TL;DR – In many respects, this is the best John Wick film so far, or at least it would be if the action scenes were a touch more restrained in their length
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film
John Wick: Chapter 4 Review –
If there has been one series that has captured my attention in the last decade, it is the Jon Wick films. John Wick: Chapter 1 was an explosive surprise that shifted what action films could do in the modern era. John Wick: Chapter 2 took the world and expanded it in every way. While John Wick: Chapter 3 pumped everything up to eleven. Could they keep ramping up each time? Well, let’s see.
So to set the scene, after Winston Scott (Ian McShane) betrays John Wick (Keanu Reeves), shoots him in the chest and throws him off the Continental’s roof, it looks like the end for John. Well, until he is found by the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), who is very happy helping John with his revenge mission. But revenge often comes with its own retribution, and The Table strikes back hard and without mercy. Because, as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold or via dog attack. It is one of them.
Before diving into the action part of this film, which might be the most action, action film I have seen in a long while, I did want to explore the general production, starting with the casting. I was honestly surprised by how few characters from the previous films appear this time. In some aspects, this narrows the world, but more importantly, it opens space for glory. You can’t help but feel that power when Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada walk onto the stage. They ground every moment so you can feel their presence, even if they are just sitting there having some soup. You also feel their absence when they are gone.
I did like that even though Donnie Yen is playing, on the surface, a similar character as Rogue One. He is still making it a completely different interpretation with the same energy. I also liked the addition of Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson), a tracker helping John just because he wants to see the bounty get high enough to make it worthwhile. An ally that will turn at any moment, but everyone knows what is happening. Also, Scott Adkins and Bill Skarsgård were chewing all the scenery, which was a delight.
Then we have a presentation, which is another highlight of the film. You can’t help but get brought into the world of crisp suits immaculately tailored to each person. It makes every moment feel classy, even when they are holding up their jackets as a shield. This is the world that Keanu Reeves is playing in, and you have to say he is so good at it. You also get a play on light with the neon views of Osaka to the more demure sunrises of Paris. These little extra bits help make the film pop in every moment, especially in action.
On that point, let us proceed to the action, which is the film’s best and worst quality. When you have the 87Eleven Productions team and Chad Stahelski at the helm, you know there will be some quality incoming, and I have to say that we are four films in, and they are still finding ways to surprise me. An excellent example of this was the Kyūdō bows which have you thinking, ‘what good will they be?’ and the answer was ‘perfect when you are near a wall’. I also liked how they tried to keep things fresh by mixing the action up, for example, moving from run-and-gun to car duelling to overhead oners.
But, and I am sorry, it is a big but, every action scene goes on for too long, sometimes maybe even 30% too long. The problem is that this universe has set up that anyone wearing a suit can’t be shot, so we get the same action sequence over and over again because there are only so many different ways someone can take down someone else in full armour. This is escalated because most fights are between a main character and an underling, so there is no tension. No no-name rando will ever take down one of the main cast. I bring this up because there were times, especially in the third act when I was just exhausted from the action. At that point, setbacks started feeling detrimental to the whole film rather than a reversal in the scene.
In the end, do we recommend John Wick: Chapter 4? Well, it is not without its issues. However, I would still recommend it because no one is doing action like this as well as we get here. I am also glad that we might be branching out and exploring more of this world as they look to build a new cinematic universe. If you liked John Wick: Chapter 4, I would recommend Nobody or, of course one of the other Wicks.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of John Wick: Chapter 4
Directed by – Chad Stahelski
Screenplay by – Shay Hatten & Michael Finch
Based on – Characters by Derek Kolstad
Music by – Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
Cinematography by – Dan Laustsen
Edited by – Nathan Orloff
Production/Distribution Companies – Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Films, 87Eleven Productions, Lionsgate & StudioCanal
Starring – Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Bill Skarsgård, Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins & Clancy Brown with Natalia Tena, Marko Zaror, George Georgiou, Sven Marquardt, Aimée Kwan & Marie Pierra Kakoma
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 18; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R