Review: John Wick: Chapter 4
By now, you are either fully into the John Wick universe or you are not. John Wick: Chapter 4 does little to welcome newbies but for fans, it is a feast of fighting. This fourth entry is stacked with stunning action set pieces, new baddies for John to kill, and a satisfying conclusion to the central story.
If you happen to be new to John Wick, it all started with the killing of a puppy that pulled retired hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) out of retirement to seek revenge. For three films now, he has gone up against hoards of assassins. The lore deepens with each film revealing a hierarchy that leads to the High Table. There are rules of conduct in this world and John has broken a few along the way.
Wick has become their primary target and if he were any other assassin, the High Table would have killed him by now. They know and John knows he is the only one that can change the way the High Table. That is what he sets out to do in Chapter 4. His main target this time is the merciless Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard). The Marquis begins killing off those that have helped John in the past. He keeps upping the bounty on John.
When this doesn't work, John's old friend Caine (Donnie Yen) comes out of retirement to track and kill John. Caine is held hostage by the Marquis who threatens to kill his daughter. Caine is blind and seeing Yen fight in this manner is absolutely amazing. Many other of John's friends come out to help him along the way. There is a new character introduced whose motives are unclear. Tracker (Shamier Anderson) lives up to his name and along with his dog, he seems to be able to find John anywhere.
After some of this basic setup and the introduction of these new characters, John Wick: Chapter Four gets busy with some of the most intricately staged action in years. Director Chad Stahelski knows what the audience is there for. He attempts and succeeds in raising the bar for the action genre. The John Wick series is full of memorable action sequences but Chapter 4 really does take things to a new level.
As always, the action is shot clearly, with wide framing that lets you see the fight choreography clearly. Everything is so well timed here from the camera movements to the sets to the actors fighting. There is a sequence in front of the Arc De Triomphe that is mind-boggling and will have you thinking, "How in the world did they do that?" And that isn't even the best action scene in the film. There is a refreshing lack of obvious CGI here. Reeves does the majority of his own stunts. The result is the fights always feel real and dangerous. Few film series can top the John Wick series in these areas.
At the center of these films is Reeves. He gives his all here, clearly putting his body through hell. The results are worth it and everyone involved in the film should be proud. Yes, there are a few issues with this chapter. The story sometimes drags and some favorite characters are sidelined. However, these are minor quibbles that don't detract from the action tour-de-force that John Wick: Chapter 4 is.