Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: Bloody violence, cruelty & offensive language
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Donnie Yen as Caine
Bill Skarsgård as the Marquis Vincent de Gramont
Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King
Hiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu Koji
Shamier Anderson as Mr. Nobody/The Tracker
Lance Reddick as Charon
Rina Sawayama as Akira
Scott Adkins as Killa Harkan
Ian McShane as Winston Scott
Director: Chad Stahelski
With the price on his head ever increasing, legendary hit man John Wick takes his fight against the High Table global as he seeks out the most powerful players in the underworld, from New York to Paris to Japan to Berlin.
John Wick: Chapter 4 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2023. John Wick franchise really had an interesting journey. The first film released back in 2014, and people at the time didn’t really expect it to be good, but it became something of a cult hit. With its next sequels it quickly became one of the most notable action franchises of recent years, with each entry somewhat surpassing the previous movie in some way. As someone who loves the John Wick movies, I was really looking forward to how the fourth movie would be, and I have to say that John Wick Chapter 4 isn’t only the best movie in the series, but also one of the best action movies of recent years.
Chapter 4 is unsurprisingly even larger than the previous three films. There’s even more worldbuilding, the scope and scale expands with more locations, a large array of memorable supporting characters, and also a higher body count. It is also a very long movie at 2 hours and 50 minutes, and while I know this will be a turn off for people, I thought it worked really well. In spite of the many action set pieces, the plot takes its time, which helps considering a lot happens across its runtime. It doesn’t wear out its welcome and it never felt boring to me. It’s also the funniest John Wick movie, from the one-liners, to Charlie Chaplin levels of physical comedy. At the same time the story is pretty good and one that I was invested in, even if much of it is stringing one action set piece to another. It is a personal story for John Wick, and touches on themes of loss, regret, and vengeance. It is enjoyably campy and silly without getting self-conscious or snarky, but also is told with a sincerity which helped me get on board with it from beginning to end. There are even some moments that particularly bring the emotions. Then it all builds to a giant climax which is just action perfection, one of the best third acts I’ve ever seen for an action film.
The cast here are great, in fact it’s probably the best collection of actors in all the four movies. Over the past near decade, Keanu Reeves has made John Wick one of his al- time iconic roles. There has been a real natural progression to Wick’s story during these four movies; his journey is well thought out and I particularly like the places that it goes in this movie. This character may be a man of few words, but Reeves conveys so many feelings and emotions in small subtle ways and through his line deliveries. Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and the late Lance Reddick reprise their respective roles and reliably deliver strong performances. The new cast and characters are great and memorable too. Hiroyuki Sanada as usual is a great presence whenever he’s on screen, and Rina Sawayama is really good in her debut performance, especially with the action. Bill Skarsgard is entertaining and effortlessly hateable as the central villain, one of the better antagonists in the series. This movie has many people after John Wick, but there’s a couple that get the most attention; as a mysterious tracker with a dog, Shamier Anderson is really good and adds a unique presence, and Donnie Yen is amazing and might’ve been the standout to me. As blind assassin Caine, Yen’s action scenes are very entertaining, and I loved the scenes, dynamic and interactions between him and Wick. Scott Adkins dons a fat suit and prosthetics to deliver an unrecognisable and scene scenestealing performance, he’s very entertaining in his scenes. Other supporting actors like Clancy Brown and Natalia Tena also bring it to their scenes.
Chad Stahelski has been showing himself as one of the best action directors working today with the John Wick movies, and with every film, he somehow tops what he did before. Everything feels grand and epic, and its fantastically put together. The cinematography is outstanding, with fantastic lighting and composition, and the production design is excellent as always. The highlights of these movies however are the action, and they did not disappoint here. There are some incredible set pieces, the fights are so well choreographed and have excellent stuntwork. The action ranges from silly and slapstick to absolutely brutal (unsurprisingly). I don’t want to spoil the sequences as they are best experienced for yourself, but there’s plenty of variety to make each one feel fresh. It also does a good job avoiding making Wick feel invincible and easily plowing through enemies, as he is put up against harder odds. The third act is just pure masterful action, with stellar set piece after stellar action set piece, all of them thrilling, intense and entertaining. The score from Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard is solid and adds to the action scene, and even to the quieter moments.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is highly satisfying and entertaining, beautifully directed with fantastic set pieces, and with memorable characters and performances. It’s impressive on all fronts, one of the best action movies of recent years, and already my favourite movie of the year.