Taking into account that this is John Wick here, one would assume that there’d be plenty of guns, knives, martial arts and cool John Wick one-liners. And boy, does John Wick: Chapter 4 deliver thanks to a three-hour runtime and the efforts of the cast and crew.
John Wick is a name, but to many it is more than a name. The character played by Keanu Reeves. The title of a film franchise. The revitalisation of action thrillers. Contribution towards the popularity of long, single choreographed action scenes. To the series’ characters, however, he is Baba Yaga. The Boogyman. The man who killed three man in a bar with a pencil.
Following on from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, John Wick remains at large with the High Table assassin order not far behind. After killing a High Table member at the end of John Wick: Chapter 2, John finds himself on the run. In the film’s premise: his actions have unintended consequences which affect the few remaining friends he has left. In response, he decides to search for a way to put an end to the High Table and earn his freedom.
The film pits John against aristocratic mastermind Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), appointed to the High Table in response to the threat John poses. Manipulative, ambitious and cruel, he strives to attain more power at any cost with John being the only obstacle in his way. He therefore serves as the main antagonist of the film and John’s most dangerous foe yet.
The film brings up a query that has existed for every John Wick film: is he a true-born killer? Is he capable of stopping his quest for revenge? De Gramont believes that he is incapable of it. “This is who you are,” he tells him. “A killer.” This concept is brought up in the film to explore Wick’s character, but remains unaddressed by the film’s conclusion.
Casting and Crew
John Wick isn’t the only one making a comeback. Continental manager Winston Scott (Ian McShane) returns with all his usual wit seeking revenge against the Table. He is joined by Charon (Lance Reddick), the Continental’s concierge. Finally, there is The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), an underground crime boss who supplies John with his guns and his suits. It has been confirmed that a spinoff based of Winston Scott is in development with Colin Woodell portraying the character.
Former stuntman Chad Stahelski once again returns as director, having directed the previous three films in the franchise. He made his directorial debut working with Keanu Reeves on the set of John Wick (2014). The two go further back with the pair first working together during the making of The Matrix franchise, in which Stahelski served as a stunt double. Here, Stahelski’s work shines thanks to a great cast, making use of martial arts icons like Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Hiroyuki Sanada and Marko Zazror. These selections compliment Stahelski’s style of favouring fight scenes with Reeves only having 380 lines despite the film’s 169-minute runtime.
As John continues to fight, he finds himself going up against many enemies sent by De Gramont. Among them is Caine (Donnie Yen), a blind assassin and old friend of John’s. There are rumours of a spinoff based on Yen’s character. There is also Killa, a greedy High Table member who comes equipped with metal teeth and a plus-sized suit. Also joining in is The Tracker (Shamier Anderson), a bounty hunter who goes nowhere without his lethal pet canine. What would this film be without at least one dog?
One of the film’s greatest strengths is the fight scenes. From a hotel in Osaka to a nightclub in Berlin, all are extravagantly long in length, but impressively intricate and complex. The fight scene(s) in Paris is particularly long with John mowing down hoards of hitmen while moving from one iconic location to the next. The Arc de Triomphe. The steps leading to the Sacré-Cœur. They are all there. There is even a scene in which John blasts enemies while being filmed from overhead in a single, uninterrupted shot.
Overall, the movie captures the essence that is typical to a John Wick film. While the dialogue and character development aren’t the movie’s strong suits, it more than makes up for it with gun-blazing, sword-slashing action violence. The fight choreography is simply outstanding with the film delivering some of the best scenes in the franchise. The runtime may make the duration repetitive in some areas, but for the most part holds solid thanks to the efforts of the cast and crew. Finally, it signifies the end of a journey while opening the door for future instalments in the franchise.
See the trailer below:
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