John Wick: Chapter 4 Review
Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski’s journey with the John Wick franchise has been amazing to watch over the last decade. From humble indie beginnings to worldwide phenomenon, the John Wick films have continually raised the bar for big-screen action and reestablished Reeves as a top-tier action hero. Now, with its fourth chapter, the franchise presents an incredibly swift globe-trotting epic full of jaw-dropping thrills.
John Wick: Chapter 4 wastes no time in delving into the fallout of assassin John Wick (Reeves) surviving Winston’s (Ian McShane) betrayal. With the High Table frustrated by everyone’s inability to kill Wick, they task a high-ranking marquis named Vincent (Bill Skarsgard) to end things once and for all. Vincent is absolutely ruthless in his efforts to put a bullet in Wick as he not only destroys everything that Wick has touched or currently touches, but also hires Wick’s former friend Caine (Donnie Yen) to hunt him down. So, once again, Wick is on the run with a bigger target on his head and is forced to face his past and new enemies so that he can finally earn his freedom.
With each film, Stahelski’s action vision evolves in such grand ways that it seems like he’ll never surpass the high bar he sets. Yet here we are. Chapter 4 is the pinnacle of blockbuster action with the immense creativity and sheer badassery on display from start to finish. The way Stahelski confidently helms the jam-packed living environments and mixes in incredible fight choreography is just masterful and will leave audiences breathless. Whether Wick finds himself fighting in French streets with heavy traffic or in a busy nightclub, the action absolutely stunning and made even better visually through Dan Laustsen cinematography.
Stahelski’s filmmaking really reaches new heights with Chapter 4 and there are some sequences that are truly mind-blowing because of their large-scale feel. There’s this epic climb towards freedom in the film’s finale filled with long-takes and immersive moments that make it an instant classic that’ll be seen in the same leagues as the hallway fight in Oldboy. There’s an amazing top-down sequence that acts as an ode to action video games like Hotline Miami and Hong Kong Massacre that everyone will adore. Plus, with all the different characters the film introduces, there’s a lot of style variety in the action that keeps it refreshing.
Wick’s fast-shooting and unbelievable ability to adapt still make him the deadliest assassin out there, but he definitely faces his stiffest competition yet. While Caine’s inability to see would make him seem like no match for other assassins, he’s more than capable of beating the best – including Wick. His use of sound to help him in battle is awesome to see in action as he throws doorbell traps around to alert himself to movement and his sharp reflexes make him nearly impossible to strike. Plus, the hidden sword in his cane can make him very deadly. But there’s much more to Caine than being awesome in the film’s action sequences that makes him one of the best additions to this franchise.
Yen constantly boasts charm as Caine making him both incredibly humorous and daunting towards Wick. Like Wick, Caine is also brought back into this deadly world for personal stakes and is seeking his own kind of freedom. These similarities are what make Wick and Caine reuniting like this so compelling to watch and the way the film handles their intertwined arcs is perfect. By the time they have a final duel together, there’s so much emotion and stakes built into it to make it feel fittingly grand and meaningful.
The same can be said about another interesting assassin that’s brought into the mix named Tracker/Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson). Like Wick, Tracker has an affinity for his dog sidekick who can be absolutely vicious in battle, and there’s this calculated nature to his fighting that makes him joining the fray super exciting. His greater sense of patience and planning excellently fits his own individual motives for hunting Wick and the way he’s also intertwined into the main story thread of Vincent wanting to kill Wick is great. Frankly, Chapter 4’s storytelling is on a whole new level as it utilizes its entire cast incredibly well to elevate Wick’s central thread. They all play their own role and really help add more stakes, similarities, and perspectives to Wick fighting for his freedom. Everyone has their own aim in this film and their personal arcs often subvert expectations and add new layers to Wick’s conquest. Tracker’s thread especially subverts expectations at times and Anderson’s performance is just a delight.
Along with delivering superb action and using its supporting cast well, Chapter 4 also gives fans a thrilling and deeply emotional chapter in Wick’s story. There’s something really fascinating about seeing the ripples of Wick still being alive and the impact it has on Winston and The Continental. The High Table certainly doesn’t seem like it’s playing around anymore and Vincent’s decisions to destroy anything that could help Wick instantly raise the stakes. Wick is truly put into a corner here but watching him get out of it has some fulfilling moments that see him confront his past choices. Chapter 4 is really a full-circle experience for Wick and it’s not only what makes it a satisfying experience for longtime fans of the franchise, but also a deeply emotional end to Wick’s personal arc.
Reeves is unsurprisingly the same kind of brutal force he’s been as Wick from the start, but here there’s much more emotion and sentiment to his performance. With Wick being so close to earning his way out of this deadly world, Reeves helps bring out Wick’s emotions as he thinks back on his life and everything up to this point. Even though Wick is a deadly assassin whose hands are coated in blood, Reeves helps remind viewers of Wick’s humanity and the entire last act of this film is undeniably flawless. It features the kind of high-level, ambitious action that should solidify Stahelski as a titan of the genre. It has palpable suspense and storytelling wit that makes Wick’s final duel epic and thrilling. Plus, it has some of the most beautifully personal story moments that let Wick’s humanity shine brightly and the way the film pays off an earlier line of Wick talking about how he wants to be remembered is immaculate.
If Chapter 4 is really the end of this era for Reeves, Stahelski, and John Wick, then it went out on the highest note possible. There’s literally no compliment high enough to talk about how Chapter 4 accomplishes the feats that it does in action, storytelling, and character arcs. It’s undoubtedly one of the best action films of all time and delivers such grand scales of thrills, humor, and heart that it should easily be seen as one of the year’s best films.
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