Rules and Consequences
The John Wick franchise has become one of the most popular action franchises of our generation and it isn’t hard to see why. What started initially as a revenge tale of a man avenging the memory of his wife, has now opened the Pandora’s box of opportunity with a deep mythos, intricate details, and a back table of assassins to build out this world. From a story and lore standpoint this works dramatically in the franchise’s favor. But its the action sequences and Keanu Reaves committed performance that has kept audiences coming back and making it as successful as it is. John Wick Chapter 4 fires on all of these cylinders, in fact, it blasts on all of these cylinders. This film has everything people have loved and more, providing a film that is equal parts intriguing, thrilling, adrenaline firing, and awe-inspiring. It is the longest John Wick film, it is the most over-the-top John Wick, but most importantly it is THE BEST John Wick film.
Chapter 4 takes place shortly after the events of Parabellum with John Wick continuing to be excommunicated from the High Table of assassins who have placed a bounty on his head for breaking the rules of the system. This time the High Table has sent Marquis Vincent de Gramont, a powerful member of the High Table whose position is challenged by John Wick to eliminate Wick once and for all. Now John must fight back and take down the High Table to earn back his freedom, whatever the cost.
Keanu Reaves commands the screen in a committed performance as John Wick that stands out as his most iconic role to date, yes period. The character of John Wick is perfectly Keanu, who speaks in few words and yet sells each word that gets you excited and energized for what comes next. It also is bolstered by Keanu performing almost all of his stunts and is committed to ensuring that the action is as realistic as it can be. The fact that he stands in the action elevates every scene to a new height, imbuing it with a sense of vulnerability and grit that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is my firm belief that no other actor could have played this character and I am glad that he remains so invested four films in.
The supporting cast is also the best it has ever been with returners like Lance Reddick’s Charon, Ian McShane’s Winston, and Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King. but also newcomers that elevate the cast. There is Donnie Yen’s Caine, an assassin with a friendship history with John that has been tasked to kill him. Yen’s charisma and physicality add a new dimension to cast and action that make it quite exciting when he’s on screen. He also serves as a characteristically parallel antagonist to Wick in terms of the following orders to protect those he loves. Seeing them together is quite a treat. Then there is Shamier Anderson’s The Tracker who’s also tasked by the High Table to go after John. His motivations are a little more black and white, wanting the highest amount of money for the task he is carrying out and waiting until the right moment to strike. This motivational dichotomy provides an extra layer of fun and excitement when the film wants to throw a wild card into the mix and shake things up. When these three are all involved in the action, the film is truly breathtaking.
That’s not to say the other parts of the film are as equally mesmerizing and enjoyable, because my goodness every single action sequence in this film is a sight, a marvel, and a triumph to behold. Chad Stehelski expert direction of these action sequences make it singe handedly the best action film of the decade. Opting to use long wide takes, keeping the action in frame, limiting any unnecessary cuts and angles, and promoting real time stunts makes it all the more engaging and thrilling to watch. Each of the five major set pieces in the film add something new and fresh to the franchise. It is to Stehelski’s credit that even though he is four films deep into this series, none of the action scenes feel duplicative, unnecessary, or recycled. He is always finding new ways for John Wick to take out assassins and bad guys, be it with close hand to hand pistol fights with guys wearing full body armor to force John to change his approach, or a breathtaking showdown in the streets of Paris using dodging traffic and using moving cars as a weapon, or even a tense fight going up a flight of stairs, there is nothing this movie didn’t amaze me with. If you are big action fan, this is the movie for you.
It is also the film’s credit that it paces itself extremely well between story beats and action set pieces to compile its almost 3 hour time. The film never feels as long as it states, as the characters are moved briskly through gorgeous scenery towards the next action set piece, given room for a breather, and then jumping right back in with novel techniques. While many have felt movies are getting too long these days, John Wick Chapter 4 is just long enough and I might even argue that I could have gone for another action scene or two, yes I loved it that much.
There are absolutely no flaws in John Wick Chapter 4. This film is a perfect action movie and cements itself as an action movie powerhouse that will be revolutionized, memorialized, and remembered for generations to come. You know exactly what you’re getting with these films, and if you have loved John Wick then this is right up your alley. If you haven’t seen John Wick before, go see this movie, there is enough there for you to pick up on the basic beats and enjoy yourself. Movies like this need to be supported, this is what action cinema needs to be, and this is what it feels like to witness a stunning action masterpiece! Go see it on the biggest screen possible and with the best sound quality ever. I cannot recommend this movie more highly! Easily the best action movie since Mission Impossible: Fallout in 2018.