March 16, 2023 (NYC)– John Wick: Chapter 4 Movie Review. A Look at John Wick: Chapter 4, the highly anticipated continuation of one the most iconic film series of the 21st Century. Here is a synopsis and review of this Lionsgate release.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
John Wick: Chapter 4 picks up where Chapter 3: Parabellum left off. As has been the tradition in the sequels to this beloved martial arts action franchise the action starts from the very inception of the film’s opening, and lasts until the curtain falls. JW4 is no exception to that rule. What it does do is improve on the prior installment, and solidify Keanu Reeves as the greatest martial arts action star of all time. If you don’t accept that notion, then you must accept the fact that it solidifies Reeves and Director, Chad Stahelski, as the greatest martial arts action pairing of modern times.
The film opens in New York City, the home of the notorious Continental Hotel, and takes us to Osaka Japan, Paris France, and Berlin Germany. Each of those cities plays a major role in Reeves’ quest to seek revenge against the High Table for the acts outlined in the prior films, and to seek his unconditional freedom from service to their order.
As the story unfolds we learn a bit more about Wick’s past and upbringing than we did in the prior films, but not enough to get bogged down in. He uses his connections to his past, and the help of some old friends to find a path to level the playing field with the High Table’s Emissary, The Marquis, played masterfully by Bill Skarsgård. Skarsgård makes the character memorable, and unique, with just a hint of Santino from the second installment.
Hiroyuki Sanada and Reeves are reunited, having starred in 47 Ronin together. Sanada, as is always the case, is a strong presence in the film and makes the most of every scene he is in. He is a great addition to the film. The Osaka Continental fight scenes are groundbreaking, and among the best and most exciting in the entire series. This is some of the best fight and action choreography you will see; only topped by other scenes in this same movie.
Scott Adkins plays an unusually larger than life villain adeptly. The action and violence around the Berlin scenes involving his character, and his relationship to Reeves’ past is fun to watch. Adkins is great to watch, whether starring in his own projects, or supporting, as he is here.
Shamier Anderson and Clancy Brown are new to the series and add great value. Anderson as a cunning assassin conflicted between admiration and greed. Clancy Brown is a strong presence and welcome replacement in the role of Adjudicator. I found Asia Kate Dillon’s version of the same character to be the weakest part of the prior film, and, perhaps, of the whole series.
Mark Zaror, another great martial artist also has a prominent role as The Marquis’ right hand man.
Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne return and offer more than just familiarity to the cast. Their roles are significant and meaningful.
Donnie Yen brings not only his skills as one of the finest martial arts movie stars in the world, but lends his presence as a charismatic and riveting figure. He plays the role of Caine with complexity and humanity that is a terrific mirror to Reeves’ Wick; his friend and adversary by circumstance. This was a fantastic choice to take the Wick series to a new level.
Keanu Reeves continues to be engaging, empathetic, and dynamic in the role of John Wick. While the series has strayed a bit from the deeply reluctant anti-hero of the first film; we continue to cheer for the good guy caught up in a bad, bad world. One of the great strengths of the film is that Reeves and Stahelski are not afraid the let characters other than Wick shine. In fact, all of the stars of this one have their deeply profound and memorable moments in and out of the company of the main character. This really works.
As for the fight and action choreography. The stunt team at 87eleven continue to elevate the game. The film has three major, larger than life action sequences, that each, individually, outdo anything you will see in any other non John Wick movie. As mentioned previously, the Osaka and Berlin scenes were high energy, high body count affairs. They were complete with gun fights, sword mastery, gun play, and one of the best nunchuck displays you will ever see outside of a Bruce Lee movie. As for the scenes in Paris, at the Arc De Tripomphe, and on the Church steps, they are unlikely to be forgotten and, unlikely, to be topped for years to come, if ever. They are unique and exciting and violent feasts for the eyes.
While I have heard some say that John Wick: Chapter 4 is the best installment in the series I have to disagree, Nothing can top the original, in my opinion; however, Chapter 4 is a worthy installment for sure.
Will there be a Chapter 5 to the JohnWick saga? Remember, I said this was a Spoiler free review….
John Wick: Chapter 4, hits theaters on March 24, 2023, from Lionsgate, a Thunder Road Films / 87eleven production. While this film is significantly longer than any in the series, it moves at a rapid fire pace.
Run Time: 2 hours 49 Minutes
Rating: R (likely)
Country of Origin: United States