I’ll Review Anything: John Wick: Chapter 4 (SPOILER FREE)

As a half-joke, I used to describe the first John Wick movie as a guy who gets revenge on the people who killed his dog. This was when it wasn’t a franchise so it may sound like a absurd plot and it is an oversimplification of the first movie. But, if you really boil it down, it is a succinctly apt description. Boy, have we gone a long way from where the series started, haven’t we?

We are now four films deep in the John Wick movies and it’s gone from being this little revenge movie to a globetrotting adventure bloodfest that’s become a bonified franchise. John Wick: Chapter 4 is the latest and possibly the last one featuring our timid little Baba Yaga killing machine before it starts featuring different characters set in the same bloody universe. If the next few movies can somehow manage to keep up with the pace Chapter 4 has, then I’m all for it.

As with all new releases, this review for John Wick: Chapter 4 is going to be a SPOILER FREE review. So if you’re concerned I’ll be talking about specific plot points from the film, don’t worry. I won’t be talking about anything of the sort.

Some time has passed since the events of John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum. John Wick has fully recovered from the assault on the New York Continental Hotel siege. He then commits a certain act against the assassin organization and this leads the High Table to assign the Marquis de Gramont to lead a manhunt against John Wick as well as his anyone who has helped Baba Yaga in the past. That’s all I’m going to say as this is a SPOILER FREE review but it is startling how involve the plot has become since the simplistic stylings of the first film, right?

Chapter 4 is, believe it or not, probably the best paced film in all of the John Wick movies. Clocking in at a massive 169-minutes, you would think there would be some moments when the film would drag a bit. I was very pleasantly surprised at how fast the time flew while I was watching Chapter 4. The movie manages to suck you in with its atmosphere so you don’t even feel the minutes tick by. Even slow moments, like people just walking down a hallway, are just dripping with style and substance, drawing you into this world of hidden assassins. It’s just so good!

I do have to say a lot of credit has to go to the cinematography as every shot and every scene is framed beautifully. The John Wick movies, especially the later ones, just seem to have this distinct mix of neo noir that just looks so good on the big screen. Every shot looks well planned to capture little nuances, which helps in not only giving the film its atmosphere, but also are expertly crafted to show a lot of non-verbal storytelling. It’s easy to tell what the character is thinking just by watching the way they move or react during certain situations. It’s never spelt out to you but it never needs to do so. That is a testament to Chapter 4’s really good script and writing.

Speaking of which, I also have to commend how well written the characters are and how everyone is acting to convey each and every one’s specific character traits. We all know Keanu Reeves is going to kill it as the titular John Wick and Ian McShane manages to give a lot of weight to his role as Winston as he manages to be very convincing as this conniving and scheming person who always has a plan up his sleeve. I will even say Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King, who I didn’t quite like in the previous entry, was really good as this overconfident leader of the more downtrodden league of assassins this time around.

But while they were great, I cannot exclude the newcomers to the John Wick universe who are introduced here. The biggest standout has to be Donnie Yen as Caine, one of the High Table’s elite killers who just so happens to be blind and a former close friend of John Wick. Sure, he’s a stone cold killer but, thanks to Donnie Yen’s performance, you can tell Caine really want to leave that life behind. It looks like Bill Skarsgard is having a blast playing the film’s main antagonist, the Marquis de Gramont. Although not exactly all that threatening, he does have carry himself with an air of menace and he gets to show off a mean streak now and again.

I would be extremely remiss if I didn’t mention Shamier Anderson as the unassuming Mister Nobody, a sneaky assassin and brilliant tracker who’s clearly in the business to make as much money as he can. The character also fulfills the John Wick movie’s quote to have at least one character who has a dog. And he’s the only one who uses the dog effectively. Kudos also have to go to the smaller bit players like Hiroyuki Sanada as the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel, Shimazu Koji, the late Lance Reddick as Charon, the concierge for the New York Continental Hotel and Clancy Brown as the Harbinger of the High Table.

It does pain me to say that the weakest performances come from Marco Zaror’s Chidi, the Marquis the Gramont’s right hand man and Scott Adkins in a fat suit and a lot of make-up as Killa, another go-to killer of the Marquis the Gramont. They’re not bad performances but the former is a little too one-dimensional and boring and the latter comes off as silly comedic relief at times. Still, it’s not anything terrible and all their action scenes are fantastic. Also, Scott Adkins has to emote and do martial arts while wearing a fat suit, so that couldn’t have been easy. But, by glum, he makes it work! I’m still a huge fan despite the less than spectacular acting chops shown here, Scott Adkins!

Speaking of the action, you know it’s going to be good and, honestly, Chapter 4 outdoes everything done from the previous John Wick movies as well as, well, pretty much many of today’s action movies. This is an action tour de force of adrenaline pumping action and stuntwork. Some sequences even use long takes so you know Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen and even Shamier Anderson had to set aside a lot of time just to get the fight choreography done right so everything does come off as mostly seamlessly. Some of the hits and the falls look extremely painful. Honestly, give these stunt people a raise for putting their body and health on the line just to keep us entertained!

I do have a couple of minor quibbles for Chapter 4. One, it does feel like these were two movies that were smushed into one. With a little reworking done, the entire first act could’ve been stretched out to an entire movie. This does connect to my second issue as they introduce a new concept to the High Table’s rules that acts as a catalyst for a new plot thread. Even John Wick asks if the rule really exists. Yes, it does, John. Because if it didn’t, the movie wouldn’t work. In a lesser movie, I would’ve hated it. In Chapter 4, I didn’t care because my suspension of disbelief levels were off the charts.

I have no qualms recommending everyone to watch John Wick: Chapter 4. I guess if you don’t like bloody action scenes, and there are a lot of them here, you might want to stay away. But for everyone else, you owe it to yourself to go watch this movie as soon as possible. Really. Go watch it.

Have you seen John Wick: Chapter 4? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s