The theft of John Wick’s car and the murder of his recently gifted beagle by a group of Russian thugs initiated a blood-soaked saga of epic proportions. The ensuing Wick-inverse is a labyrinthine journey through violence and vengeance, spun out in a series of chapters that will leave you breathless. Starting out as a simple yet enjoyable action movie in Keanu Reeves’ vast repertoire almost a decade ago, it has since evolved into a complex universe featuring High Tables, gold medallions, and international assassin hotels. This franchise has surprisingly given Reeves, who is now 58 years old, a second lease on his acting career outside The Matrix, or a third if we count the three-decade gap between the Bill and Ted films. Once again, “Something Wick-ed” comes our way in the review of John Wick Chapter 4.
Once again, “Something Wick-ed” comes our way in the review of John Wick Chapter 4
John Wick Chapter 4 hits theaters on March 24, and it’s clear that the filmmakers aren’t ready to let go of their successful formula. At 169 minutes, it’s the longest installment in the series, but it doesn’t let up on the intensity. The film is a wild ride that takes the concept of an action-packed, globe-trotting adventure to an absurd, yet entertaining level.
At the start of Chapter 4, Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is still an outcast, excommunicated for his actions in the previous film. He’s been branded a criminal for his unauthorized assassination of a High Table kingpin and left to die after being thrown from a rooftop. But as is the norm in the Wick-iverse, new villains
Emerge or old ones return. This time, we’re introduced to the Marquis de Gramont, played by Bill Skarsgård, a flamboyant French aristocrat with a penchant for luxurious silk and velvet suits. Gramont spends his days wandering through his grand chateaux, plotting his next move with a mysterious and enigmatic agenda. The chaos he intends to unleash is anyone’s guess.
The Marquis de Gramont has once again marked John Wick for death, and a bounty has been placed on his head, attracting numerous contract killers eager to claim it. Despite this, some allies remain loyal to Wick, including the unflappable blind assassin Caine, his hotel manager Winston, and the deposed High Table boss, the Bowery King. Following a bloody escapade in the Middle East, John Wick seeks refuge in Tokyo at the hotel of an old acquaintance, Shimazu, played by Hiroyuki Sanada. Shimazu generously offers protection and his most skilled assassins to help Wick, but his daughter Akira, portrayed by pop star Rina Sawayama, is hesitant and fears that having Wick around will only lead to death and destruction.
As John Wick wreaks havoc across multiple countries, director Chad Stahelski delivers the series’ trademark creativity in its fight scenes, featuring high body counts and exotic locales. With a history of setting high standards, from brutal bathhouse scenes to horse kung-fu, Stahelski’s creativity has been unleashed in Chapter 4, resulting in a visual feast of stunning set pieces. Chapter 4 of John Wick boasts grand set pieces, including a meticulously kept Japanese garden and a towering industrial nightclub in Berlin. The Arc de Triomphe provides the backdrop for a high-octane battle amid zooming vehicles, while a Parisian staircase becomes a deadly obstacle course. The inclusion of incidental slapstick humor adds to the film’s charm, whether it was intentional or not.
The non-stop action is both breathtaking and exhausting, a frenetic carnival of violence and visual stimulation that never pauses for something as mundane as a meal or rest. (In fact, Wick never seems to eat or sleep on-screen, suggesting that vengeance alone sustains him.) While he may form a bond with a new canine companion, a spirited German shepherd, John remains a widower consumed by the memory of his beloved late wife. Romance is not on his agenda.
Despite lacking a coherent storyline, John Wick: Chapter 4 manages to captivate the audience for nearly three hours. Reeves, whose calm and collected demeanor exudes an innate sense of kindness, seems like an unlikely choice for an action hero. Yet, he thrives in his role as Wick, who kills out of necessity rather than sadism. Even in moments of brutality, there’s a tenderness to his interactions with his co-stars, especially Yen, that adds to his character’s complexity.
John Wick is a man of few words, and when he does speak, his voice rumbles out slowly, like a gruff bear waking up from hibernation. (“I will. Take them. All out.”) The audience in a crowded theater burst out laughing at his over-the-top delivery, but they also cheered every time he survived a seemingly impossible injury and rose again, like an unstoppable force of nature. Keanu Reeves has an undeniable charm that makes you want to cheer for him, whether he’s playing a hitman, a detective, or a hacker saviour. With the resolution of the fourth movie’s conflicts and the possibility of a spin-off, the future of the franchise is uncertain. While John Wick could potentially become more than just one character, it wouldn’t be the same without Reeves. The movie earns a B grade.