John Wick: Chapter 4

Carnage on the screen and in the box office


   In a film industry plagued by superhero fatigue and over-budgeted blockbusters, some action films manage to break new ground and succeed in spite of their tacky, money-grabbing counterparts. John Wick: Chapter 4, like Die Hard on steroids, takes the idea of violence and revenge to a whole new level. 

   The film follows Wick (Keanu Reeves) dealing with the fallout of breaking the rules of the High Table, the mysterious authority of the underworld that is feared and respected by all. Wick is avidly being hunted by Marquis, a crime boss hired by the High Table (Bill Skarsgard), who hires every mercenary across the globe to help him. 

   The “hardened veteran goes on killing spree” storyline does not disappoint despite its cliche. Reeves’ blunt one-liners and stoic portrayal of the assassin gives him a strangely entertaining allure in the fourth installment of the series. At the ripe age of 58, Reeves’s portrayal of Wick has matured with him. He’s become so good at killing that he’s almost sick of it, and Reaves’s concurrent weary and nonchalant mannerisms are oddly comedic and entertaining. 

   Additionally, the film’s endlessly creative action sequences, including a Crossy Road-esque fight around Paris’s Arc de Triomphe with assassins getting bashed by cars left and right, are ridiculous yet hilariously entertaining. Director Chad Stahelski pulls off 10-minute scenes of brutal murder and bloodshed, somehow without being overkill. Brilliantly realistic props, sound editing, and stunt coordination all contribute to the intensity of the action as well. Every kid and their dad will be captivated by the ridiculousness of the violence. 

   Basing a movie around an assassin with no morals and absurd knack for killing could make it seem difficult to introduce realistic themes. However, the film’s ability to make fun of itself and choose its comedic moments allow for more serious tones to develop. At its core, the series is a story of love and grief and shows how far a man will go to honor his wife — this movie continues to stay loyal to this theme a pleasurable amount. 

   Although the pace lags at times, the slower scenes are necessary to smooth plot holes and develop a rational storyline. Bill Skarsgard’s captivating performance as Marquis additionally helps move along the dull moments. 

   The film’s idiosyncratic bunch of supporting characters give Wick endless obstacles that keep you on high alert and never hungry for more action: a mysterious “nobody” who agrees to hunt Wick for the money with a rabid German shepherd as a sidekick (Shamier Anderson). A blind assassin and old friend of Wick blackmailed into hunting him to protect his daughter (Donnie Yen). Each offers an interesting dynamic that only adds to the fun.

   Futuristic coloring and elaborately luxurious sets, like the neon lights of the fictitious Continental Osaka Hotel, gives the film a unique and surprisingly artistic look that enhances the action with grand scenery.

   Ultimately the film’s greatness is derived from its genius fight sequences and Reeves’s ability to embrace his cliche role as the lone-wolf mercenary. Keanu Reeves isn’t John Wick, John Wick is Keanu Reeves. What’s cultivated is the kind of legendary action that can only be brought to life by legendary actors that you want to root for for three hours straight.