Actions, consequences and rules. “Without them, we’d live with the animals,” says Winston. No matter how hard John Wick fights, these rules consistently drag him deeper into a cycle of action and reaction. What started as an indie action film, slowly evolved into a modern-day action epic. With each sequel, the consequences of John’s actions reared their heads in grander ways. John Wick: Chapter 4 finally completes Mr. Wick’s blood-soaked journey in one of the greatest American action films since Mad Max: Fury Road.
Escalation has always been a significant theme in these films. With each sequel, Director Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves cooked up entrees of bold action sequences. With John Wick: Chapter 4, they deliver an entire buffet! The action sequences are long and unrelenting, but never once does it feel redundant. The cinematography of Dan Laustsen moves with purpose and uses creative shots and angles to capture the elegant chaos of the action sequences. No matter how outlandish the action sequences get, the practical stunts and choreography are so perfect that it never ruins the immersion. They say that “less is more,” but John Wick: Chapter 4 proves that sometimes, more is better.
Keanu Reeves may be the face of the franchise, but he’s always had a solid cast of colorful supporting actors to bounce off of. John Wick: Chapter 4 continues that trend. Newcomers Shamier Anderson and Rina Sawayama play small, but noteworthy roles as Tracker and Akira respectively. Their future in the franchise shows promise. It’s about time they bring Donnie Yen to the John Wick universe as the blind assassin Caine. Despite being an absolute badass, Caine has a clear motivation that helps us side with him despite his mission to kill John. Bill Skarsgard’s performance as the Marquis was a welcome surprise. With his towering figure and wonderful suits, the Marquis is a wonderfully vile antagonist who might be the stronger villain of the franchise.
The John Wick films have never had strong plots, but JW4’s plot takes a bit too long to get going. The plot is simple: John must defeat the Marquis in order to gain his freedom. The issue is that information doesn’t get relayed until further into the film’s runtime. The first act has to deal with so much exposition that it drags as we wait for the next big action sequence. JW4 has a lot of ground to cover but there could have been some fat trimming in order to keep a steadier pace.
John Wick: Chapter 4 leaves nothing on the table. As a swan song to the Baba Yaga, Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves deliver their magnum opus. For those who have been following the character of John Wick since 2014, JW4 is a melancholic yet emotional sendoff that feels true to the character. As an action film, this is the peak of what action cinema should be. The practical stunt work, cinematography, and worldbuilding are unlike anything being done in action films today. The gauntlet has been thrown for all action films going forward.