In the fourth installment of the John Wick franchise, our favorite dog-loving protagonist (Keanu Reeves) continues his crusade against the High Table, now represented by the Frenchman Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard).
The Beardict: 9/10. John Wick: Chapter 4 is simply one of the best action films in recent years. An anti-slow burn movie, its scenes are almost always adrenaline-filled, further emphasized by the creative camera angles used. Although it boasts a near three-hour runtime, viewers won’t notice it all as subtle comedy is inserted from time to time to keep the atmosphere from becoming too serious. Most importantly, this chapter introduces a dog who is literally the MVP.
TL;DR version – this movie is worth watching in the cinemas. I identify 8 reasons why this is the case:
*minor spoilers ahead*
#1 The fight scenes are masterful and creative. There’s no going around it. Action in this film is so well-done that it can be considered art. There is so much going on–shoot’em ups, car cashes, sword fights, dueling, and even sumo wrestling–and yet the variety doesn’t feel forced. Characters get tired and yet they are able to do impossible feats nonetheless (but in a realistic, non-superhero way). Sounds are super crunchy and violence is precise and non-gratuitous.
#2 Keanu Reeves is the man. He is the one and only John Wick, and his dedication to the craft is on full display here. Even though he doesn’t say much at all (except the occassional “Yeah”), we can see the intensity in his eyes. The Matrix’s Neo is iconic, but John Wick is something else entirely. The fact that these two characters are both played by Reeves truly makes him a bonafide action star.
#3 The interesting cast of characters – both old and new. John Wick is back with his old crew: Manager Winston (Ian McShane), his faithful concierge Charon (Lance Reddick – RIP) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). He faces off against a host of new enemies led by the Marquis (Bill Skarsgard of Pennywise fame drops the makeup here to play a different type of monster). We also see a relentless antagonist in Caine (Donnie Yen), who is so badass but can very well pass off as an MCU variant for Daredevil/Matt Murdock, and Killa (Scott Adkins), a grotesque underground boss who refuses to die. Of course, we get a wild card in Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson – who Wynonna Earp fans would know as Agent Dolls).
#4 There’s some good world building done. The John Wick movies have shown that assassins have their own code, real estate, economy, and hierarchy. Chapter 4 shows how the High Table has near control over everything in the system, and has presence in the USA, Europe, Middle East, and Asia (the different settings, languages spoken, and weaponry used all contribute to this image). This is why Mr. Wick is fighting an uphill battle.
#5 The action is prevalent, but the dialogue pulls its weight too. Many action films fall into the trap of not having good scripts. This is not the case for John Wick 4. Since Keanu Reeves reportedly utters only 380 words in the entire film, his supporting cast does most of the work in this department. From classic quotes like “How you do anything is how you do everything” to pointed ones such as “second chances are the refuge of men who failed” and “friendship means little when it’s convenient,” we get treated to nuggets of wisdom along the way.
#6 The new dog is just MVP material. The first John Wick started with a dog, and it’s only fitting that there’s a canine presence in each and every movie that came after. In this one, we get a skillful Belgian Malinois that is just amazing and vital to the storyline. Because of his presence, we get the most violent dog movie of all time.
#7 The film has a cool video game vibe to it. Maybe it’s the music, or the hoards of enemies and boss fights, but John Wick 4 sometimes feels like an immersive third-person shooter experience. This becomes more pronounced during scenes when all hell breaks loose but the “non-playable characters” around John and his assailants still go about their business like nothing’s happening and blood is not spilling everywhere. Haha.
#8 The franchise is only growing stronger. It’s quite hard for franchise sequels when their initial movie is a roaring success. However, for John Wick, each movie just builds onto what its predecessor has accomplished and ups the ante each and every time. The hype keeps on going, so much so that John Wick has evolved into a cinematic universe. The spin-off Ballerina (2024) will focus on revenge-filled Rooney (Ana de Armas), while the limited series The Continental (2023) will explore the chain of hotels that serve as havens for the world’s colorful assassins. Lastly, John Wick 5 has not been ruled out yet, so there are absolutely many reasons to stay updated with the John Wick-verse.
Truly, John Wick 4 sets a new bar in terms of what Hollywood can do with an action film.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Films. John Wick: Chapter 4, now showing in cinemas near you!