‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ succeeds in a flooded market


Keanu Reeves, star of “John Wick Chapter 4” at the Los Angeles premiere of the film. Reeves returns in the titular role for a film that is surprisingly great.

By Daniel Massa, Lifestyle Writer

Editor’s Note: The following piece contains spoilers for “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which is currently in theaters.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is the ultimate personification of the action genre in Hollywood amidst an oversaturated sea of superhero movies. 

The film is the fourth entry in the “John Wick” series directed by Chad Stahelski, which stars Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen and Bill Skarsgård.

As a series, “John Wick” is one that finds itself as one of the few that get better with each entry. Most franchises usually tank in their second or third entry, but it seems that Lionsgate’s golden goose seems to be the exception as its fourth entry is easily the best in the series. 

The film continues the story of the seemingly unstoppable John Wick (Reeves) as he continues his fight against a criminal organization called the High Table. 

After the New York Continental Hotel is destroyed by High Table member Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Skarsgård), John is enlisted by the hotel’s manager, Winston Scott (Ian McShane), to challenge Marquis to a duel. Should John prevail, he’ll be free of his obligation to the High Table, with his failure resulting in his own death.

John embarks on a global voyage to seek out the criminal underworld’s biggest players to challenge Marquis in the hopes of being a free man, all while the bounty on his head continues to increase. Marquis has ulterior motives, however, hiring several hitmen to track down and kill John including a tracker, nicknamed “Mr. Nobody” (Shamier Anderson), and a blind assassin and former friend of John, Caine (Yen).

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is essentially the finest hour for the title character. We watch as he continues to fight his way through thousands of assassins, but it’s clear that his age and mental instability are finally catching up to him. Reeves is closing in on sixty years of age and it seems that he knows that he isn’t gonna be John Wick forever. Because of this, it feels like they applied Reeves’ age to John’s overall state of mind in this movie. 

At this point in the franchise, the character of John is tired, mentally and physically. While he’s still agile enough to grapple and takedown goons, he still isn’t safe from taking plenty of hard hits. John finds himself evenly matched with many of the goons out for his head, rocking ballistic suits and an arsenal of weapons. 

This is most present in two major action scenes, the High Table’s attack on the Osaka Continental and John’s voyage to the Sacré-Cœur in Paris before sunrise. Both sequences show John barreling through numerous High Table goons and assassins that usually end with him struggling to walk straight. 

“Chapter 4” easily has the best action scenes in the series. The Osaka Continental and the Paris ambush of the climax feature wonderful cinematography. The Paris ambush has an amazing long take of John and Mr. Nobody fighting High Table assassins in a building from an overhead view. It was such an amazing shot that reminded me a lot of the game “Hotline Miami,” a shooter game that is displayed from top-down perspective and is as equally brutal as the “John Wick” franchise.

The Osaka Continental sequence has another long take of John fighting assassins using a combination of nunchucks and pistols in a neon-lit museum room. Caine himself gets a creative fight sequence using planted motion-sensing doorbells to ambush the hotel’s guards.

While the “John Wick” movies have never been reliant on their plot and characters, I have to bring attention to the film’s main antagonist. 

While Skarsgård is great in this film and alongside Yen gives the best performance, the character he plays isn’t all that interesting. He’s a master benefactor but doesn’t do anything for most of the film. The most he contributes to the plot himself is having Caine fight for him when John challenges him to a duel and then stepping in when John is seemingly at death’s door in the duel.

Sure, he has the New York Continental destroyed and kills Winston’s concierge, played by the late Lance Reddick, but he could’ve easily paid anyone to do that like with Caine when the Table infiltrates the Osaka Continental. In short, I just wish he was more active with his plan to kill John rather than kicking back and watching ballet in his mansion.

Another issue was Reeves’s stale delivery of lines. John Wick is meant to be a stone-cold hitman, but there were plenty of lines that Reeves delivered that could’ve easily benefited from a second or third take. I don’t know how he could make the way John says “pistols” sound like a kid doing a Kurt Russell impression, but he found a way. Still, Reeves is great as the character and much of it can be glossed over. 

Despite those minor flubs, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is not only one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year but maybe the best action film I’ve seen in the past five years. In the seemingly oversaturated market of repetitive and unnecessary sequels, reboots and big superhero movies, “John Wick” has proven time and time again that there’s always a golden nugget in modern Hollywood’s coal mine.