REVIEW – “John Wick: Chapter 4”

The trajectory of the John Wick franchise is absolutely fascinating – what started as a modest, low-budget action film in 2014 spawned into a franchise that has made over half a billion dollars worldwide. Though for most that saw the original John Wick when it came out back in 2014, it was clear that there was a vision behind the camera – not only within how stylish and precise the action was in comparison to most modern, American action films; but within the lore and world-building on display. Cut ahead to nearly ten years later with John Wick Chapter Four, and the creatives behind the franchise continue to impress with so much originality in each and every set-piece, as well as so much care and focus put into the intricacies of the lore of this secret society in which these characters live in. 

It’s this attention to detail that makes Chapter Four something genuinely special for the franchise – I’ve been a fan of the series as long as everyone else, as I’ve seen them all in theaters and loved the entire trilogy. But even with that being said, Chapter Four simply takes the franchise to new heights; it reminded me a ton of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, in the sense that it is a perfect crescendo and culmination of everything that the series does best and amplifies it as loud as it can possibly go. You thought the third-act set piece of Chapter Three was impressive? Or the museum sequence in Chapter Two? Wait until you see how elaborately designed and executed the set pieces here are. 

Without being too specific to avoid spoilers, there are a handful of set-pieces here that I would consider to be some of the best I’ve ever seen put to film before. Namely an incredible sequence in a night club where cinematographer Dan Lausten shows his chops with potentially his best work yet, as well as a mesmerizing sequence in Paris traffic, or even a sequence in Osaka that is one of the most dazzling sequences I’ve seen put to film in quite some time. At first glance, the 169 may feel a bit jarring to some as the franchise usually comes in a little below or above 120 minutes – but by the end, I promise you wouldn’t have it any other way as there is not a single sequence here that is worth cutting from the film. 

Another really impressive element to the longevity of this franchise is how synonymous it is with Keanu Reeves as an actor – there is simply no one else who could play the role with the same type of commitment to the physicality and specificity to the character’s personality. Here in Chapter Four, both the character and Keanu as a performer get the most to do in comparison to the rest of the franchise. The only reason the character of John Wick works is due to the emotion you feel for him due to the opening of the first film where you internalize everything he thinks and feels. In Chapter Four, it feels like there is the most dramatic weight to be felt since the first film – and it works so incredibly well; only adding to how important and consequential this one feels to the franchise as a whole. 

It’s not only just Keanu as John Wick that makes this a really impressive outing for the franchise, as the supporting cast really comes to play here. Not only do the supporting players like Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and the late Lance Reddick (Rest in Peace, legend!) have fun returning to their roles – but the new characters are the best the franchise has ever introduced. Bill Skarsgard shines as the villain Marquis, and the array of shady-yet-likable assassins are incredibly compelling; such as Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, and Clancy Brown. Shamier Anderson as the character Tracker really shines here, as he has such a unique chemistry with Wick and feels so unique to the rest of the franchise. Scott Adkins has potentially the best sequence of the franchise within this film, and serves as a wonderful adversary to John. However, the biggest name of the supporting cast and easily one of the best elements of the film is that of Donnie Yen; Donnie is obviously a legend in the industry, but he helps elevate Chapter Four to even higher heights than we’ve ever seen from the franchise – from his incredible physicality to his sense of humor and genuinely phenomenal chemistry with Keanu, I thought he was absolutely fantastic here.

Is John Wick Chapter Four the best of the entire franchise? I genuinely believe so. You’d be hard-pressed to find better set-pieces and elaborate fight choreography, better use of Keanu, and better world-building in the franchise – and even outside of the franchise itself, I’d give this the mantle of being the best action film I’ve seen in the last five years (only behind the aforementioned Mission: Impossible – Fallout) and an instant classic for the genre. It feels like the entire franchise has been leading up to this point in many different ways, as director Chad Stahelski gives it his absolute all with one of the most gorgeous, ferociously entertaining and paced action films that has ever been made. A near-masterpiece.


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