John Wick: Chapter 4 Review

John Wick: Chapter 4 Review

Andy Behrmann '24

In 2014, John Wick was introduced to the world not as the bogeyman, but as the man you send to kill the bogeyman. Although the first movie of the series did not come from a previously existing intellectual property and the plot and dialogue were rather simplistic, it had some great action sequences and an extremely talented crew working on the film, and it successfully kickstarted the John Wick franchise. Nine years and four movies later, it appears that we have come to the end of the John Wick series, and it certainly finished with a bang.  

As I said earlier, the concept and overall plot of the John Wick series is extremely simple.  For those who do not know, John Wick is about a former hitman grieving over his wife’s death, and in each movie, for one reason or another, he is reluctantly thrown back into the criminal underworld. One big difference between John Wick: Chapter 4 and the previous films is that the plot does not seem like an excuse to get to the next action set piece like in the first two movies, yet is not overly complicated when expanding on the lore of the series like in John Wick: Chapter 3. There is even a significant amount of symbolism behind the plot in that the movie represents John Wick’s journey through hell. This can be seen right as the movie begins when Laurence Fishburne’s character quotes Dante’s Inferno as John Wick trains in one of the best opening scenes of the franchise. Likewise, near the climax of the movie, John Wick has to fight his way up dozens of flights of stairs, only to fall down all of them in an extremely long take. This could represent the stairway to Heaven, or it could even be alluding to the myth of Sisyphus.  

In addition, the characters in this movie are very well-written. From the beginning of the series, John Wick is compared to an unstoppable force of nature and is regarded as one of the coolest action heroes of the decade. However, the antagonists are two of my favorite characters in the entire series. Played by Bill Skarsgard, the same actor who played Pennywise in the movie It, the Marquis De Gramont is not seen as being particularly physically intimidating, yet has several really well-done monologues that demonstrate how much power the main antagonist has.  Then there is the character Caine, who is part of the best action sequences of the movie due to the fact that he is blind, yet extremely talented in combat. This creates a similar vibe as movies like A Quiet Place, as John Wick tries to be as quiet as possible when fighting him. The character also has an added bit of nuance as Caine is coerced into killing John Wick, despite them being friends. In every scene they share together, they have a sense of mutual respect for each other, yet are forced to fight each other anyway.  

Then, of course, there are the action scenes, which make up a near majority of the movie’s two-hour and 49-minute runtime. For instance, there is a battle in a hotel, consisting of four or five different action scenes back to back, that lasts for a total of over 30 minutes. However, unlike John Wick: Chapter 3, it never felt overdone, as each scene throughout the movie felt significantly different not just from the previous scenes, but also from any other action movie. The action scenes in the movie often utilize the environment in creative ways. For instance, in one scene, John Wick fights dozens of assassins around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and they have to dodge oncoming traffic while fighting. I would not be surprised if this movie is nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars, despite the Oscars not often recognizing many action movies. There are countless stunning shots in the movie, whether they be action sequences or even dialogue scenes. One of the best shots of the movie is a long take that gives an overhead view of a close-quarters fight, allowing the viewer to see everything that is going on, as opposed to other action movies that edit quick shots and shaky cam, which is often rather disorienting. The movie is able to do this because Keanu Reeves does all of his stunts, despite being 58 years old.  

Coming into the movie, although the movie trailer was really good, I was not expecting anything particularly amazing. John Wick 3 was just fine and a passable movie, yet it was clearly the worst of the series, Keanu Reeves was getting up there in age, and this sort of action movie has been done plenty of times within the past few years. Yet, this movie is by far the best movie of the year up to this point, and arguably the best of the series. It has so far raked in over $350 million and that number is likely to rise as the movie is still in theaters. Whether or not this is the last movie of the John Wick series is up for debate. Although the movie provided a satisfying conclusion and there is the aforementioned age of Keanu Reeves to take into account, the success of the movie could push some corporate executives to make another. Regardless, John Wick: Chapter 4 was a brilliant installment in one of the greatest action franchises of all time.