John Wick: Chapter 4, directed by Chad Stehelski, with screenplay by Michael Finch and Shay Hatten, is the culmination of a bloody path that began with vengeance over a murdered puppy. With that, moments come full circle as John (Keanu Reeves) tries to shake off the oppressive yoke of his former contract killer lifestyle.
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He does this by killing people free of charge.
There are inconsistent moments, but thanks to the death-defying sequences and eye-bulging battles, the movie is as much a knockout as Wick’s nunchucks wielding. However, John Wick: Chapter 4 moves from the world’s mystique, pushing character investment that makes you want everyone to survive-save one, with spectacular cinematography that shoves action to the next level.
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The Big Bad Is Less Bad, More Obnoxious
We find John Wick after the climax of the third film honing his punches-or just keeping busy-when Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) brings him a suit. With his ever-present and trusty gun in hand, Wick still strives to get out of his former career. But at first, there’s no cemented target, like a “big bad.” As stated in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the infamous and illusive Table sees all. Everything is “under the Table.”
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Enter a strutting peacock, Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), who is now in charge of putting Wick down with the Table’s support. Bill Skarsgård brings a similar cocky, annoying quality that previous villains in the first and second films. They have no real power themselves, save for what others give them. Winston (Ian McShane), despite shooting Wick off a building at the last film’s end, now offers Wick a way out. Challenge Mr. Peacock, aka Marquis, to a duel. It must be honored, and Winston being Winston, there’s also something in it for him.
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Love This Unforgettable Cast
Besides the fight choreography and directing, John Wick: Chapter 4 has a cavalcade of characters in this Continental world to love. Charon (Lance Reddick) remains preferable to Winston. As a cast, everyone brings unique traits making their distinct personalities pop. However, Keanu Reeves deserved better dialogue as he is more funny than moving. But he makes up for it with some comically-timed facial expressions in battle.
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Seeing beloved Donnie Yen fighting and his overall personality gave me flashes of Naruto. Though tough, cool guys are lovely, seeing the spark of humor with the resolve and fire underneath is a dynamite combination. Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama) deftly cement their familial bond within moments, which takes a skill level few can achieve. Though, hands down, Tracker (Shamier Anderson) is a scene stealer, though his trusty dog certainly helps.
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Sick Fight Choreography…Mostly
The fight sequences take on such a grandiose scale of neverending bullets and people standing after taking several shots that it sometimes pushes believability. Some sections were blatantly mistimed or poorly executed, as a random opponent flails in the background until it’s their turn to taste John Wick’s fury. This occurs a few times almost in succession and temporarily pulls you out of the film with a grimace. But either these mishaps vanish or the characters and directing reel you in so entirely that they only appear to disappear. The fights run the gamut of weapons, traveling combat, and seemingly ordinary turned lethal locales.
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John Wick 4’s Direction Sets a High Bar
The directing and color palette is stunning; cool, yet vibrant in hues of red one moment, then with gritty noir texture, only to follow up with a western-style gunslinger aesthetic. John Wick: Chapter 4 has something for everyone to gasp over. One particular directorial sequence was so astounding I marveled at the overhead game feel. Each death felt more sensational. I cannot recall a fight sequence employing that cinematic style, at least not in such a breathtaking fashion. It will not surprise me if that is one of the most talked about moments in the film because the suspense is so unyielding you jerk with every scene, letting out an “ooh” each time.
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Though some death flags telegraph too much in the film, John Wick: Chapter 4 is towering in its action-packed scope, delivering shocks in such rapid succession that it’s challenging to catch your breath. One of the strongest in an already impressive quartet of films, “blockbuster” is too tame to describe what this film has in store for audiences. Frenzied with a kinetic energy that’s a blink and you miss it, John Wick: Chapter 4 delivers the goods in spades.