Starring: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Ian McShane
Release dates: March 24, 2023 (United States)
Running time: 169 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $100 million
Box office: $428 million
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 (157K)
I appreciate your patience, Mr. Wick. Chad Stahelski, who directed "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum," and Keanu Reeves, who starred in that picture, have now collaborated on "John Wick: Chapter 4," a movie that was initially scheduled to be released in theatres over two years ago but was delayed for four years. Believe me. The time spent waiting was not wasted. The mythology-heavy approach of the previous couple of chapters is combined with the streamlined action of the first film by Stahelski and the writers' Shay Hatten and Michael Finch, resulting in a closing hour among the best in the genre.
In the first scene of "John Wick: Chapter 4," the title character (played by Reeves) is shown to be on the run once more from the evil Powers That Be, also known as the High Table. The Marquis de Gramont, played by Bill Skarsgard, is the series' primary antagonist. He is the leader of the High Table and continues to increase the bounty on John Wick's head while also cleaning up the messes left behind by other characters. He may even eliminate Winston Scott, played by Ian McShane, and his part in this nefarious organization. In the first few moments of the film, Wick travels to Japan, where he meets the leader of the Osaka Continental, Shimazu (played by Hiroyuki Sanada), and comes into conflict with a blind assassin working for the High Table named Caine (the badass Donnie Yen). Laurence Fishburne appears here and there as John Wick's Q when the assassin requires a new bulletproof outfit. At the same time, Shamier Anderson plays an assassin who appears to be waiting for the price on Wick's head to reach the appropriate level to make his kill and collect his reward. In contrast to the previous couple of films, this one features a plot that feels reassuringly concentrated once more despite the film's epic length (169 minutes). Here's John Wick. This is the group of villains. Go!
They do indeed leave. Stahelski and his team construct action sequences in a way that gives the impression of being both rushed and aesthetically orchestrated simultaneously. Filmmakers that give their gunfights too much thought to tend to end up with a tone that is emotionally distant, devoid of any stakes, and that feels more fashionable than substantive. The best action directors figure out how to capture fight scenes to maintain the suspense without compromising the level of showmanship. The action sequences in "John Wick: Chapter 4" consist of lengthy battles and gun-fu shootouts between John and dozens of individuals who misjudge him. Yet, because these action sequences have so much momentum, they do not outstay their welcome.
In addition to that, the stakes are brilliantly delineated. John and one of his adversaries agree on the terms of a fight at one point in the movie. These terms include the time limit, the weapons, and the variables. Nonetheless, this is true of all of the main action situations, in which we are given a very clear understanding of what John needs to do and who he needs to get past to "complete the level." The straightforward nature of the goals makes room for intricate choreography. We know what needs to happen for John to continue advancing as he has been doing since the beginning of the first movie. The "Wick" films have such great clarity of meaning that they can have fun inside those simple constructions. This contrasts with most modern action, which is overloaded with characters or has unclear goals.
So much fun. This place has the potential to have choreography that is nothing short of amazing. I liked how frequently the world continued around Wick and the poor people he was fighting. Wick has to do battle with a makeup-covered Scott Adkins and his army of unlucky idiots in a packed nightclub, a scene that would be the best in practically any other recent action movie (but is like the third or fourth best here), but Wick has to do it. The dancers hardly seem to be aware. They occasionally move aside to make room for people to pass through but do not stand still and stare. The writing, dancing humans, and the water flowing into the club create a wonderfully exciting backdrop. Later on, in what will go down as one of my all-time favourite action moments, Wick and his pursuers engage in combat in the traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe. The vehicles do not come to a halt. In point of fact, it seems as though they pick up the pace. In this movie, gunshots go off outside, but no one bothers to look out the window to see what is happening. The world apart from Wick and the mythology of this world nearly gives the impression that it cannot perceive the famed assassin and the approximately one hundred victims that he ends up killing. This is a fascinating and aesthetically arresting option.
And then there's something I like to call "Action Geography." So many people have attempted to imitate the frenzied attitude of the "Bourne" movies, and the results have frequently been more confusing than coherent. Along with Stahelski, the excellent cinematographer Dan Laustsen, who frequently collaborates with Guillermo del Toro on projects such as "The Shape of Water," "Nightmare Alley," and others, ensures that the action in this film is always clear and visceral without ever being muddled. The stunt work is incredible, and the fight scenes feel more like ballet choreography than the generic plot-driving typical of most Hollywood movies. When Wick is hard at work, there is a fantastic display of dexterity and inventiveness.
Of course, a fantastic cast helps too. Although Reeves has a more minor speaking role in this film than in any of the others in the series so far, he perfectly sells the character of John Wick and imbues him with an emotional tiredness that contributes to the increased weight of this chapter. The vengeful Wick from the first movie is not the same as the survivor Wick from the third movie, and Reeves is aware of precisely what this character requires to be successful. There are a lot of actors out there who would give a character that is already this popular extra flourishes that aren't essential, but Reeves is astute enough to streamline his performance to fit the movie around him. It also allows a few supporters to shine in different performance registers, especially Yen and Anderson. The renowned Yen is excellent here, not just in combat but the moments in between. Most individuals familiar with Donnie Yen won't be surprised to learn that he is a fantastic fit for this role; nonetheless, he is even better than you anticipate he will be. Anderson also gives a fun performance as a man who seems to be a mercenary waiting for the right price, but fans of the series will notice from the beginning that this badass has a dog, and this universe values puppies and people who love them. Anderson gives a fun performance as a man who seems to be a mercenary waiting for the right price.
The only slight fault in Wick's armour here is a bit of narrative self-indulgence. There are a few scenes, especially early on, when it feels like a beat is going on a bit too long, and I think there's a slightly tighter (if you can say that 150 minutes would be tight) version of this film that's simply perfect. There are a few scenes, especially early on, when it feels like a beat is going on a bit too long.
The fans won't give a damn. There has been a lot of discussion about what motivates people to go to movie theatres in this post-pandemic, streaming-heavy world, and this is the kind of film that calls for an enthusiastic audience to watch it with. It has that infectious energy we love so much in action movies—a whole room full of people wondering at the cleverness and intensity of what is unfolding in front of them. This is the kind of movie that should be seen in a large theatre with lots of people. John Wick has put forth a lot of effort to earn this.