Keanu Reeves’ John Wick has firmly solidified as an action-hero icon. John Wick: Chapter 4 ups the stakes, as one might expect for this bombastic series of films. While it does take more risks and adds a heavier body count, this fourth and final chapter goes out with a bang.
John Wick’s Curse
After the fallout of Chapter 3, John (Keanu Reeves) is feeling confident about taking down more of the High Table. Even with an increasing bounty on his head, he’s proven he can handle any army throughout three movies. Less so, however, are his associates.
John’s rampage has placed Continental owner Winston Scott (Ian McShane) in a tough spot. High Table’s Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) takes note of John’s relationships and uses them against him. It leads the entire assassin underworld to view John Wick as a man where death always follows.
John’s old friend Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama) are embodying the conflicting forces of John’s path. Shimazu chooses to keep the fight going, while Akira favors that John should turn himself in. John’s encounter of both these accomplished assassins gives him plenty to consider as he fights his way to the top.
A New Batch of Challengers in John Wick: Chapter 4
Wick’s foes for this round have some unique motivations. John’s old friend, Caine (Donnie Yen), is a blind hitman who operates like Zatoichi in modern times. With his daughter’s life threatened by the High Table, Caine grits his teeth at taking on the task of assassinating his old chum.
Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson) is a tracking bounty hunter who only kills when the price is right. While motivated by greed, he also works with a dog. Perhaps John preventing another pet from being killed will turn this bounty hunter around.
The more menacing rival of the picture is undoubtedly Scott Adkins as the towering Killa. Posed as a giant German club owner, Killa looks like a Dick Tracy villain. Watching him sock John Wick across the floors of his nightclub is quite the sight.
A Dizzying Ballet of Blood
There should be no surprise that John Wick: Chapter 4 has gorgeous fight scenes. Every scene, from the massacre of a Japanese Continental to a violent ascent up steep stairs, is eye-popping brilliant. Wick and an endless array of aggressors engage in what is sure to be an action franchise with the heaviest body count.
There’s excellent cleverness in the weapons used for this these many fights. The Japanese Continental, for example, features guns, swords, arrows, knives, nunchucks, and more. There’s a split-second moment during Wick’s rampage where the assassins realize that, yes, Wick is using nunchucks to kill.
Shots Heard Around the World
The highly atmospheric action sequences have plenty of amazing sights to see. Highlights include a Japanese museum of weapons, a vibrant Berlin nightclub, and a daring horse chase in the Middle East. There are also some brief stops in New York to catch up with returning characters of the eccentric Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and the straight-faced concierge Charon (Lance Reddick).
The most elaborate scene in John Wick: Chapter 4 is when Wick fights off a complete encirclement of bad guys at the Arc de Triomphe roundabout. Remember how John was hammered by cars during Chapter 2? Well, imagine how much damage he takes from running and gunning through oncoming traffic, with nearly every driver trying to kill him.
The atmosphere for all of this is just beautiful. Every set piece is a treat for the eyes. My favorite is Killa’s office, which looks like a combination of lights from a rave and fan blades straight out of Blade Runner. It’s the more decadent smoky rooms, and I’d expect nothing less from such an over-the-top character.
Rules to the Game
Although it’d be easy to write off John Wick’s entire arc as a series of fights, there’s more to it than that. Throughout every film, John wages war against an oppressive hierarchal system. The High Table doesn’t just control a portion of the criminal underworld; they control the world itself.
This aspect is more implied than outright stated but serves the theme well. Wick doesn’t just want to kill but humiliate the High Table and prove that the elites of violence can’t get away with what they’ve done to him. As with tackling any hierarchical system, this becomes a long and grueling fight for justice and freedom.
That drive within Wick makes his journey one where he’ll have to fight harder and smarter. It won’t be enough to defeat Marquis Vincent de Gramont, as he’ll be easily replaced. While I dare not spoil the ending, let’s say there’s a satisfying yet knowing nature to how Wick achieves his goal.
Conclusion: John Wick: Chapter 4
John Wick: Chapter 4 is another blood-pumping entry and acts as a perfect conclusion for this quadrilogy. It’s impressive how all four movies combine to become one of the most progressively exciting movie series, improving with each chapter. Staged with beautiful fights, bombastic violence, and a stirring tale of revenge, the John Wick saga has become one of the most impressive film franchises.
John Wick: Chapter 4 starring Keanu Reeves will play in theaters everywhere starting March 24th, 2023.
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