🎄Matthew L. Brady🎄🎅❄️’s review published on Letterboxd:
Marquis: “Remember your daugh-”
Caine: “Fuck off!”
John Wick Chapter 4 is an absolute beast of a movie. The gunshots sounded like poetry, and the fight scenes were like a dance piece. It is one of the best action movies I have seen since Mad Max Fury Road and the recent Mission Impossible movies. With all the current junk in cinemas and online streaming, I am glad we still manage to get quality movies because that is what audiences want.
I watched this movie in IMAX, and it was an incredible experience. The sound design was insane.
Just from the opening, I knew I was in for a ride. It starts with John Wick punching a wooden board, with one punch making a loud impact that shook and vibrated the whole room, all thanks to the IMAX speakers. Then we are re-introduced to the Bowery King, played by Laurence Fishburne, who delivers a monologue, with Fishburne's delivery making it sound Shakespearean. Wick continues to punch the board with each bang creating a build-up. They even did a match cut from Lawrence of Arabia, capturing the smooth scene transition.
Not only is this cinema, but a beautiful call-back to classic cinema. The previous John Wick movies had callbacks to the golden age of film that doesn't feel like a cheap love letter.
Also, I was worried about the nearly three-hour-long runtime, with the last film getting repetitive after a while. Thankfully, it did not drag, as it has a solid pace.
Keanu Reeves, what can I say about this man; Keanu is also 60 years old but shows no sign of it in terms of his physicality. On the surface, Mr. Wick is a cold assassin who will pile bodies on top of bodies just to escape the hitman world. However, despite playing someone famous and feared, Reeves has the saddest eyes that make him feel vulnerable. He elevates the character so much that if any other actor played John Wick, it would have been generic and dull.
New additions to the cast like Donnie Yen, who plays a deadly blind man, the type no one wants to fight because who wants to admit they lost to a blind man? There is a comedic touch to him how he uses his walking cane. Usually, when movies get legendary martial artists, they are often wasted or not allowed to live up to their most tremendous potential. In this movie, he is used effectively and gets to shine.
Rina Sawayama was a fantastic addition to the series, where she had some wicked action scenes in the first act. I am interested in seeing more of her character, hopefully. Hiroyuki Sanada, a familiar face you may have seen in other action movies, was great in the scenes he had. He is an actor and martial artist that I feel does not get enough credit that he deserves. Ian McShane is solid as always because he is Ian McShane, after all. Scott Adkins, AKA this version of ‘fat bastard’. What a fun performance that was hysterical to watch.
Lance Reddick is not in this very long, but with the slim screen time we did get from him, it pains me to know that we lost such a stellar presence of an actor.
Bill Skarsgård plays an arrogant French villain that you dislike. Sometimes certain actors will be typecast in villain roles that you either roll your eyes at or say, “of course”. Most of the time, it becomes an unimaginative and safe choice to shoehorn actors into a “bubble”, because it worked out so well before, but here, the film did a great job of making you hate this guy, and with a good reason to. He’s a rotten fruit of a person dressed in fancy and slick clothing to parade around his importance. At the start, it is clear he is not messing around or someone you should mess with.
Among the cast, Shamier Anderson was another stand-out performance/character with a loyal and bitty dog sidekick. I cannot believe I am saying this, but this is the only instance where I want to see spin-offs from these characters.
Chapter 4 has the best action, the best soundtrack, the best cinematography, the best villain, the best introduction to new characters, and the best climax.
Action set pieces that keep outdoing themselves. One set piece involved John Wick making his way up 220 stairs of the Sacré Coeur in Paris while facing off enemies, which was a sight to behold that my jaw was wide up during one part. It was funny and spectacular in execution. Or how about the Berlin club fight scene that was hypnotising and wonderful.
Despite how repeatedly John can be thrown, shot, or stabbed, he can never be taken down or killed. Can Mr. Wick die? Of course, he can. He does bleed, and I learned in Predator (1987) that if it bleeds, it can die. Personally, Mr. Wick chooses not to die, not yet. The movie makes him out to be a legend, a myth, someone impossible to kill in the eyes of other assassins. It could have been a Fast & Furious scenario where things get too stupid with every character being death-proof. On the other hand, what surprised me about this movie is how it leans onto the idea of mortality, hanging onto what is left of his life and wondering how long this can keep going; despite all the pain and tiredness that life throws at you. Your lead character, quite literally, has had enough.
There is something tragic and beautiful about these movies, but also freaking cool. John Wick movies are a golden example of action done right, and Chapter 4 is easily my favourite in the series.
Overall rating: “Yeah.”