John Wick: Chapter 4

A new chapter to a modern classic trilogy is upon us. A movie that has been anticipated since its announcement, and then even more so when its release date was pushed back a whole calendar year due to covid scheduling complications. A series that has continuously one-upped itself throughout each installment due to the amount of action, chaos, and adventure we are experiencing with the “anti-hero” the films are named after. Director Chad Stahelski, Keanu Reeves, and the rest of the returning cast and crew knew what it would take to continue the success of The Continental world building and close-quarters gun firing. It is without question that the team was able to step up and possibly provide us with one of the best movies of the year.

With a punch to a bloodied wooden board that rumbled the packed IMAX room I sat in, “John Wick: Chapter 4” started off exactly like you would expect, with a literal bang. Starting up right where Chapter 3 left off, John (Keanu) has been blessed by the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburn) with a place to hide out as he recovers from being shot off of the NYC Continental. As John shoots and slashes his way out of being excommunicado and back into the good graces of the High Table, he comes across old friends and new foes that are willing to take him down for the bounty that still lingers over his head and for their own second chance at life. With the introduction of new characters, Caine (Donnie Yen) and The Tracker (Shamier Anderson), we see a new emotional element to the Wick universe that we haven’t seen since the first installment of the series. With Caine looking to take the life of Wick to earn back the life of his daughter and The Tracker, also known as “Nobody,” looking to hunt him down for the bounty to take care of himself and his K9 companion, there are clear “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” elements at here. Chad doesn’t stray away from other inspirations from other films throughout this series, either. He has openly admitted that the motorcycle fight scene from “John Wick: Chapter 3” was stripped straight from “The Villainess”, but with his own twist. There was even an incredible “Warriors” reference in the final act of this movie when John Wick is playing Gun-Fu frogger with kevlar suited goons that are trying to take him down before he reaches The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. Even with this emotional western influence, just like “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,” this movie still knows how to kick ass. 

With a runtime of just under two hours and fifty minutes, this movie never feels like a drag. It is full of intense action set pieces and sequences that give you just the right amount of time to comprehend what is happening but leave you wanting to immediately rewatch a kill that just took place because of how insane it was. There were several times in the theater when people, including myself, could do nothing but say “holy shit” from what we were witnessing. This movie, more than the previous ones, felt like an intense video game. As John works his way through the flurry of minions and nameless thugs in these extravagant settings and colorful places, he takes a beating and then finally gets his hands on the boss battle that he will need to finish to be able to take him to the next mission. There’s even a sequence in the movie where John is making his way through an abandoned building, and the camera goes overhead in resemblance to “Hotline Miami” as shoots his way through foes with dragon’s breath shotgun shells. It’s absolute chaos. It’s incredible to think about the possibility of what made the cutting room floor and all of the possible action sequences or longer fight scenes we are missing out on. 

If I were to make any type of critique of this movie, it’s the same I’ve had with the previous ones. When John gets into his grappling and hand-to-hand combat, the person he is fighting with is usually wearing similar-colored clothing. It becomes so hard to tell which person is which at times, and becomes a ball of flailing limbs. When you watch other Kung Fu movies, you notice that their opponents wear conflicting colors so the viewer can distinguish between the two. But when you have your brain turned off and knuckles deep in a bag of popcorn and butter, who cares? You just watched three hours of, damn near non-stop chaos. When’s the next time I can get some more?

 With characters being spared, an Ana de Armas-led spin-off movie on its way, and a television show in the works, there is so much potential for where this franchise can go. I am interested to see if the latest installment has set too high of a bar for the possibilities of the universe. If anything else that comes out after this doesn’t reach that mark, will the people be disappointed? I am also interested in seeing if Chad Stahelski is willing to pass up the director reins of  the next movie since he has his eyes set on a live action “Ghost of Tsushima” movie after the recent success of “The Last of Us.” This whole movie felt like an expensive pre-vis or pitch to show people that it can be done. Either way, my butt will be in the seat, or my TV will be turned on for whatever they have in store.

Elijah Horton is a Long Island born, Orlando-based writer and photographer. Since he was a kid, Elijah has had a deep passion for movies, music, and photography.

That passion led him to Full Sail where he graduated with a film degree and a desire to make a film of his own one day. For now he’s just pretty good at writing about them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *