance Reddick, Shamier Anderson

    Rating:
    R

    Runtime:
    169 minutes

    Genres:
    Thriller, Crime, Action

    Writers:
    Shay Hatten, Michael Finch

    Distributor :
    Lionsgate

    Studio(s):
    Lionsgate

    prequel(s):
    John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

    Franchise(s):
    John Wick