John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
Clocking in at nearly 3 hours long, I can’t say I was massively excited for the latest in the ‘John Wick’ franchise, which I’d found to range from great (‘John Wick’) to poor (‘John Wick: Chapter 2’) then better again (‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’), but well I’ll be damned, this is absolutely top stuff and the best since the first movie. It is literally an action epic, not just because of its runtime, but because of its wider scope that seems to bring all the best parts of these movies together into one larger movie that feels like a culmination of all that has came before. It has some of the finest action sequences committed to celluloid, coupled with a revenge narrative that carries more weight because of what has gone before, and I was very entertained for yes, that long runtime.
At the end of the third film, John Wick was left for ‘dead’, providing him with a cover to plan his revenge against the High Table and those who have wronged him over the course of the past three movies (and that’s a lot of people!). As he begins his quest for vengeance, a high ranking member of the High Table, the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), is planning his own mission to kill Wick, beginning his attempts by destroying the New York Continental, declaring its manager Winston (Ian McShane) excommunicado and hiring a retired, blind assassin (Donnie Yen) to assassinate his old friend. This leads to a cat and mouse chase between Wick and those out to kill him, taking the action across the world from Osaka in Japan, to Berlin in Germany and most notably Paris in France for a stunning finale.
It is hard to put into words just how spectacular the action sequences are here, choreographed to perfection and performed brilliantly by Reeves and the many actors and stuntmen who try to take him down. There are many highlights but I particularly loved the brutal one on one fight in a Berlin nightclub between Wick and Killa (Scott Adkins in a fatsuit) that is as much about dance as it is about the brutal violence, and then of course there’s everything that takes place in Paris. Set to some well chosen tunes and the silky smooth voice of the ‘presenter’ of a secret assassins radio station, Wick has to survive the night and make it to the top of the Sacre Couer before sunrise – with his attempts taking in motorcycle chases, a seemingly neverending battle at the Arc de Triomphe amidst the crazy traffic, to an epic attempt to make it up the lengthy staircase to the Sacre Couer before his time runs out. Oh, and a brilliantly shot sequence in a crumbling building with much of the action shot from overhead – simply put, it’s incredibly cool.
This is cinema with everything and the kitchen sink thrown at the screen, and incredibly it works. The two biggest appeals of the ‘John Wick’ series have been the impressively choreographed fight sequences and the quirky world that the filmmakers have built, and both dovetail perfectly here in ‘Chapter 4’. Reeves, for his part, is very well suited to the role, and I enjoyed pretty much all of the supporting cast whether it be Ian McShane delivering his dialogue with relish to the many action stars taking on Wick, including Donnie Yen and Scott Adkins (and of course Lance Reddick, RIP). I don’t think anyone expected the ‘John Wick’ movies to be as good or as successful as they have been, and in ‘Chapter 4’, it has certainly done that franchise thing of going bigger, but in this case bigger may just be better as well.
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Natalia Tena, Marko Zaror and Clancy Brown