John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4 ★★★★★

It brings the absolute biggest smile on my face to report that John Wick: Chapter 4 is worth every bit of the unfathomable hype and is one of the most exhilarating piece of action cinema I’ve probably ever seen in my lifetime. This feels like the epic culmination of what the saga has been leading up towards and as a massive fan of the franchise I could not have envisioned anything more satisfying than this. With some of the most expertly crafted action set pieces I’ve ever seen captured on film and remarkable fight choreography, I left the theater in awe at the masterclass in action filmmaking I had just witnessed.

Keanu Reeves, Chad Stahelski, and this entire team just continue to somehow top themselves in the action department with every new installment. The action in these films basically defy logic at this point, but that’s a big part of the fun because there’s now almost a fantastical element to these movies. Every single action set piece in this is so stunning and each of these sequences manages to top the one that came before it. I can’t even single out one favorite set piece until I’ve had the chance to see this one again. The film is consistently relentless and always moving, but what makes it even more satisfying is that it still makes for enough time to give us some very satisfying character beats in the film’s quieter moments. The score from Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard is also great once again too and might even be their best work for these films. And I know it’s way too early in the year to be talking about this already, but the cinematography from Dan Laustsen needs to be in strong contention for next year’s Oscars.

It's obvious to say that Reeves absolutely kills it again as John Wick and I continue to be amazed at the level of commitment he gives to these stunts given his age. We need to start putting him in the same league as other action stars like Tom Cruise if we’re not already. But what makes this another truly great John Wick movie is that the supporting cast around him is so freaking great and almost steals the show from Wick himself. Returning players like Ian McShane, Laurence Fishbourne, and the late great (Lance Reddick (RIP great sir) are once again wonderful. And the new cast additions are all outstanding. Shamier Anderson, Rina Sawayama, and Hiroyuki Sanada make for new standout supporting characters. Bill Skarsgard kills it as by far the best John Wick villain there has ever been. And yet Donnie Yen might still come out as the biggest MVP of them all. Calling him badass in this is an underestimate. His Caine is so much fun to watch and so is the chemistry between him & Reeves.

I’ve loved all these John Wick films including the sequels, but the one thing I think still has me giving the edge to the first film over two stellar sequels is the stronger emotional core. This sequel manages to strike a great balance of not only delivering more of the chaotic absurdity that I sure love about the previous two entries, but also having real emotional weight which is pretty much why I fell in love with that original in the first place. Like that film, this is very much a revenge story and a consistently engaging one at that. Yes it’s repeating a lot of the same beats, but also further expanding the thrilling world building that previous entries have set up so well too. And as for that insane length? This is probably the best paced nearly 3 hour film I’ve seen in recent memory and we’ve had a lot of those lately. I never felt the length and easily wanted this to keep going too.

I’m trying to find elements to criticize about and there’s not much. Is this installment bringing much new to the franchise? Not really, these films have a very simple formula that they don’t divert from. But when you deliver upon that established formula with results as spectacular as this, it’s impossible not to walk away immensely satisfied by everything you just saw.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is incredible and everything I could ask for as a Wick fan. I’m not sure where the franchise goes from here, but I was very satisfied with the ending of this film. It might also just be the best pure action film since Mission: Impossible Fallout and fittingly enough the only upcoming action film I can see giving this one a run for its money is Dead Reckoning. We’ve had a strong start to 2023, but this is the film I’ve seen so far this year and it’s also the only one so far that I can see still having a place in my Top 10 at the year’s end (and you know how much I love Scream VI, Creed III etc.)

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