[The following story contains spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 4.]
Ding-dong, the Wick is dead.
John Wick: Chapter 4 director Chad Stahelski has closed the book on Keanu Reeves’ revered assassin, John Wick, and it comes as quite a shock considering there was once a plan to shoot John Wick: Chapter 5 on the heels of Chapter 4. But as Stahelski and his team of writers (Shay Hatten and Michael Finch) crafted the narrative, the story couldn’t help but gravitate towards a conclusion, and Stahelski knew that a fourth film would be most successful if it didn’t uphold the status quo.
However, considering that the John Wick franchise is Lionsgate’s flagship property at the moment, the studio, at first blush, wasn’t too keen on Stahelski and Reeves’ decision to call it a day.
“The response was, ‘What are you fucking thinking?’ The note was, ‘Are you fucking insane?’” Stahelski tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And Keanu and I just smiled and said, ‘Yeah.’ We decided we wanted to tie everything together, and we were like, ‘How do you give a proper goodbye?’ So that’s how we sold it to the studio because, at some point, this has gotta end, man.”
Now, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some doubts along the way, as Stahelski and his team conducted additional photography in order to shoot another possible ending that hints at John Wick’s survival during the funeral scene with Winston Scott (Ian McShane), The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and John’s dog. Ultimately, a single test screening informed Stahelski and Reeves that their first instinct for a definitive death was the right one.
“There was a different way to do [the funeral scene], and we wanted it to be a little bit more mysterious. That’s why you see the puppy look up at the end [during the funeral scene],” Stahelski shares. “So we did one test screening, and the audience revolted pretty hard about [the new ending shot during additional photography]. So we thought that we nailed it the first time, and to the studio’s credit, they didn’t even blink.”
Below, during a recent spoiler conversation with THR, Stahelski also remembers the late great Lance Reddick, from the first time they met on 2014’s John Wick to their final high five during press for Chapter 4.
Bravo, Chad. John Wick: Chapter 4 is a miraculous achievement.
It’s something, isn’t it?
Well, to start off on a sad note, I wrote the following setup to a question just a couple weeks ago, so here goes: “I have to imagine that it’s been difficult to find an emotional hook that comes close to the puppy in John Wick, but you pulled it off with Charon’s death because we all love Lance Reddick.” So, to ask the obvious, has it been impossible to process what has now also become a real-life goodbye to Lance?
I’m sure you’ve lost people, and it’s always tricky. You’re always stuck between the remembrance and the pain of losing someone, the loss, but you also have a bittersweet feeling because you’re thankful for knowing them. So it’s obviously a bit odd when you see what happens in the film.
Everyone always asks me, “What’s the secret of action?” and it’s not the action; it’s what happens before and after. When Bruce Willis runs through the glass in Die Hard, you’re already in it. No matter what that guy does, you’re in it. Jackie Chan, by the time he gets to the action, you already love him. So, whether he is juggling tea cups or kicking the shit out of people, you love the character. If you love who the story’s about, you’re going to love the story. If you love who the story is about, you’re going to be interested in what a character does, whether it’s going fishing or a martial arts sequence in John Wick. I’m a big Sergio Leone fan, and you remember even the smallest character in all his stuff. So one of the axioms on our top ten list of “What to do on John Wick” is that no part is too small or too big. Across the board, they all get that much attention to detail.
So when we were casting John Wick, Lance Reddick was one of the first people we ever cast after Keanu, of course. He might’ve been the first after Keanu, and we were big, big fans of his since The Wire. Dave Leitch and I were so ignorant about the industry, and we were so fearless that we’d go for everybody. We’d go out to Tom Cruise if we could. And remember back to the first John Wick and imagine how that script would’ve read. John Wick kills 84 people over a puppy. That doesn’t read well when you’re trying to pitch that. (Laughs.) But that’s the script that we went out with, and we literally had people laugh and go, “Yeah, no. This is going to be a pass.”
But when we went to Lance, he actually got it, and we explained, “You’re going to be Charon the gatekeeper. John Wick is going to be like Greek mythology. It’s a fantasy film like Lord of the Rings, but in modern day.” And Lance took all of about 10 seconds and went, “Oh, I totally get it. This is gonna be really cool.” And that was it. We were like, “Oh my God, this directing thing isn’t so hard. This is easy. We’ve got guys like Lance.” But that’s the kind of guy he was.
Anyway, cut to the writing of John Wick: Chapter 4, as a fan of Lance’s, do you think a director ever wants to kill off anybody? No, I spent ten years with Lance and Charon. But I called Lance after we had finished the script and went, “Okay, look, this is going to be a bit jarring, but I don’t want you to think I’m doing some gag or a Game of Thrones-type thing where we’re just killing you off for shock value or something like that. It’s going to happen in the first act, it’s going to mess up your head, you’re going to have questions but just promise me you’re going to read the whole thing. Just get to the end.” And to his credit, he called back and went, “Look, I can’t tell you I love it. I can’t tell you I’m not upset, but I can tell you that I don’t know another way to make this movie this good.” And again, that was Lance. He was such a great part of the property, and he was an integral part of it. The Continental exists with him and Ian McShane. That was our whole hook. But to his credit, as an artist and as a collaborative creative, he understood that you have to start with Charon dying.
Without Charon dying, you don’t get the Winston (Ian McShane) catalyst. You don’t get the cathartic nature of John Wick freeing himself for someone else. It’s all about friendship and camaraderie and amicus. It’s all about being a friend, and we didn’t want to do the typical tropes of adding a love interest … The original working title of the movie was Hagakure, which is this Japanese code of ethics between samurai. It was all about how only a samurai could know another samurai, only a cop could know a cop, only a thief could know a thief. It’s that bonding thing, and without Charon being killed, the whole thing isn’t set in motion. John also needs to be accountable for things. When Hiroyuki Sanada’s character says, “Well, they executed his concierge,” I need that to start John Wick’s journey or wrap up John Wick’s journey, however you look at it.
Cut to last Friday, we had literally just got off the plane in Toronto, but it seemed to be a very exciting and positive time. Just the tour and everything. All the screenings had been going really well, and we’d been so fortunate to have good responses. And South by Southwest had a really good reception, too. So we’d been talking to Lance probably every other day, and we had just seen him during the L.A. press, We left him with a high five, going, “Catch you later!” Lance was always one of the most positive cast members, and I have some very positive cast members. But Lance was a whole other level. He would walk up and down the hall at the London Hotel in Hollywood, and he would poke his head into everybody’s press room and say hi. He was a gentleman’s gentleman. Lance was just that guy, man. Before he even sat down for his cup of coffee or breakfast, he’d go by all our rooms and say hello. So we high-fived and said, “See you in L.A.” And then when we got off the plane, Derek Kolstad, the original writer who’s very close with Lance and his family, called me and said that Lance had passed. We hadn’t even put the bags in the room yet, and I made one call to Keanu. He answered and I was like, “Hey, man. I gotta come see you in your room.” And he was like, “Sure, come on up.”
So he opened the door, and I was like, “Look, I have some bad news. Lance just passed away.” And after the initial “what the fuck?” shock, everything went quiet. And then Keanu looked at me and we were like, “This is for him.” We only had two or three hours before we had to go on stage in Toronto and do the thing again, but that’s obviously nothing compared to what his family and his close friends are going through. So, for the next hour and a half before our screening, we just told Lance stories, and we realized how lucky we were to have worked with him. Dave and I were first-time directors when we cast Lance, and he was so fucking experienced. But we couldn’t have done it without Lance, Keanu, Ian [McShane], Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist. We had so many good people, and even though they were working for us, they were actually mentoring and teaching us. It was one of the most fortunate times in my life.
And when Lance came down to set for the first time, he said, “I’m gonna do an African accent. I’m gonna play it very zen. I’m not gonna move.” Charon looked like the Oscar statue. That’s how proper the guy was, and that was all Lance. So he taught us to shut up and listen to the pros once in a while, and I have nothing but incredibly positive memories of Lance. He just always made you feel good about being you. He made everybody feel better when he walked into the room.
Did you move mountains to add a dedication card to the movie in time for release?
I don’t think most people understand how it all works when DCPs [Digital Cinema Package] go out. You can’t just recall the DCPs that we had already sent to theaters, worldwide. But everybody involved just went, “Look, we gotta figure this out somehow.” So we made the request and fought for it, but Lionsgate didn’t miss a beat. They were like, “We’re on it,” and they literally hung up and managed to get the card in for the L.A. premiere.
So I’m not exactly sure how it will roll out because of timing. It’s just so fucking difficult, but they’ll get it out there as much as they can. And for our second wave, home video and whatever else that means, yes, we’ll be able to do it. Lionsgate has been non-stop diligent about it, but it’s very hard to just pull back DCPs and re-edit them because they’re all locked. But I have faith we’ll get it out as much as we can, and by the time you see it at home and on any of the streamers or networks, the dedication to Lance will be in there.
So John Wick has seemingly met his end in John Wick: Chapter 4, and it came as a bit of a surprise since there was once talk of a John Wick 5. Is this a result of Keanu listening to his body, or did the story keep pushing you towards a conclusion?
(Laughs.) If Keanu’s body told him to stop, he still wouldn’t stop. That dude moves pretty well for being 58 years old, and he’s got willpower for days. I think it’s more that we have both been a part of different franchises that have tried to shoot two movies at once, and all that does is give you one movie that you cut in half. I mean, the biggest accolade I could ever get is that we got a little better between each John Wick movie. You’re constantly improving because you’re working on your craft, but I only get to direct on set. Some people just shut off when they’re not directing, but that’s when we go to work. My stunt team is in the gym every day at 6:00 AM because we gotta practice and get better. My writers and I are writing more now than we did when we were working on the show [John Wick: Chapter 4]. So, now is the time to get better.
If I did a fourth and fifth movie together, the fifth movie would just look like four. The colors between three and four are so much different because digital intermediates have improved. DaVince Resolve, the actual program, has evolved, as have cameras like the new Alexas. On number three, we had problems with reds, and now that problem is all gone. So the technology is better, I’m better, but you just need that time.
And honestly, the real reason we didn’t do four and five together was because I raised my hand. I even went to Keanu and said, “I’m just not good enough to do four and five. I’m good enough to do one. I can make a difference between three and four, but I’m not good enough to somehow magically get better in the middle of the process between four and five.” The reason these movies keep getting better is because we keep getting better, but I need the time to go to school and get better. So that’s the real reason why we divided it up at the time. I’m not a good enough director to deliver two uniquely special experiences.
At this point, you could always finagle Chapter Four’s ending into another movie, but when you informed the studio that you wanted to bury their crown jewel, did they urge you to reconsider?
(Laughs.) Urge is a funny word. I won’t get the phrase right exactly, but the response was, “What are you fucking thinking?” The note was, “Are you fucking insane?” And Keanu and I just smiled and said, “Yeah.” (Laughs.) Honestly, it’s all about the why with Keanu and I. Why do it just to do more fighting? We’ve done that. When we decided to do number four, it was because we had a why. We did one at a time so haphazardly, so this was our chance to tie up everything else. If I was watching John Wick: Chapter 3, I’d be going, ‘Ah, fucking come on! Give me an ending! How is he going to get out of this?”
So almost a year later, we decided we wanted to tie everything together, and we were like, “How do you give a proper goodbye?” So that’s how we sold it to the studio because, at some point, this has gotta end, man. They saw it as a repetitive thing, but we just thought, “Look, the way to make a better, bigger, stronger, faster John Wick is to give something that we haven’t given the other ones and that’s a conclusion.” It’s consequence. You can’t do a movie about consequences and not have consequences. So, luckily, [Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chair] Joe Drake and [Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president] Nathan Kahane got behind us and said, “Okay, we’ll listen. How are you going to do it?” And I was like, “Well, I’m not going to do it as a scene. The whole movie is gonna be about saying goodbye and friendship and consequence and all the tie-ins that we do.”
And it’s hard to try to get that on paper when you read it, even if you understand what the thematics are. But the answer is what Hiroyuki’s character says, “A good death only comes after a good life.” That sums up the movie. So in the two hours and 38 minutes [without credits], how do we give John, instead of redemption, those last few moments of a good life? And it was by saving an innocent, by showing friendship and by showing that John actually understands that he’s fucked a lot of people over and that there are consequences to killing 86 people over a puppy. I’m also fascinated by etiquette and ceremony and ritual and that thematic or that chivalrous attitude of the Samurai code, Bushido. We flipped it a little bit, but that’s how we did it.
But to be honest with you, it was a little sketchy during test screenings. I haven’t told too many people this, but we did additional photography and shot a different ending. It wasn’t at the duel, but we did reveal that John Wick … There was a different way to do [the funeral scene], and we wanted it to be a little bit more mysterious. That’s why you see the puppy look up at the end [during the funeral scene]. So there was another thing that we tested, and we were open to testing both [endings] because Keanu and I just wanted to make a good movie. We just wanted to feel what was most satisfying. So we did one test screening, and the audience revolted pretty hard about [the new ending shot during additional photography]. So we thought that we nailed it the first time, and to the studio’s credit, they didn’t even blink. That night, literally in the theater, we all got it. We all saw the reactions, and we all high-fived each other and said, “We have a good movie.” So Lionsgate said, “Let’s go with the ending that you guys feel strongest about,” but initially, they were like, “What the fuck?” Then, when they saw how we did it and how the movie came together, people got behind it because it chokes you up at the end.
The Ana de Armas-led spinoff, Ballerina, was probably going to have John Wick character cameos anyway, but did you agree to give extra attention to that movie for the sake of the studio wanting to keep the franchise going?
When anyone, let alone a whole studio, comes to you and says, “We want more,” you have this knee-jerk response to say no. You have this control-freak nature because you don’t want them to mess with anything, but at the same time, you’re also very flattered that people like your ideas. Creatively, I only have what’s in my head and what my influences are. So when they came to us with this pitch for Ana de Armas and Len Wiseman, we kind of just went, “That’s a great idea.” I love Len as a director. I’m friends with him, and he’s a great guy.
And Len and the studio have been so respectful of John Wick that Keanu and I were like, “Okay, that’s super cool, but don’t be too respectful. You gotta go out and do your own thing. You gotta put your own spin on this. That’s how we keep this going. Let’s try to hold true to what we love about it.” So, other than initiating and trying to give Len all the support that he needs, [Ballerina], in a good way, is a different entity from us. A spinoff is a weird word, but it’s a story about a tangent world to John Wick’s. And hopefully, Len hits things that we never hit or has opportunities that we didn’t have with our story structure. So I wish him the best with that.
Was there ever a reality where John Leguizamo’s Aurelio, Thomas Sadoski’s Jimmy the Cop, Halle Berry’s Sofia, David Patrick Kelly’s Charlie and Kevin Nash’s Francis joined Winston and The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) at John’s funeral?
We had a much bigger thing going on, but as you can tell, I spent money quickly. (Laughs.) So by the time we got done with five countries, a hundred days of nights and 200 stunt performers, the funeral was going to be one of the last things we shot, and we just didn’t have anything left. So, in my head, hopefully, we’ll go forward with another version of a TV series or something like that where we can bring back all these lovely, delicious characters, everybody from Common and Halle to Nash, Leguizamo and David Patrick Kelly. Tom Sadoski’s first scene as Jimmy in John Wick is still my favorite scene of all the Wick movies. “You, uh, workin’ again?” So if I could bring them all back in future through satellite projects, I would in a second. Absolutely.
It must’ve been quite a tough decision to figure out who should have the honor of killing John Wick, so had Donnie Yen been at the top of your wishlist for a while?
Oh my God, since I was a kid. But Donnie’s got his own crew, and he’s directing and producing over in China. So you don’t know, and it’s always a little scary to meet your heroes. You never know what they’re going to say. So we contacted one of our producers, Basil Iwanyk from Thunder Road, who was developing a different project with Donnie, and he set up the call. And I was like, “Hi Sir, I’m Chad. Pleasure to meet you.” We had met once a long time ago through Yuen Woo-ping, the famous choreographer, but just in passing. And Donnie is very direct. He doesn’t mince a lot of words, and he was like, “I love your movies. What can I do for you?”
So I thought to myself, “Okay, that’s a fairly good start,” and I was like, “I love your movies right back So we’re doing this new movie …” (Laughs.) But Donnie hasn’t had a lot of positive experiences in Hollywood. He’s had a few, but sometimes, they’ll just bring him in for the punches and kicks, and Donnie enjoys the character and acting part. The martial arts are always secondary to him. It’s funny to say, but it’s absolutely true. He is also one of the biggest cinephiles I’ve ever met. American cinema, too. From [Federico] Fellini to Orson Welles, he goes way back. So he was like, “Look, are you just bringing me in to punch and kick?”
The John Wick scripts are always a little loose with character. We hang thematics and rough dialogue, and then when we cast the person, that’s when we really go to work and tailor fit the role. That’s why everybody feels so natural in their roles. And so over a three-week process, we went back and forth to customize and really carve out the role, and he didn’t commit until he knew we were serious about making this for him. We wanted to make him cool like Chow Yun-fat in The Killer, and the Bruce Lee outfit, and how we were going to have him be the quick quip and comedy guy rather than the stereotypical blind guy.
And then to be on set with Donnie Yen, you should have seen the stunt team those days. Everybody was standing straight up, and we got to work with one of the best at what he does. Even I got to touch hands with him and choreograph and fanboy out. So I couldn’t be more proud of what he did in the movie, performance wise.
When John saved Tracker’s (Shamier Anderson) dog, that put a bow on the entire franchise for me. I was fine with whatever happened from there because I got that moment that tied the series together. Was that full-circle moment conceived pretty early?
As soon as we came up with the idea of the Tracker with a dog, we were like, “We had John with his puppy. We had Halle Berry with her dogs, but we never really had a dog as a bad guy to John.” So we wanted a dog that kind of disliked John, and then John would have to save that dog. I mean, it’s a John Wick movie, so he’s gotta save the dog at some point. But we wanted the dog to be a little bit antagonistic to John for the whole movie until he saves the dog, and the dog and the Tracker switch sides. The dog’s part was much bigger in the original script, and the Tracker and the dog saved John a bunch of times while also hunting him down. The original cut was 3 hours and 45 minutes, and even though I’m pretty crazy, I’m not that crazy.
What did you cut out for the most part?
When John got to Berlin, we had a whole section that we cut out. It was probably three or four scenes, and then some more interaction between Shamier’s character and Keanu. There were a couple side characters and some other scenes of logistical stuff and fun things for John to do that we cut. In the nightclub, we had quite a bit of dog action in there and stuff. We didn’t cut anything that was bad. In fact, it breaks my heart now to think about it. If I had just released the club scene, you’d be like, “This is fucking perfect. Don’t cut a thing.” But when you watch two hours and 40 minutes of it, you gotta make it a bearable ride. We knew fully well it was gonna be a two-and-a-half hour movie. Without the credits, it’s 2 hours and 38 minutes. There’s 10 minutes of credits after, and that’s for everyone who keeps telling me it’s three hours.
We cut out probably four or five great gags from the Arc, but as the director, even I was like, “I’m fucking bored as shit.” So you have to constantly trim, but even when you trim, you can’t just go back and look at the scene. You have to get your ass over to the screening room and take four hours out of your day. We’d watch the whole movie two to three times a week. That’s the only way you’ll ever know the pace, especially if you’re rolling the dice with a 2 hour and 38 minute movie. And you can’t stop it. Just watch it and commit. So we tried to be the audience as many times as we could, and that’s how we found the pace. But you gotta make those sacrifices for the whole.
When Mission: Impossible – Fallout shot at the Arc de Triomphe, they only had two hours on a Sunday morning to shoot their motorcycle chase against traffic, and 30 minutes of time was spent just getting cars going in the right direction. Did you have a bit more leeway?
We were pretty sneaky about how we did it. We did a lot of it in layers. We talked to some of the people that worked on Mission, and God bless them for trying it that way, but there’s no way I could execute our sequence with that methodology. So by having one of the best teams on the planet, we were like, “Alright, how are we gonna do this because we can’t shut down the Arc for two weeks?” So we figured we needed about 10 days to do the sequence, safely, and we went and shot a bunch of the Arc from every different angle. It was still during the Covid lockdown in Paris, and so we managed to LiDAR and three dimensionalize the entire Arc. Then we got all our traffic and top shots, and we rebuilt that so that we could just put the Arc in with some of its cars and our own stunt cars. And then we did this almost-quadruple layering process and digitally stitched it all together.
Honestly, we were maybe four weeks out from locking and delivering the DCP, and we still hadn’t quite nailed it. My post team was fantastic, but they got it together with no time to spare. So it was incredibly hard, and we had to just roll the dice and hope to God it was going to work. So we had a small advantage over Mission as we were coming out of Covid. Paris was still locked down, but we got there sooner and did all of our drone and visual effects and LiDAR work of capturing all the images. And there’s nothing comp’d there. Those are all real locations. We managed to get it all right before the city opened again and all the tourism came back. So we were just really lucky with timing.
Of all the sequences, which one pushed you and your team to the brink of insanity?
Every set piece probably drove somebody crazy, but logistically, the Arc was the hardest. When you have your lead actor driving 40 miles per hour into oncoming traffic, the penalty of one mistake is epic. Add 50 stunt drivers, a dog and stuntmen, and a lot can happen if one guy goes outside his lane and gets hit by these cars at 20 to 40 miles an hour. There’s a reason why people haven’t done this kind of sequence before because it just takes so much planning. My stunt team will tell you that I am the most cautious, paranoid guy on set when we’re doing stunts. I’ve unfortunately had the opportunity to see things go bad, and so I’m a nervous wreck. There’s the quote, “The anxiety is killing me. I hope it lasts forever,” so you learn to love the anxiety. But when Keanu throws a 180 at 45 miles an hour as other cars are passing, if anybody is off by a meter, we’ve got problems. I’m literally shitting my pants behind the monitor for two weeks straight going, “Please, please, please just nobody get hurt.” But at the same time, you can’t let that paralyze you. If we all do our jobs right, we’ll get something safely that’s pretty fantastic.
We’ve talked in the past about how you love long takes but not necessarily oners.
Yeah, I don’t like oners to be honest.
Is the dragon-breath shotgun sequence as far as you’ll go?
Yeah, [DP] Dan Laustsen has taught me pretty well over the years, and to me, every scene is about what’s visually or aesthetically pleasing. This is a top shot, and most people don’t do them because you see the floor and you don’t see all the shapes of the bodies and there’s no motion in it. So with all the big muzzle flashes and debris, you just have this whole horizontal meets vertical layering, which I thought was really interesting. And then if we kept changing the floors in this abandoned place and showed some of the roof, we thought we could make it beautiful. The fun would then come from lighting guys on fire and going longer than you think. In fact, when the top shot goes back up, that was all one take.
But let’s be really fucking clear what a oner is. A oner is with no cuts. A oner is not a shot with 20 digital cuts. If you’re doing a whole movie that way like 1917, okay, I get that, but I don’t think it’s the best way to tell a story. But Birdman is one of my favorites, and I like the subversive nature of Children of Men’s long takes. But if all you got is a bunch of digital stitches because you’re trying to do a gag, well, you need to go figure out better sequences if you’re a choreographer. If it makes me believe something about the character, that’s great, but if it’s just a gag and that’s all you got, we all know it’s not a oner.
Go back and watch the behind the scenes of the stair sequence in Tom-Yum-Goong, Tony Jaa’s film. That’s one take with no digital stitching. They fucking figured it out. It’s amazing. So I can respect that, but it does run outta gas a little bit. And the minute you start to lose momentum, you gotta switch gears. We’re not here for the ego of one shape. We’re here for entertainment. So if I can get you in it, good, but even as a big fan of [the dragon-breath sequence], I knew we had to cut. But then we fuck with you and go back up to the top shot.
Since 2014, your name has been attached to 55 movies in development.
I know you have to play it coy, but can you say what the leader in the clubhouse is right now?
I’m very lucky and proud to be attached to Rainbow Six with Michael B. Jordan. It’s fantastic to be attached to Ghosts of Tsushima, and to still have my fingers in the Highlander franchise is fantastic. So those are the three things that have my foreground, but I also have Black Samurai with Netflix, which is this sci-fi samurai kind of thing. It’s fucking fantastic. And Shibumi with Warner Bros. So those are all the ones.
And to be honest, it’s always the algorithm of availability, the script being ready and cast. And do I have my head around it if it all lines up? But those are the things I love the most of all the other things you read. And there’s also a lot that I like to produce and develop, but foreground, those are all big and personal things that I love. So I’m gonna get through all this in the next week, see how we do and if I can still draw a breath, I’ll probably get a little sleep. And then I’ll dive into them all and see where the magic is gonna happen.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is now playing in movie theaters. This interview was edited for length and clarity.