John Wick: Chapter 4 review: The crowning achievement of the franchise

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close
Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close /

This review of the film John Wick: Chapter 4 does not contain spoilers.

Do you remember when only John Wick was about avenging his beloved dog? A simple revenge-fueled fantasy that anyone, including both sides of the political aisle, could agree on and, at the very least, condone. That poor little beagle and a son-of-a-gun named Iosef Tarasov were responsible for popping the lid off a backstory of epic, graphic novel-level proportions.

Nearly a decade later, John Wick: Chapter 4 is what I still describe as the martial arts Western trapped inside a fluorescent-colored neo-noir we have come to know and love. The legendary Keanu Reeves franchise has reached mythical proportions with this latest installment. Credit that to some of the most jaw-dropping stunts ever filmed.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is a worthy addition to the franchise

The story picks up with John Wick (Reeves) meeting with the elder after pulling off an Indiana Jones by riding a fine-looking Arabian across a gorgeous-looking Moroccan desert. His actions led to his most trusted allies’ lives and livelihoods being in terminal danger.

In particular, Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (the late Lance Reddick, in one of his final roles) are told to shut down The New York Continental Hotel via a harbinger. A high-ranking High Table operative named Harbinger (Clancy Brown). They have one hour to close down the hostel of assassins. They then must meet with Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård). He is a managing Chief Operating Officer of the Hight Table brand.

That’s the carrot, so here is the stick. Marquis is a sniveling spoiled COO who mistakes his worth as equal to his ambition. He overplays his hand with Winston and Charon. He blackmails Caine (a phenomenal Donnie Yen) into bringing his old friend John back, dead and not alive. This causes ripple effects across the Wick-verse. That’s because Caine must attack another old friend and brother-in-arms, Shimazu Koji (Bullet Train’s Hiroyuki Sanada), and his concierge daughter, Akira (Rina Sawayama). The Osaka Continental Hotel manager lives by a code that even Omar Little couldn’t live up to. All this adds up to the man in black having to survive relentless waves of attacks to dismantle the head of the High Table. Why? To gain his freedom and maybe finally nap with both eyes closed.

Director (and former stuntman) Charles Stahelski’s fourth movie in the John Wick franchise is not so much plot-driven as it is an extension of the previous third chapter. And with that, you have an eye-opening running time of just below three hours. However, at least four action sequences last a minimum of 25 minutes. These scenes are simply spectacular to watch and utterly immersive from beginning to end. The intoxicating combination of stunt-driven action and supporting special effects is an overdrive to the senses.

Much of that credit should go to stunt coordinator Stephen Dunlevy and cinematographer Dan Laustsen. Both find new and incredible ways to make these action sequences fresh again. From a mind-blowing hotel siege, an evocative overhead view of Wick taking out a squad with a Dracarys Gen-12 gun, to a surprising amount of wit trying to fight his way up a staircase. If there was ever a move to inspire the Academy to have a Stunt category, this is it. That, and the fact that the fourth installment has the best “crossing a busy section of traffic” scene since Bowfinger. I say this half in jest but trust me. It’s a dark comic adrenaline rush.

However, let’s not end this review until we discuss Keanu Reeves. One of the nicest, most genuine Hollywood stars we truly may not deserve. Reeves has constantly reinvented himself over the years. The actor has gone to John Travolta-like lengths, making a comeback after comeback. Finding another franchise, he has helmed in a physically demanding role that very few people could drive for a decade, consistently delivering on its promise. Say what you want about the Hawaiian Soft Breeze. No one takes more risks with such a wide range of results. The John Wick franchise is a testament to his ability to follow his path and control his career how he sees fit.

Why is John Wick: Chapter 4 good?

I won’t go into much more detail to avoid spoilers for fans. However, I will say John Wick: Chapter 4 is the crowning achievement in director Charles Stahelski’s fluorescent-colored neo-noir martial arts western opus—one of the most awe-inspiring stunt-driven movies you’ll ever be fortunate to see. If there was debate before, there shouldn’t be now. The fourth chapter of John Wick has put a stamp on the greatest action franchise ever made.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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What did you think of John Wick: Chapter 4? Comment below. You can watch this film now only in theaters.