I am not a John Wick fan; the first film was okay and the third was tiresome – I haven’t seen the second film. The only reason I watched Chapter 4 was because of its positive reception and it lived up to the hype which feels like a rarity nowadays. I had a great time watching John Wick Chapter 4 and I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for an action-packed spectacle that pushes the boundaries of action genre and creates an almost poetic spectacle of violence.
This film’s story is not very good and does not feel rewarding. It’s a simple plot with around ten events driving the entire story from start to finish, jumping from action set-piece to the next. It keeps things simple and easy to follow. It wraps up every character’s story and gives everyone their due – almost. The film ends up being a satisfying conclusion to the John Wick franchise. However, I found not developing key characters in the film to be slightly underwhelming – two characters are explained as John’s close friends with a shared past and loyalty to him yet it never feels convincing enough that they are this close to him.
At many points throughout the film, the script attempts to dive into Wick’s psychology and philosophy and this is where you see some depth within the film, but sadly this part of the film is not really developed.
Keanu Reeves is very wooden but I love him on screen, he’s perfect for the role because he is the role. Joining him are legendary actors Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada who are incredible fighters: you know you’re in for a show when one of these two show up – sadly Hiroyuki Sanada was underutilized. Bill Skarsgaard (Pennywise from IT) makes for a decent villain, though it took me a while to take him seriously. Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne are as good as always. Lance Reddick’s role was sadly very small. I thoroughly enjoyed Shamier Anderson’s Mr. Nobody. His Malinois was a fun addition.
The runtime is long but it passes and it did not feel slogged towards the end like the third film which I remember got too tiring and excessive with the action. In Chapter 4 the events were evenly paced and the action was not all too stretched – and the creativity of the scenes stops them from getting mundane and repetitive.
John Wick Chapter 4 does not skimp on the action and pours a lot of energy and artistry into crafting many stunning sequences that give the impeccable choreography the proper time to shine. By opting to use medium to large shots during the fight, the choreography and the environmental utilization are on display in both the foreground and the background, allowing you to fully take in the action instead of opting for the tiresome fast-paced intercutting between close-ups which rarely does the choreography any justice. By baring the entire actors and the environment around them, the action feels immersive, grounded, real, and downright impressive. These sequences are mostly relatively long shots with at least one person against 3 to 4 opponents. I have to mention a downside of the large framing of action and that is, for example: Keanu fights henchman #1 and knocks him down then he starts fighting henchman #2, and during a single take, you can see henchman #1 purposefully delaying getting up or reaching for a gun so Keanu would finish fighting henchman #2 just in time to be ready to beat up #1 and not allow the sequence to look wrong. And there are other similar moments where an opponent flanking John Wick and only raising his gun when Keanu turns and so on. But they’re not easy to notice and it’s fine. And a lot of the film’s events ask you to suspend your disbelief beyond its limits. This can get annoying but in the face of some of the best action and fighting I’ve ever seen; I’ll ignore my limits. It’s truly an incredible achievement in pure action. At many points the action got a little bit ridiculous especially the bulletproof suits and John Wick’s plot armor. The first hour has some mind-blowing action, but the next hour has even more intense sequences, leaving the finale with mind-blowing scenes that are spectacular to watch, a true artistry of the medium. The way the scenes are planned and executed requires a lot of recognition. The entire stunt team has done phenomenal work. And this is all supported by excellent camerawork and visually striking shots (lighting, colors, framing).
The musical score and sound design were really good.
The visuals (colors, framing, production design) were beautiful, however slightly excessive sometimes, but I appreciate the effort.
The green screen work in the third act was distracting but not detracting.
And finally, this film never forgets the core of this franchise: loving dogs.
John Wick: Chapter 4 does not disappoint if you’re in for some top-tier action, if not the best action in recent years (and maybe ever though it’s not the greatest action film ever; a title reserved for Terminator 2: Judgement Day, in my opinion).