So I actually saw this a little over a week ago, but I wanted to give it some time to marinate before I talked about it. You wouldn’t think an action movie would require one to think, but this one had my mind in a whirl. But now I’m ready to ramble about the latest entry in this franchise.
Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “John Wick: Chapter 4”.
Continuing in his globetrotting defiance against the enigmatic High Table, world’s greatest headshotter John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds himself in his most difficult quest yet, as he has to face off with powerful foes both new and old around every corner, all hindering his journey to try and be free of the assassin life. Cue then the shootouts, fisticuffs, sword fights, and existential musings on the futility of their lifestyle, the consequences of John’s actions, and the longing for something else beyond the carnage. For as much as the action tends to be the focus of these movies, I found myself caught off guard by and also adoring the more quiet moments, letting the characters breathe, adding this somber and surprisingly beautiful tragic drama to proceedings. Of course it’s not necessarily the most profound drama out there, but there’s a depth here that we haven’t really seen from this series before, and it makes this story hit a bit more, especially as certain narrative escalations occur throughout. It gives things weight, it made me care about everything in a way that I haven’t really felt since the first movie. It makes the bombastic shenanigans feel like they have action heft and stakes. ’tis a great god damn story.
One thing these films have always been good at is giving us colorful characters that really feel lived in and like they have an actual presence in this world, and “Chapter 4” is no different, and even does a great job of making them way more interesting than before. Again, they’re not necessarily THE deepest out there, but there is an amount of depth here that makes them stick out way more. Keanu Reeves returns as John Wick, assassin extraordinaire, a man fighting the current of destiny, wanting an out from the violence. He’s always been a compelling protagonist and here he continues to really be a good character, with Keanu giving a good performance. The next one I want to talk about is Caine, an old acquaintance of John’s. He’s a skilled fighter, swordsman, gunman, and a loving father. He’s been reluctantly drawn into this fight and they use this for a good dramatic arc. Caine’s played by Donnie Yen, who is absolutely fantastic in the role. From the physicality to the drama to the comedy, Yen is electrifying. And then finally we have the man in charge of the villainy, Marquis, played by Bill Skarsgård. An arrogant, slimy cunt of a man. He’s such a bastard and I think he works well for the movie, with Skarsgård giving a delightfully punch-worthy performance. We also get supporting work from people new and old, such as Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Shamier Anderson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Lance Reddick (R.I.P.), Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins (who is fun as hell in this), Clancy Brown, and many more, all delivering really solid work.
As with the first three movies, the score here was composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, and once again it is fucking spectacular. A kinetic, operatic cacophony of strings, distorted guitars, acoustics, synths and percussion, creating a symphony of carnage that drives the action marvelously. But it also knows when to go more quiet, leading to some emotionally resonant bits. But we also see DJ Le Castle Vania returning to create some thumping club tracks and they rule. Hell, I’ve had “Blood Code” on fairly frequent rotation since seeing the movie. Then there are a few licensed songs used throughout and they work very well too. This movie just has one hell of a fantastic soundtrack.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” was, as with the previous ones, directed by Chad Stahelski who just continues to kill it, developing his stylish style of stylishness even further here. Wide, stunningly blocked shots of guns firing, punches hitting, and dudes dropping, with kinetic movements from actors, stunt team, and camera alike. Combine it with Dan Laustsen’s breathtaking cinematography and you get one of, if not the best looking action movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on. But it’s not just eye candy for eye candy’s sake, every shot feels deliberate in telling story both immediate and in the background. It’s just crafted in a way that is awe-inspiring to see. And I can’t speak enough of how amazing the action scenes are. They’re brutal, kinetic, slick, mesmerizing, a little unhinged, and creative as hell. There was a part of me that was a little worried that maybe they were running out of tricks after the third one… but holy god damn mother of mercy, am I glad to have been proven wrong. It’s ludicrously good.
This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.3/10 and is ranked #155 on the “Top 250 Films” list.
The more I think about it, the more I absolutely adore “John Wick: Chapter 4”. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
My review of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is now completed.
Not often does a nearly three hour movie fly by this fast.