Friday, March 24, 2023

John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4 has the same strengths and weaknesses of the earlier films. We get bloody, brutal, and at times spectacular, violence set against the backdrops of music video sets brought to life, which are dragged down at times by stretches of world building unnecessary for our enjoyment of the former. The fourth entry of the franchise plays at cross purposes with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) looking to work his way back into the life he abandoned for his wife in order to get out again. In terms of story, it's a bit of a mess. In terms of action, there are a couple of long sequences which fans will not doubt enjoy.

Several supporting characters from the earlier films return, including Lance Reddick who sadly passed away one week ago, but they are largely pushed aside in favor of new characters including old friends of Wick who wish to help (Hiroyuki Sanada) or harm (Donnie Yen) him. Yen's blind warrior is one of the more fun additions to the world who I wouldn't mind seeing more of.

Over the unnecessarily long 169-minute running time, we'll see The High Table install a new general of sorts (Bill SkarsgÄrd) in charge of hunting down John Wick. In similar fashion to earlier films, our Marquis (as he likes to be called) continues to raise the price on Wick's head while one new killer (Shamier Anderson) decides to help keep John alive at least until he feels the price raises high enough to be worth his time. It's an interesting idea, even if the arc of his character is all to easy to see play out.

The locations this time around are a bit more interesting. While we get a short trip back to the desert, and some time in New York, those are mainly to wrap up loose threads as Wick will spend much more time in Japan, Germany, and Paris this time around. Although a Chapter 5 has been discussed, John Wick: Chapter 4 could easily serve the end of the franchise. And if Reeves doesn't wish to return, the franchise could spin-off focusing on some of the other characters introduced over the films (well, those few that are still alive anyway).

In terms of ordering the films from best to worst, the original (with its much more straightforward revenge tale) continues to be the best of the bunch with the remaining chapters being more uneven and interchangeable. Chapter 4 doesn't get as muddled as Chapter 2 or Chapter 3, but its running time is a problem as it feels like excess for the sake of excess after awhile. John fighting his way through the streets of Paris is certainly memorable, even if it could easily be trimmed down (like so much of the plot), forcing me to rank it ahead of both Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: John Wick: Chapter 4
  • IMDb: link

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