The ever-explosive John Wick: Chapter 4 marks the fourth (appropriately named) instalment in the beloved action film franchise. With their finger on the trigger, Lionsgate is looking to keep the killstreak going, and are aiming for another solid win.
This time our titular character – John Wick (Keanu Reeves) embarks on a treacherous journey to unveil a pathway towards vanquishing his nemesis, The High Table. However, in order to attain his much-coveted freedom, Wick must confront an entirely new adversary – Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), who has formidable connections spanning across the entire globe. With these forces arrayed against him, John Wick must summon all his cunning, strength, and resilience to emerge victorious against the odds and secure his long-awaited liberation.
It’s safe to say that John Wick: Chapter 4 is a masterclass in action film making. The director of this franchise – Chad Stahelski has evolved so much as a director and his talent is on full display here. Stahelski manages to balance each one of these aspects into a sleek, sexy, violent symphony that doesn’t slow down. Stahelski is cementing himself as a tour de force of action directing, and so far John Wick: Chapter 4 is his magnum opus. The gun, blade, and hand-to-hand fighting never gets stale, and taking the film on a global adventure – across New York, Berlin and Paris – is a great way of keeping the film visually interesting. A special mention to the tremendous work that is done by all the stunt performers who throw everything into this film, as these talented individuals are what make these films so successful. If the Oscars had a category for stunt performing, this team would take home the gold.
Another improved element of this film is thankfully the storytelling. It is much better executed and engaging in this chapter than in previous Wick entries. Penning the script this time is returning screenwriter Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) and newcomer Michael Finch (American Assassin). Look I’m not saying this is Oscar winning writing, but the story isn’t just an afterthought to the action, and its flawless pacing kept me hooked for the film’s 169 minute runtime.
The star studded international cast are all excellent. Veterans of the franchise Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King), Ian McShane (Winston) and Lance Reddick (Charon) can play these parts with their eyes closed at this point, and do so effortlessly. Most of the new additions to this franchise are exceptionally good; with the stand outs being Donnie Yen (Caine) and Scott Adkins (Killa). Yen elevates this film – with his character’s charm and fighting style making for more dynamic action scenes, and some well-timed humour which never feels forced. The relationship Caine and Wick have on screen was a joy to watch, and made their scenes some of my favourites. Scott Adkins’ Killa is a bit of a wildcard, he will either delight or infuriate fans of the more serious tone in the John Wick films. For me this worked, his over-the-top performance and copious amounts of body prosthetics to portray a 300+ pound German mob boss contrasted nicely with the sleeker, grittier Wick. The German nightclub scene he’s featured in had the audience I sat with laughing hysterically, and for the right reasons.
Though there were many elements I enjoyed about John Wick: Chapter 4, there were still a few let downs. The antagonist Marquis was a mixed bag; Skarsgård’s French accent was spotty, and he ultimately came across as a knock-off Bond villain. This was especially more noticeable when other new cast members had integrated in so much better. Unfortunately, this is a similar case for Shamier Anderson’s Mr. Nobody. Though Anderson does nothing wrong, his character feels unnecessary, and only makes brief appearances throughout the movie. I ultimately never really connected with his character and felt he didn’t add to the overall story.
With that being said, John Wick: Chapter 4 is still a must-see event film. Everyone behind the camera is bringing their A-game, and in doing so, solidifying this franchise as a powerhouse of martial arts action. This film builds off of what worked so well in previous instalments and improves on what didn’t, managing to easily (in my opinion) take top spot as the best in the John Wick franchise.