‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ – Review

John Wick: Chapter 4 is an action spectacular that delivers one stunning adrenaline packed sequence after another. A neon-tinged film with breathtaking cinematography, choreography, and an incredible use of shooting on location. Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves deliver one of the best franchise films in years focused on seeking solace rather than revenge. 

Being a fourth installment in a film franchise brings a sense of pressure to deliver something exciting, maintain the integrity of what came before, and keep building momentum for the world that’s been built and John Wick: Chapter 4 does all this and more. Stunt coordinator turned director Chad Stahelski and star/executive producer Keanu Reeves not only up the ante on everything that came before but uphold the themes of each previous installment. The film blends various types of influences from Westerns to Japanese genre action films to some Greek mythology to bring together the best installment in the franchise.

When we last saw John Wick (Reeves) he was shot by the Continental’s manager, Winston (Ian McShane), and we open on him in New York’s underground courtesy of the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) recovering. However, during Wick’s time recuperating, the High Table has not been waiting for his return. His disappearance has given extraordinary power to the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), and he is determined to put down anyone who aided Wick after he went on his brutal rampage over the last three installments. Marquis taps an elite assassin to handle Wick once and for all, Caine (martial arts legend Donnie Yen). As a longtime friend of Wick, he tries to reject the assignment, but Marquis threatens to kill Caine’s daughter as part of his arrangement with the High Table to remain alive. 

Once this hit has been accepted on Wick, we follow Wick to Japan to the Osaka Continental managed by an old friend, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada). Shimazu’s daughter and the hotel concierge, Akira (pop icon Rina Sawayama), fears for the safety of her father and everyone at the hotel once Wick arrives as trouble seems to follow him. One of the best set pieces in the film is the Osaka Continental. The production design (Kevin Kavanaugh) is outstanding while it feels true to Japan and maintains the John Wick aesthetic at the same time. The fight sequences set in Osaka are some of the best on film in years. Not only are they stunningly choreographed but also display the unique energy of each character in their fights. The charisma between the actors in scenes where they battle together, or each other, is palpable. Sawayama truly shines every second she’s on screen; she’s an action star in the making with her electric screen presence and ability to keep up with legends such as Reeves and Sanada. 

After the carnage in Osaka, John heads to New York to see Winston, who advises him there might be a way to put out the heat on him. If he challenges the Marquis to a duel, John can win his freedom and end any and all obligations to the High Table. In order to challenge him to a duel, there are various obstacles Wick must go through. One of these obstacles leads to one of the best action sequences of the film set in a nightclub with rain and unsuspecting partiers dancing around as Wick fights one of the many men after him. The final, ferocious race to reach the duel before sunrise results in some of the most exhilarating thrills on film in years. From a fight sequence in the middle of a traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to an overhead interior fight scene involving a dragon’s breath shotgun, the trek to the final duel is not just a journey for Wick but some of the most impressive action sequences set to film. The final duel itself is a stunning modernization of classic Western cinema and you can feel the influences of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly extensively here from the duel itself to the use of the sound and score (Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard). 

The film is almost three hours long and the plot is quite simple as we follow Wick fight off bad guys as he moves towards the biggest bad in the Wick universe. Despite the longer runtime and simple plot, John Wick: Chapter 4 absolutely earns every second of its runtime. There is no moment wasted in the film and it feels effortlessly streamlined. Stahelski, as a former stunt coordinator, has a sharp eye for building the escalation in the action sequences and choreography as the film goes on. 

John Wick: Chapter 4 is an epic cinematic experience while truly being an emotionally authentic film. Wick is a man with a broken heart just seeking solace, not revenge. The franchise has led to this installment and realization for Wick that he doesn’t seek revenge he seeks peace. The film beautifully combines the (at times absurd) rules of action films with genuine human emotions to deliver an operatic, exhilarating fourth installment in the franchise. 

Grade: A

Oscars Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score

Where to Watch: In Theaters

Kenzie Vanunu
she/her @kenzvanunu
Lives in LA with her husband, daughter and dog. Misses Arclight, loves iced vanilla coffees.
Favorite Director: Darren Aronofsky
Sign: Capricorn

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