Who doesn’t love a good action movie? Especially one starring Keanu Reeves! If The Matrix was too sci-fi or out of the box for you, well, John Wick: Chapter 4 is practical stunt fighting at its best.
The John Wick franchise is all about its practical effects and stunning fight choreography. John Wick: Chapter 4 does not disappoint. When filmmakers can make a film beyond the standard trilogy that still keeps the audience engaged and wanting more, you’ve clearly got something special. From the cast and crew in front of the camera and behind, everyone has done what’s needed to make this new chapter not only lovable, but memorable.
Chad Stahelski continues as director of the franchise. The writers are Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum), Michael Finch (Hitman: Agent 47), and Derek Kolstad (John Wick). This new chapter catches up with our favorite hit-man following the events of John Wick: Chapter 3. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is laying low while the price on his head steadily increases. The Marquis (Bill Skarsgård) has been tasked with finding John and getting rid of him, permanently. John charts a path to defeat the High Table and gain his freedom. Chaos and death follow, pitting John against players from the underworld from New York to Paris to Japan to Berlin. It’s a wild ride across the globe.
This cast is brilliant. The movie also stars Donnie Yen (Caine), Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shimazu), Shamier Anderson (Tracker), Lance Reddick (Concierge Charon), Rina Sawayama (Akira), Scott Adkins (Killa), and Ian McShane (Manager Winston). These top tier actors played well off each other. The characters are developed so well, and each actor highlights them to perfection.
In a film where everyone is a criminal, you still have someone to root for or want to see die. That being said, one of the major plot points that really keeps this story going is the conflict between Caine and John. Caine is a blind assassin caught between his ties to the High Table to protect his daughter and his friendship with Wick. His depiction by Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) easily became a favorite. To pit the two against each other made for great drama and even greater action.
There were high stakes for the audience. You didn’t want to see either die. Yen is an accomplished martial arts actor, but he was too smooth with the samurai sword. It was fun to watch. The use of his cane in John Wick: Chapter 4 was reminiscent of his scenes with his walking stick in Rogue One. His humor shines through as well.
Like Halle Berry in John Wick: Chapter 3, Anderson as Tracker brought action to the film with his dog. This franchise loves their dogs. After all, dogs are part of the foundation for the whole series, the reason John Wick is on his killing spree of the High Table. Skarsgård is such a great villain.
Reeves delivers as John Wick yet again. It’s a character I can’t see anyone else playing. He brings this clumsy, sometimes aloof, dangerous, deadpan emotion, and quirky edge to the character. Sometimes you wonder how he’s still alive, then other times you wonder how he hasn’t killed everyone yet. There was a moment where it looked like his fighting was in slow motion, or the choreography wasn’t as seamlessly integrated. But, I chalked it up to age and the real life look they were going for.
From start to finish, the action in this film is top notch. Not only are the fight sequences choreographed to perfection (thanks, Laurent Demianoff), but the way they are captured on screen is mesmerizing. The cinematography (Dan Laustsen) and direction go hand in hand with the stunt work. It all comes together beautifully.
You can’t have an action flick without a car chase scene, and this one was one of the coolest I have ever seen. Round and round they went below the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was that edge-of-your-seat frenzy that we love to get from movies — another reason you can’t miss this one in theaters. John Wick: Chapter 4 is thrilling and the action is ridiculously awesome and funny and entertaining. You don’t mind that the film is almost three hours long. The pacing keeps everything where it should be. The film keeps your focus where it should be.
Action movies seem like a dime a dozen these days, but nothing compares to the John Wick franchise. It’s smart and cool. It doesn’t rely on gigantic explosions or out of the box, farfetched car chases, or hypersexualized women. It’s pretty close to being the perfect action film. Go for the action, stay for the cast. Be wowed in the theater with realistic fight scenes.
John Wick: Chapter 4 hits theaters March 24, 2023.