To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a neo-noir action thriller directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick) from a screenplay written by Shay Hatten (Army of the Dead) and Michael Finch (Predators). Featuring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, and Ian McShane; it is the fourth installment in the John Wick franchise. The story follows John Wick as he continues his attempts to free himself from the high table.
In New York City, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) trains in the underground lair of the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburn). After receiving a new suit he prepares to exact his revenge against the High Table. John then travels to Casablanca to locate the Elder, the only person above the High Table, in the desert. After realizing the old Elder is dead, the new Elder (George Georgiou) tells John that death is his only escape. Angry, John then shoots him and leaves.
Back in New York Winston Scott (Ian McShane) is summoned to meet with the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), a senior member of the High Table. His concierge Charon (Lance Reddick) accompanies him to the meeting even though he is not required. The Marquis chastises Winston for his failure to assassinate Mr. Wick even though Winston states that he shot him off of the roof. As punishment, the Marquis strips him of his duties as manager and has the New York Continental destroyed.
I first saw John Wick while working at a Regal movie theater. I was going in to clean a theater playing the movie and caught the final scene where a wounded John Wick saves a dog that was about to be euthanized. While watching I began to wonder what were the events that led to this finale. Seeing as there were only two people in the theater at the time I felt maybe it could’ve been another dud but both guys left extremely happy with the film. As a big fan of Keanu Reeves growing up, I began to feel that his movie career was circling the drain. The previous year I had seen Man of Tai Chi and 47 Ronin with both films leaving me hilariously disappointed. I was over being excited about his projects, but something inside told me to give John Wick a shot. Working at Regal came with the perk of free movies so at the end of my shift I decided to watch it and the rest is history.
Fast forward many years later, I no longer work at Regal, I occasionally get free movies, and I couldn’t wait to see what Stahelski and Reeves did with John Wick: Chapter 4. To start, the only negative thing I can see viewers not liking about this movie is that John Wick is practically a video game character at this point. He is an indestructible superhuman with the strongest plot armor of all time. And it’s not just him! There are a few characters who are shot, stabbed, hit by cars, and suffer terrible injuries only to show up a couple of scenes later acting like they were only scratched. But once you get passed that minor issue, the movie is a blast! This is the best theatrical experience I have had in a long time and worthy of the extraepic™ tagline.
The cinematography and set design is beautiful. The camera flows elegantly from action scene to action scene making use of every nook and cranny of the screen. There are drone shots that follow John through a dilapidated building as he shoots his way through an army of hitmen. The neon lights of the club sequences flood the screen with a multitude of colors. Not a single scene in this movie can be considered boring. The fight sequences are incredible. This movie is exactly why stunt coordination needs an Oscar category! It’s not just the gunplay and combat, but the way the fights move the story forward and manage to be unique every time. There are car chases in the city, horse chases in the desert, and a few chases on foot. The variety of stunts shown in this film would make even Tom Cruise proud.
The cast is also stellar. Keanu Reeves is still the focus, keeping Mr. Wick as a man of few words with a drive no one can match. From beginning to end you root for him to find some kind of escape from the life he was drawn back into. Reeves’ performance is further elevated by the new and familiar faces in the franchise. Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, and Ian McShane turn in solid performances once again as the Bowery King, Charon, and Winston respectively. And with the untimely passing of Reddick, his role as Charon is even more emotional this time around.
As for the new faces, Shamier Anderson turns in a likable performance as the Tracker. Seems like he’s gearing up to star in a potential spin-off. Hiroyuki Sanada and Rina Sawayama are wonderful as Shimazu and Akira. The father and daughter pair are the manager and concierge of the Osaka Continental. Shimazu of course is an old friend of John’s similar to Sofia (Halle Berry) in the third film. Donnie Yen steals the show as the blind hitman Caine. Another old friend of John’s, Caine is drawn into the fray by the devious Marquis Vincent de Gramont who wishes Mr. Wick dead. Not only is Caine a badass fighter and swordsman, but he is also funny to boot. Every scene he’s in has some kind of joke and they always land. This might be the most comical of all the John Wick movies and it’s thanks to Yen’s versatile performance.
This is one of the best action movies released in a long time. The fight choreography is great, the characters are fun and the cinematography is pure eye candy. I give John Wick: Chapter 4 an Excellent 9/10. I can definitively say that John Wick is now Keanu Reeves’ best franchise, easily surpassing The Matrix. This is why you go to the movies! Count me in for any spin-offs or prequels they have coming.