JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen
Directed by: Chad Stahleski
Running Time: 2 hrs 49 mins
When a film series is first launched, whether by design or by wild accidental success, the quality dims with each successive title. How many times have you heard someone say, “Yeah, I like number three but the original was so much better.” This is what makes the “John Wick” series so remarkable because each one somehow exceeds expectations and is better than the previous one. This is true of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which is an edge-of-your-seat, action-packed film from start to finish.
We last saw John Wick (Keanu Reeves) bruised and battered after being shot multiple times, which was before falling several stories off a building. Since then, the has been hiding in the New York City underground thanks to the assistance of the charismatic Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). His mission is simple – get revenge against the High Table. However, while killing the Elder, the only person above the High Table, grants him some initial satisfaction, it ends up causing a rippling effect across the assassin community.
One immediate effect is the arrival of Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard, “It”), a High Table senior member, at the Continental Hotel in New York City. Because of their failure to kill John, the Continental’s manager Winston (Ian McShane) and his concierge Charon (the late Lance Reddick) are stripped of their duties. This is just the beginning of a thirst for vengeance by the Marquis who forces Caine (Donnie Yen, “Rogue One”), a retired and also blind High Table assassin, to kill John. The twist is that the two assassins are old friends.
John seeks refuge in the Osaka Continental where another friend, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada, “The Wolverine”), is the manager. But there is no hiding from the High Table and the Marquis’s assassins are soon swarming around John who is forced to kill more bad guys than in the previous three films combined in order to survive. Whether or not John gets his revenge is up to you to find out.
A continued strong attribute within the “John Wick” series is its choreography. A flaw for most action flicks with multiple fight scenes is that they come across as stilted. In the case of “John Wick,” its fight scenes have a chaotic fluidity that boils over into an operatic frenzy. It’s nothing short of masterful and credit to Reeves to being devoted to making his own scenes as realistic as possible.
Continuity is important as well. This comes in the form of director Chad Stahelski who has helmed every John Wick film since the series began nine years ago. The pacing and style remain as consistently entertaining now as it did in the beginning. More importantly, the continually evolving story is engrossing as it sucks you in from start to finish.
Some actors are seemingly born to play certain roles – Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, Sean Connery as James Bond, Sally Field as Norma Rae. Reeves was born to play two – Neo and John Wick. He still brings a fierce passion to the latter even though this is now his fourth time as this popular character.
Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is easily the best film so far of 2023 and if you haven’t seen the previous three films then only one question remains – why haven’t you?
“John Wick: Chapter 4” receives four stars out of five.