‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ Review

Wherein literally everybody gets shot

Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick in the aptly titled John Wick: Chapter 4, and it is everything we’ve come to expect from director Chad Stahelski’s franchise over the past near-decade. We rejoin Mr. Wick hot on the heels of his last foray, which found him traipsing the globe in search of forgiveness from the shadowy High Table order of assassins after he’d killed someone at the Continental, a neutral ground hotel for assassins wherein so-called “business” is strictly prohibited. Turns out Mr. Wick didn’t quite earn his freedom despite lopping off a finger in deference in the last movie, so the leaders of the High Table dispatch the Marquis (It star Bill Skarsgård) to kill the guy with all of their nefarious resources at his disposal. A hail of bullets and tempest of blades follows.

We must first assign credit to Stahelski, where it is most assuredly due thanks to his fresh take on action films. Throughout the John Wick series, there has rarely been a lull. Bodies pile up in these films through no shortage of creative martial arts, swordplay and gun-fu, but it’s the broader world of assassins that keeps things interesting. We don’t know much about the High Table, nor can we—but therein lies much of the fun. Through storytelling devices, we know Mr. Wick is likely Belarusian, he’s about the best killer ever and he belongs to a clandestine universe of ritual-obsessed sects of killers lurking in plain site. Neat!

Beyond that, all that matters is the onslaught of fight scenes meticulously choreographed like a bloody ballet. The addition of martial arts cinema legend Donnie Yen as former Wick associate Caine only ups the ante. Yen takes part in the long-running canon of blind swordsmen that includes such iconic entries as Zatoichi and Ninja Scroll. In tandem with Wick’s blend of over-the-top insanity...well, let’s just say there’s something satisfying about a blind guy beating everyone’s ass.

Back in the fray are other longtime franchise favorites like Continental manager Winston (Ian McShane) and his concierge, Charon (Lance Reddick, rest in power!), plus Reeves’ Matrix co-alum Laurence Fishburne and, thrillingly, veteran character actor Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption). Together, they represent the various bits and pieces of the otherwise enigmatic Mr. Wick; they, too, are badass. Even so, there’s such a thing as diminishing returns, and the 50th fight starts to overstay its welcome. As for the overhead tracking shot that reads like 2012 video game Hotline Miami? Brilliant. Beautiful.

As Stahelski leaves Wick behind (at least for now) and moves on to his next project, an adaptation of the Ghost of Tsushima video game, fans of the series will find an organic and satisfying conclusion. Turns out homeboy did it all for love, and that’s an OK reason enough to blast fools, right?


+Incredible action; gorgeous, actually; badass

-A little too long

John Wick: Chapter 4

Directed by Stahelski

With Reeves, Skarsgård and Yen

Violet Crown, Regal, R, 169 min.

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