John Wick : Chapter 4

March 24, 202385/1008 min
Starring
Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne
Written by
Shay Hatten and Michael Finch ( written by) Derek Kolstad ( based on characters created by)
Directed by
Chad Stahelski
Run Time
2 hr. 49 min.
Release Date
March 24th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

At this point, almost 10 years after the release of the first John Wick, the now iconic character played by Keanu Reeves has pretty much become a superhero, or a cartoon character depending on who you ask. What with the bullet-proof suit jackets, the assassins only hotels, and the mysterious High Table that controls everything in the world, including hitmen disguised as homeless.

I do find myself at times asking, during the shoot-outs in the last few films including this one, John Wick: Chapter 4, I ask, when I see Wick and others bring their coats up to cover their faces like vampires, to block the bullets, “How do the bullets not hit their hands, or how do none of the buckshot sneak under the flap of the coat and kill them?” Then I am quickly reminded that these are John Wick movies, you don’t go for logic. You go to see John Wick kill muther&%@#$ with a pencil and anything else he can get his hands on.

When we last saw John Wick (Reeves) he was shot and supposedly killed by the Continental manager Winston (Ian McShane), but the High Table knows better and they are on the hunt for Wick and his benefactor the Bowery King (Lawerence Fishburne). But John is not running this time, he is ready to kill his way to the very top of the High Table. Standing in his way is the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård) and his minions led by the always cool Scott Atkins as Killa. John enlists the help of the manager of the Osaka Continental, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama). Waiting for him however is a former colleague forcefully pulled from retirement, Caine (Donnie Yen), and crashing the party, looking for a payday, the Tracker (Shamier Anderson) who all want the same thing, to take John Wick down at any cost. Searching for a different angle to take on the forces against him, Wick globe-trots leaving dead bodies in his wake and pursued by people as deadly as he is in a race to see who will be the last one standing, with a gun in their hand.

First of all, let me just say this is one of the most impressive action movies I have ever seen. Second of all…I don’t even have a ‘second of all’ Mulder, this movie is Most Impressive. Director involved in all 4 films, Chad Stahelski is still bringing the fire and surprisingly an incredible visual style in this latest installment of the John Wick story. And Reeves as Wick has not changed throughout the series, he’s still a man of few words but of many actions. He once again takes out dudes in so many awesome ways, with so many different weapons, in exotic locations, it’s simply incredible.  We get Wick on horseback in the desert shooting at guys “cowboy-style” for, you know ‘reasons’. Wick takes on a High Table S.W.A.T. team with a pistol and nunchuck’s in an art gallery. It’s all crazy-cool!

The action set-pieces are long like all the previous films but what was most surprising is what comes in between the murder and mayhem. With the help of Winston (McShane) John begins to contemplate where all this is meant to lead to. The inherit drama of a man who started with nothing to lose, deeply thinking about his own mortality was surprising. Especially in a series filled with unbelievable things like secret assassin societies, public silencer gun fights (my personal favorite), and dragons breath shotgun blasts. That last one ended up being real as YouTube proved to me.

What else jumped out is the amount of time spent on, in any other move, would be side characters. Both Donnie Yen and Shamier Anderson get several moments throughout the film to develop their characters. Much like Reeves, they bring that fantastic sense of presence and can spin and dance with a gun in that balletic motion that this series has so firmly established. But they still manage to have purpose, honor, and clear goals that propel them forward. Unique in a film so far into the series that you would think would only focus on its central lead, instead has time for other interesting characters.

This ended up being an incredibly reflective yet intense 4th chapter in the John Wick saga. Keanu Reeves and Donnie Yen are hyper-kinetic and have cemented their names as action legends. Plus the final hour has some of the greatest action set pieces of all time. Not sure where the series goes from here, but I look forward to seeing any and all that comes from, this now fully-formed wild’n wacky Wickverse.

 

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