“Have you given any thought to where this will end?”
—–A reasonable question repeatedly posed to Keanu Reeves’ seemingly immortal hitman in this fourth entry.
222 steps. That’s what it will take for John Wick to make it up to decide his fate. There are of course obstacles, so many obstacles.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves), fresh off being shot off a roof by supposed friend Wilson (Ian McShane), at the conclusion of ‘Parabellum’, is on a vendetta to destroy the ‘High Table’, while Bill Skarsgårds‘ Marquis character as he tells us, is a man of exquisite tastes, sets out to take Wick down. And as the ransom rises commensurate with Wick’s kill count, the hunt is on again with the only surprising element being that the ‘High Table’ still has a flood of anonymous assassins to call upon following Wick’s trail of destruction to date.
The continued existence of Wick yields consequences for those who align themselves with him; a brutal truth that is delicately raised by the wonderful Hiroyuki Sanada’s character Shimazu, as another round of thugs descend. But that’s about as deep as it gets – story is secondary, spectacle is everything. And like its predecessors, the film exists in its own unique realm of ridiculousness; a place where Clancy Brown’s ‘Harbinger’ serves an eviction notice by unveiling a massive ornamental hourglass, and where Wick trades dancefloor blows with Scott Adkins’ Wilson Fisk-esque villain while the noticing revellers just continue dancing the night away. But we’ve not come here for social realism – we’re here for the kick ass baddassery of John Wick and the body count. And boy…ask and ye shall recieve
Director Chad Stahelski is an action maestro who, aided by stunt coordinators Scott Rogers and Stephen Dunlevy (yes we NEED a stunt category Oscars), orchestrates a symphony of destruction as electrifying as it is in-your-face. The ballet of violence, all marinated in a neon glaze, is beautifully choreographed and, unbelievably, still manages to pull new tricks out of its blood-soaked bag, whether it be Sanada’s staircase ascent using knives and a witless heavy’s body, or Reeves’ nunchuks razzle dazzle.
And while the set pieces in Osaka and by the Arc de Triomphe will dazzle, it’s also the brillance of the characters. Donnie Yen, as blind assassin Caine, does well, the Donnie Yen thing…and gloriously so.
It’s a veritable buffet of overblown excess, but not without the odd undercooked canape. Lawrence Fishbourne has almost blick and you missed it, little to do scene where he presents Wick with his dry cleaning like a subway-dwelling Q. Shamier Anderson’s bounty hunter ‘Mr Nobody’ is brilliant addition giving us a fresh character that is seemingly hellbent on that ransom to a sadomasochistic degree, making his later decisions a bit on the curious side. And one action set piece on the Sacré-Cœur steps seemingly threatens to go on forever, and it becomes my only gripe as it makes the film drag for a overly long bit of it’s 3hrs run time. But these are just nit-picks because despite being basically the same film for four installments now. Regardless of that ominous runtime, ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ somehow delivers yet another furiously enjoyable slice of bloody mayhem that, bizarrely, doesn’t outstay its welcome. A true experience as when have you ever seen a franchise go better on it’s fourth go in?
Where the series goes next remains to be seen, but it would be remiss to not mention the quiet impact of one of the story’s key contributors – Lance Reddick. His calm yet imposing presence has been one of the joys of this saga, and, in light of the recent sad news, his final line in this chapter couldn’t be more poignant. “It has been an honour, my friend”. Sir, the honour has been all ours. Rest in power my friend, you will be so very missed.
John wick chapter 4 is taken to the next level and by far, one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a LONG time, Extraordinary filmmaking & action sequences with stakes heightened like never before. It completely earns its 3 hr runtime, something you will only rarely ever hear me utter.
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Review screening: Wednesday, March 8, 2023 ~ Courtesy of Brigade Marketing
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 FROM LIONSGATE IS NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS