John Wick: Chapter 4 Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
The Baba Yaga is back & he is more vicious than ever. In search of new alliances, he traverses the globe, seeking vengeance against those who wronged him!
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Bill Skarsgård, Ian McShane, Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Clancy Brown & Lance Reddick.
Run Time: 169 min.
US Release: 24 March 2023
UK Release: 24 March 2023
German Release: 23 March 2023
It has finally arrived! The much-awaited fourth chapter in the title character’s film series has had its worldwide theatrical release! Four years after Parabellum, we are treated to the epic conclusion of John’s fight against The High Table. Hopes were high for this to be another action masterpiece, with the first reviews praising this to be the best instalment of the series. Having seen it now myself, I need to say that, while I think this has an edge over the second and third flick, it still suffers very much from the same issues that affected the two sequels. So grab your knives, as we cut through my review for John Wick 4…
Having recovered from his deadly fall, John Wick is back on track to defeat The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, he’ll must face off against a powerful new enemy, with global alliances that will turn old friends into new enemies.
A fourth film had been teased by director Stahelski, following the release of Chapter 3, stating that there would be two more sequels, shot back to back if audiences reacted positively towards that instalment. The idea was ultimately dropped, to give each movie full focus. The studio then opted to move away from creator Derek Kolstad, signing on Shay Hatten to write the script, with Michael Finch taking on screenwriting duties in mid-2021.
Let us address the elephant in the room; its runtime! Yes, this is close to three hours long, yet due to its magnificent fast pacing, not a single minute is felt. In fact, once the credits started rolling, I was left with a longing for more! Part of that is due to the very tight-knit screenplay, allowing for just a handful of quiet moments to take place, most of which happen right at the beginning. The biggest surprise, however, is the sentimental finale! Hatten, Finch, and the director successfully created an action lovers wet dream!
What every Wick flick managed until now, is to feel tonally different from its predecessors. Chapter 4 is no different in this regard, appearing like an anti-James Bond or Mission: Impossible movie, with all its globe-trotting luxurious locations. The tension is relentless, only unwinding once it reaches the end. The stylish lore of this world is further expanded, introducing new characters, organisations plus regulations.
The script ain’t perfect, though, containing a lot of the problems that plagued the previous two sequels. For one, the emotional component driving our hero is still very lacklustre. The story is still a continuation of what we experienced in the last two while offering nothing new narrative-wise, bordering on the absurd, especially when it comes to some battle outcomes.
Conversations are snippy, playing off every word for cool, with Keanu Reeves himself, having a minimal amount of dialogue, that can be essentially broken down into two words.
Keanu Reeves returns as the titular “boogeyman” hitman John Wick. By now the Baba Yaga has killed around 300 people, still going on strong. Having recovered from his deadly fall in Parabellum, he is out to regain his freedom from The High Table, by any means! The character is likeable due to Reeve’s charisma and the persona’s loyalty to his friends - old or new! That said, Keanu Reeves has been downgraded to a pure action figure, with little to no emotional display, while his persona is practically, comically, immortal. Wick gets pushed into situations that should have at least crushed his bones.
Bill Skarsgård as the villainous Marquis Vincent de Gramont is brilliant! His portrayal of this pompous, snobbish prick is on point, stealing most scenes he is in! Ironically, he is wearing the most expensive suits, expressing himself as very cultured, though has no class at all. The Marquis is a sadistic bastard with no real spine when confronted directly, relying on his henchmen to defend him.
The dramatic moments are upheld by the supporting cast, who do nail their roles! Donnie Yen is a charming blast as Caine, a bad-ass blind assassin, forced out of retirement due to various reasons that I won’t get into. He is a former friend of the titular hero, tasked with killing him. Shamier Anderson plays Mr. Nobody, a surprise character tracking Wick’s whereabouts. He is by far one of my favourite additions!
Ian McShane kills it again as Winston, with some indications made as to his relation to John. Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King is once again fun to see! Hiroyuki Sanada is as always badass. Then there is Lance Reddick, who makes his final on-screen appearance. His scenes are even more impactful, following his untimely death.
This is by far the best-looking John Wick feature, hands-down! An issue with the third instalment is that the action starts to look repetitive, due to the long, uncut takes that showed several variations of gun-fu throws. Here it has been prevented by adding a variety of different combat styles, such as kendo, kyūdō, nunchucks, or other martial art styles. The action long shots, now a trademark for this franchise, are kept but a variety of new camera techniques are used, such as stunning-looking top-shots, a non-stop swivelling car chase-turned shootout around the Arc de Triomphe, and an endless staircase shootout.
The visuals are superb, containing neon lighting, a mix of warm plus cold colours, as well as breathtakingly gorgeous set designs and locations. The VFX enhances the supreme action, though the CGI blood is still somewhat distracting.
Composing duo Bates plus Richard return, producing the best-sounding score of the franchise. Keeping the main theme intact, the composers weave in different styles from different cultures, meant to underline the travelling aspect of the picture.
Verdict: Is this the final episode in the assassin’s movie series? It could well be, but if so it ends with a bang! Chad Stahelski has grown vastly as a filmmaker, creating not just an epic action thriller, with immaculately choreographed combat sequences, but a feature that is truly beautiful looking. Set design, lighting, colour palette, and shooting locations are spectacular. The variation of martial arts keeps the action from becoming too repetitive. The script is tight-knit, keeping audiences from feeling the three-hour-long runtime, yet still includes emotional outcomes, as well as expanding the underground crime world. The score is phenomenal, as is the sound editing. Best are the new characters, with Donnie Yen giving one of his most memorable performances. That said, the story offers nothing new, while the lead character survives ridiculous falls and collisions. John Wick: Chapter 4 is, without a doubt, the best of the sequels and needs to be experienced on the big screen! I give it an 8.5 out of 10.
Have you already seen John Wick: Chapter 4? If not, I can only recommend this action extravaganza! Let me know what your favourite part is & as always, thank you for reading!