John Wick’s 4th outing has dazzling action, memorable villains, and a great story; easily one of the best action movies ever made.
Keanu Reeves is back once again in the 4th installment of the action-thriller franchise John Wick: Chapter 4. The sequel to John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum has Wick (Keanu Reeves) still on the run and still seeking revenge against members of the High Table. With an ever increasing bounty on his head and the odds of his death likewise increasing, Wick seeks a way to end all the chaos once and for all.
While many action franchises start to deteriorate in quality and enjoyment over the course of their sequels, John Wick: Chapter 4 breaks this convention much like its hero breaks bones (and more) with an utterly fantastic action spectacle that somehow never gets boring, despite running nearly 3 hours, and maintains the awesomeness delivered in the original John Wick.
After being shot by Winston (Ian McShane) and left for dead at the end of Parabellum, Wick finds refuge with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) where he prepares for revenge. After Wick successfully kills The Elder (George Georgiou), the “one who sits above the Table”, the group grants the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), a member of the High Table, unlimited resources to find and kill John Wick.
With a wide net out looking for him, Wick has few places and friends he can turn to. The odds against him become even worse when his old friend, Caine (Donnie Yen) – a blind, yet still highly deadly assassin – is forced out of retirement to kill him. On top of that, a skilled tracker calling himself “Nobody” intervenes just enough to keep Wick alive in order to push the bounty on Wick even higher to ensure a massive payday for himself. If Wick is going to end the massive international manhunt aimed at him, he’ll need to fight through an army of killers in order to carry out a plan suggested by the man who betrayed him at the end of Parabellum.
The John Wick franchise stands out from other action films because of their incredible action sequences that improve and somehow get more creative with every sequel. What the franchise isn’t famous for, though, is quality acting. There’s nothing wrong with that because we all know what we came to see – Keanu delivering fantastic gun-fu action scenes. That’s it. He even delivers the least amount of spoken words in this chapter – just 380 words.
Having said that, what makes Chapter 4 superior to the previous sequels isn’t just all the creative ass-kicking and dazzling choreography but the caliber of villains who deliver some surprisingly memorable performances. Great action films demand great villains, and John Wick 4 totally delivers.
Bill Skarsgård is perfectly cast as the Marquis Vincent de Gramont, absolutely nailing the arrogant, aristocratic and cruel antagonist who loves the power he possesses and will do whatever it takes to kill John Wick – albeit without putting much risk to his own life. Skarsgård more than makes up for some of the poorer casting of antagonists that let down the previous sequels such as Ruby Rose and Asia Kate Dillon.
Donnie Yen is also fantastically great as Caine, an old friend of John Wick forced out of retirement to kill Wick. His story arc is the most compelling out of all the characters (sorry Wick) as he doesn’t want to kill anybody but must do so in order to protect his daughter. He’s driven by love, not revenge, and Yen expertly portrays the conflicted but dangerously lethal Caine. I would argue this movie is really more about his character than Wick as you are rooting for him more than our hero.
Chad Stahelski (John Wick 1-3) has delivered another incredible action thriller sequel that stands out amongst the 4-film franchise and amongst action movies in general. He’s taken what we’ve come to expect from action sequences and pushed things even further with new weapons, new locations, improved combat filming, and so much creativity. In fact, bringing in martial arts stars like Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada was a masterful stroke that helped make this movie feel more refreshing to watch than the previous two films.
His team of talented filmmakers have created impressive action scenes – particularly those involving vehicles – that often made me wonder “how did they do this?” There’s a scene with John Wick inside a muscle car with no doors, doing multiple donuts around some bad guys while blasting at them in one extended shot. It’s done in such a way that it looks like Keanu is really doing it, despite obvious stunt work. If it’s blue screened, you can’t tell. Very impressive stuff.
While there’ss plenty of impressive action, Stahelski also delivers a John Wick story that isn’t centered around its hero. After all, how many movies can you have where the hero revenge-kills hundreds of assassins out to kill him and still find it interesting? Here, it’s hard to root for Wick because he gets more of his friends who try to help him injured or killed. Some great friend he is. The one you’re really cheering for and worried about is Caine because, if he fails to take down John Wick, his innocent daughter will pay the price. It’s a very different dynamic than we’re used to and plays out well when it comes to the ending.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is an amazing action thriller and one of the best reasons to head to your local cinema since Top Gun: Maverick. Just like that Tom Cruise masterpiece, Chapter 4 reminds us of the power a truly cinematic experience can and should be, all while giving us a story that’s pure entertainment. Those seeking intense, creatively engineered action, a hero with minimal dialogue, memorable villains will find all that and more in John Wick’s latest – and possibly last – epic adventure. It’s easily one of the best action movies ever made.
- MPAA Rating: R
- Release Date: March 24, 2023
- Distributor: Lionsgate
Originally published on April 15, 2023 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/movie-reviews/john-wick-chapter-4-2023/