This spoiler-free review of John Wick: Chapter 4 contains only explicit information available in official trailers and TV spots for that film. I do, however, integrate spoilers for previous John Wick films.
Filled with astounding action, excellent direction, and fantastic performances, John Wick: Chapter 4 accomplishes everything it sets out to do. Though it is longer than most other action films, it never drags and it begs for repeat viewings. Indeed, if you have the chance, this is a movie worth watching on the big screen.
Action Elevated to Art
The John Wick films are famous primarily for two things—their worldbuilding and their action—and Chapter 4 is no exception.
Director Chad Stahelski is a former stuntman and stunt coordinator, and, accordingly, he has an impeccable understanding of action. Though I kept this in mind as I watched Chapter 4, it exceeded my expectations. Every single fight is kinetic, full of energy, and enhanced by excellent choreography—and the film’s creative incorporation of different weapons makes it stand out even more.
Above and beyond the typical arsenal of guns, the film heavily features swords that give ample opportunities for more unique fight scenes. This allows Chapter 4 to get amazing spectacle out of its action, whose potency is amplified further by extremely tight choreography. While I cannot go into too much detail due to spoilers, the extended fight scene in Japan shows all this brilliantly and was an absolute joy to watch.
The film’s direction and cinematography—namely, the ingenious framing of shots and use of color—matched the action in its step-up. Scenes in Chapter 4 are grounded by its superior framing of characters and action, which also adds new dimensions to the story and gives the film a much more “cinematic” feel than previous John Wick chapters.
Truly, this combination of action, directing, and cinematography elevates Chapter 4 to a cinematic work of art. This movie is not just a fun action flick but rather a masterpiece of action that can only be properly experienced on the big screen.
Rules and Consequences: Chapter 4’s Story and Characters Hide Subtle Depth
One of the strongest aspects of the John Wick franchise is its worldbuilding. From the introduction of the Continental Hotel in the first film to subsequent ones’ development of the intricacies of the High Table and assassin world, each movie has fleshed out the series’ world more and more. This holds true with Chapter 4, as we continue to explore the workings of the High Table as they hunt John.
Where the plot really shines, however, is with its character work. Despite being all-out action films, the movies in the franchise feature extremely well-developed characters, particularly in the titular John Wick. This trend continues in Chapter 4, with John having compelling relationships with Donnie Yen and Shamier Anderson’s assassins. Subtly yet more richly than would first meet the eye, those interactions evince good character development and even symbolism.
While all the actors are excellent, Keanu Reeves is the perfect casting choice for John Wick. Reeves has little dialogue in the film, yet he fully embodies the richly characterized Wick. Supporting Reeves, Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne are no less stellar in their roles as the Continental manager and the Bowery King, with the latter making for a wonderful Matrix reunion.
Donnie Yen and Shamier Anderson are welcome additions, with the former featured in some of the film’s best action scenes. And I would be remiss not to distinctly recognize Lance Reddick, who played the concierge of the New York Continental in all of the films. He is a wonderful actor who has consistently been one of my favorite parts of the John Wick films. He recently passed away at the age of 60, and I offer my condolences and prayers for his family. May he rest in peace.
Simply put, John Wick: Chapter 4 is awesome. It is an action film of the highest caliber, with top-tier acting, directing, and worldbuilding. Better yet, its primary purpose is to entertain and express artistry—setting it apart from the many modern films that evince political agendas.
This is a movie worth your time and money, and it is the type of film we certainly could use more of.
* The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.