Much has been made about the runtime of "John Wick: Chapter 4" in the lead up to the film's release. While the first three entries in the series were tight, two-ish hour action extravaganzas, director Chad Stahelski has delivered a monster 169-minute return for Keanu Reeves' expert assassin. Yep, nearly three hours of Mr. Wick doing his thing. But as we've now learned, the original cut of the film was far longer, and the filmmakers really had to work to get it down to something releasable.

Stahelski and the film's editor, Nathan Orloff, recently spoke with the folks at IndieWire, and during the conversation, the director revealed that the first cut they assembled was damn near four hours long. "To be really honest with you, zero was planned out. Our first cut was three hours and 45 minutes, and it felt like three hours and 45 minutes. We were like, 'Ih, we're so screwed,'" Stahelski explained. So, how did they manage to get it down to what audiences will see in theaters? A painful process of compression. Orloff had this to say about it:

"You just compress, compress, compress. I went through a pass where anytime someone repeated an idea they had already expressed, I cut it out. No repeated ideas. It's a very linear story, so there wasn't a ton of reconstruction or rearrangement we could do. It was just a matter of sifting out what we didn't need."

A Small Piece Impacts The Whole

While it sounds like the task of getting the fourth installment in the series down to a reasonable runtime was difficult, the results seem to speak for themselves. Early reviews for the film have been glowingly positive, and you can read our 9 out of 10 review from the SXSW Film Festival right here. But Stahelski also explained that this process was a grueling one for the editing team. Why, exactly? Because every single time they trimmed something from the cut, they would watch the whole thing again.

"My editorial staff probably hates me because even if we just took 30 seconds out of something, I'd make everybody watch the movie again. That's the only way you know you have the right pace. You feel that bump in movies all the time because they were doing it in pieces and not seeing it as a whole. The last thing you want to do is treat it as a bunch of parts."

It's fairly commonplace for filmmakers to create incredibly lengthy runtimes for early cuts of blockbuster movies these days, but this case is notable because the final trimmed movie still ended up being comparatively long in relation to other films in this franchise. That's not necessarily to say there was two movies' worth of story to tell in "John Wick: Chapter 4," but at the same time, we certainly wouldn't be mad if Stahelski released a "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy!"-style project cobbling together unused bits from the three hour and 45 minute cut. Hey, a man can dream.

"John Wick: Chapter 4" hits theaters on March 24, 2023.

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The post John Wick 4 Was Originally 4 Hours Long, And The Director Was Worried appeared first on /Film.