JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 – A Review by Jenn Rohm
At the end of John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum, we see the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) wheeling John Wick (Keanu Reeves) away in a grocery cart after being shot by Winston (Ian McShane) and falling off the top of The Continental. John Wick: Chapter 4 picks up with John getting back into fighting form. It continues the story of John working to be free of The High Table again. The tale of ‘Baba Yaga’ is action-packed from the first moment. I do encourage seeing it in Imax, it does add to being pulled in. The bonus: you get a chair massage from the bass which helps with the 2h 49m runtime.
As in prior films, we have the core crew supporting and helping John. There are also other characters introduced to us. We meet Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Akira (Rina Sawayama) at the Osaka Continental, where a no-name tracker (Shamier Anderson) and his furry companion are checked in as well. Caine (Donnie Yen) is also a long-time friend of John and Shimazu who plays within the rules of The High Table and his internal code. Representing the table and the driving antagonist is Marquis Vincent de Garmont (Bill Skarsgård) who truly enjoys the things that money can buy.
There are a few things I did not care for. Many of the fight scenes use the same talent repeatedly as “bad guys”. I understand that there is a limited talent pool to work from at this level and being familiar with the choreography has advantages, especially for the safety of all involved. My disappointment was that it felt like John was fighting someone that had already been killed a few times. Next is the villain Killa (Scott Adkins) coming off a bit cartoonish. This is beyond the action film viewer ‘allowed outside the real world’ to happen. Some of it is costume choice, some script, and a bit of the actor himself. It reminded me a bit of Dick Tracy as opposed to this franchise. Finally, while John is fighting Killa in a club there are shots where the clubgoers are just standing waiting for their queue to begin dancing. With the delayed release due to the pandemic, there was time for better editing.
On the flip side, this film takes it to the next level over the ones before. One of the indoor fight scenes is given a variety of points of view. Including a sky-down view over the action which was amazing. Cheers to the set design team for giving themes to the different rooms and paying attention to the details in the background. While I did find the score to be leading, the music fit in. There is even a ‘hats off’ to The Doors while in Paris. The franchise continues to step up with strong female roles. This supports the possible offshoot of Ballerina set to star Ana de Armas. I am an action film fan and this one continues living up to the high standards we, as fans, have come to expect.
Side note: fun bit of trivia, the Harbinger is played by Clancy Brown. Clancy was Kurgan in Highlander, and this led to his voice being used on Queen’s “Gimme the Prize (Kurgan’s Theme)”.
There are rumors of Chapter 5 and a series on Peacock called The Continental which will be a prequel. It will be interesting to see if these do pan out. That said (hint), I would stay through to the end after all the credits. I will remind you this is a long film, so watch the liquid consumption so you don’t miss a moment.
It is with great sadness that I share the following. Lance Reddick, the fan-favorite concierge Charon, passed away on March 17, 2023. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. This took place after viewing the film, so I am unaware of how the franchise will pay its respects.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Written By: Shay Hatten, Michael Finch, Derek Kolstad (based on characters created by)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Ian McShane
MPAA Rating: R (pervasive strong violence and some language)
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
Selig Rating: 4.5 stars
Runtime: 2h 49m
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Movie Site: John Wick official movie site
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well there was nothing else . . .
1 Star – Total waste of time.