REVIEW: John Wick Chapter 4

Last Updated on March 29, 2023

John Wick: Chapter 4, as you may have guessed, is the fourth instalment in the franchise. If you’re already a fan of the franchise then you won’t be disappointed. Like its predecessors, it stars Keanu Reeves as the eponymous protagonist as he murders his way through what feels like every criminal in the world on his way to his goal. Each sequel has taken the action and the drama to new levels, and this one is no different.

John Wick: Chapter 4 seems to share more with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (what a mouthful) than it does either of the first two; if you thought Parabellum was epic, sprawling and grandiose then strap yourselves in for the ride because it only gets bigger. I imagine the mantra for this film was: ‘why not?’ Should we have a Samurai Duel? Why not? Should we have a horseback battle in the desert? Why not? Pistols at dawn? Why not? A story that travels to Osaka, Berlin, the Sahara Desert, Paris and NYC? Why Not?

The main antagonist in John Wick: Chapter 4 is the Marquis Vincent de Gramont, played by Bill Skarsgård, who represents the authority of the High Table. Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects of Ian McShane, Lance Reddick (RIP), and Laurence Fishburne turn up. However, one of the highlights of the film are the new additions. Playing major roles in the story are Caine (Donnie Yen), a blind ‘retired’ assassin, and the ‘Tracker’ (Shamier Anderson), who is playing his own game (and has a dog, more on that later). In more secondary roles are Hiroyuki Sanada and Rina Sawayama (in her film debut). All are excellent, but Skarsgård takes it for me (some accent quibbles notwithstanding). (I also applaud the costume department for killing it with his suit selection.)

Chad Stahelski returned to direct John Wick: Chapter 4 and he really flexes his muscles when it comes to the action set-pieces. With an eye-opening runtime of 169 minutes, the longest instalment by far, even the biggest action junkie should have their fix by the end. (Is it a coincidence that this is the first film without Derek Kolstad, the original creator, involved in the writing process?) There are some amazing top-down, long take shots in one of the sequences that had me gobsmacked. I’m not sure the action reaches the heights of Parabellum, but it definitely gets close.

For those that get a kick out of the increasingly bizarre mythology that comes out of this franchise, this delivers in spades. Where Parabellum had ‘deconsecrated’ and ‘adjudicators’, John Wick: Chapter 4 has ‘condemned’ and ‘harbingers’. It also introduces the ‘Old Ways’ in a way that is inscrutable and also suggests the ‘New Ways’ are less byzantine and bizarre.

It wouldn’t be a John Wick film without some pro-canine content. For those so inclined, I regret to inform you that John Wick’s pitbull is woefully under-represented in screentime in John Wick: Chapter 4. However, if you liked the badass dogs in Parabellum then I have good news for you. The Tracker (Shamier Anderson) is accompanied by a loyal and terrifyingly dangerous pup. This is pretty much the John Wick of dogs. I’m not joking. Watch the film and then come tell me I’m wrong.

Now, the movie isn’t perfect. It’s a bit light on story (even for John Wick) and long gone is the emotional weight of the original. Is it a tad too long? Perhaps; although, I found the time flew by. Is Keanu more wooden than usual? Maybe. But you don’t watch these movies to see him delivering well-crafted dialogue. You watch them for slick action-sequences and to see John Wick take apart his enemies in increasingly impressive fashion. And it absolutely delivers.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is a great entry in the franchise and I can assure you it is worth seeing in the cinema. Every punch, kick, gunshot, and car crash is better on the big screen with wall-to-wall sound. I was lucky enough to see it with a vocal and enthusiastic crowd. It really added to the experience.

Share this
Tags:
Shannon H

Shannon H

After gallivanting around Europe for several years, Shannon has returned to Sydney, where he works an office job for his sins. He’s a fan of all things SFF, with a preference for cynicism. When he’s not reading, he can be found playing video games, watching movies, visiting a craft brewery, or enjoying a strong flat white. He also blogs infrequently at https://twopintsandapaperback.wordpress.com