The word “Damn” occupying a white background entirely in isolation would be a perfectly acceptable and rational review for “John Wick: Chapter 4”.
Three movies into one of the greatest action movie franchises of all time, Chad Stahelski, Keanu Reeves, and the cast and crew of “John Wick: Chapter 4” have worked their magic again to ridiculously incredible heights.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” tops the entire franchise by a mile and a half, which is saying a lot with the standards of its three predecessors, but that doesn’t come anywhere near doing it justice. “John Wick: Chapter 4” is, without a sliver of a doubt, one of the best action movies ever made.
Keanu Reeves is back in action as the legendary Baba Yaga, John Wick, while Donnie Yen joins the franchise as his old friend Caine. Ian McShane and Lance Reddick (R.I.P.) return as John’s friends from the New York City Continental, Winston and Charon, with Laurence Fishburne also back as the Bowery King.
Bill Skarsgard also plays the villainous Marquis de Gramont, with Clancy Brown portraying the Harbinger and Shamier Anderson playing the Tracker.
Scott Adkins also makes a very memorable appearance as Killa, with Marko Zaror playing Chidi, while Hiroyuki Sanada plays the Osaka Continental’s manager Shimazu Koji with Rina Sawayama playing his daughter, Akira.
After both were burned by the High Table in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, John Wick and the Bowery King unite for their vengeance, with John tracking down and assassinating the Elder.
This causes a ripple effect in the assassin underworld, with the New York Continental being destroyed and its manager Winston declared Excommunicado. The Marquis de Gramont also puts a hit out on John, and blackmails his old friend and retired assassin Caine to take out John under threat of his daughter’s execution.
With John on the run once more, he and Winston meet again and determine the best course of action is John partaking in a High Table duel for his freedom, but getting to that point will be far from easy.
Where Do We Start With “John Wick: Chapter 4”?
In an interview with Total Film, Keanu Reeves described “John Wick: Chapter 4” as “banana cakes” in the scope of its action and stunts.
To say he wasn’t kidding would be an understatement, and frankly, any other term other than the one offered by the Baba Yaga himself might qualify as a disservice to the sheer insane levels of action “John Wick: Chapter 4” has on offer.
The “John Wick” movies have consistently topped each other, but “Chapter 4” plays like every preceding “John Wick” movie rolled into one and then some. While it holds off on kicking into high gear for longer than “Parabellum” did, “Chapter 4” is a category five hurricane when it finally unleashes everything its got.
The Gun-fu of the “John Wick” franchise has long been one of its calling cards, and “Chapter 4” dials it up like never before. The ballet of bullets in every gun-fu battle is just astonishing, and Chad Staheski really takes the safety catch off at two key points in the movie.
John breaks out his gun-fu prowess first in the veritable war that erupts at the Osaka Continental, with plenty of swords, kicks, and nunchakus working in tandem with it.
“Chapter 4” later bookends its gun fu glory with a bullet ballet in an abandoned hotel in Paris that reaches “Hard Boiled”-levels of heroic bloodshed. Indeed, how could it not when much of it is captured through two birds-eye view oner shots that let the audience bask in every last explosive muzzle flare like the best RPG literally firing on all cylinders?
Stunts, Fights, and Action Galore
The stunts and martial arts fights in “John Wick: Chapter 4” are not just a sight to behold, but a historic one.
We believe that Jackie Chan himself circa “Police Story” would undoubtedly watch in mesmerized, spell-bound awe at such action sequences as John battling Chidi and other assassins in front of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe with cars speeding all around them. Bruce Lee would probably do the same as Keanu Reeves’ incredible nunchaku expertise against waves of enemies in the aforementioned Osaka Continental battle.
With swords, spinning kicks, jiu-jitsu maneuvers, and all manner of combat thrown into every action scene, “Chapter 4” is simply nuclear in it’s the level of perpetual motion it sustains once it gets going. Keanu Reeves deserves to forever be lionized by action fans for his portrayal of John Wick, but “John Wick: Chapter 4” is far from a one man show.
John Wick’s Co-Stars Are All Breakout Characters
Lovers of action thrilled to the news that Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Marko Zaror were all joining “John Wick: Chapter 4”, and not one of them shows up on-screen without blowing the audience’s expectations out of the water.
Scott steals the middle section of the movie in both a purple suit and a fat suit in possibly his hammiest performance ever as the German criminal overlord Killa, getting in a fight scene with John that is as unique as it is powerful, and will surely be remembered as one of Scott’s most one-of-a-kind roles.
Marko’s agility and swift kicks are also as impressive as ever, while Hiroyuki Sanada brings on his immaculate blade mastery to defend the Osaka Continental at all costs.
Donnie Yen’s Blind Assassin, Caine is the Man of the Hour
When it comes to supporting characters, Donnie Yen’s blind assassin Caine, is the man of the hour (or rather, of the three hours) in “John Wick: Chapter 4”. Wielding his walking stick as both staff and blade, Donnie also brings some of his hallmark kicks and punches from both “In The Line of Duty IV” and the Ip Man movies to his fight scenes as Caine.
Make no mistake, you WILL want a Caine-centric spin-off by the end of “Chapter 4”, most especially after John and Caine’s shared battle up an outdoor set of stairs that logs a wince of “ooohh” moments roughly every two to three seconds.
Shamier Anderson also makes a fantastic impression as the Tracker assigned to find John, employing a German shepherd with a wolves’ bite as his ally and a skill with firearms that rivals John’s own. Shimazu’s daughter Akira is also another in the long line of the breakout characters of “Chapter 4”, wielding a blade with the same Samurai-level accuracy and precision as her father in the Osaka battle to chop down one opponent after another like a tree.
John Wick Franchise Now at a Crossroads
Undoubtedly, the ending of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is one that most viewers will not see coming, and to reveal any overt details here would do it a disservice.
Suffice it to say that in the Old West-style finale of “John Wick: Chapter 4”, the John Wick franchise will never be the same again. And “Chapter 4” still concludes in a way that feels both natural from where the story began in the first “John Wick”, and still wholly surprising enough to hit with the level of emotional impact that it does.
For action fans and lovers of the “John Wick” franchise, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is, in a word, paradise.
Keanu Reeves and everyone else involved don’t throw everything and the kitchen into “Chapter 4”, but an entire neighborhood’s worth of kitchen sinks into the best tale the Baba Yaga has ever told.
Where the “John Wick” universe continues from here is quite a lot to ponder, though “The Continental” series and “Ballerina” spin-offs do give some idea of the franchise’s future.
In any case, the “John Wick” franchise has thrown down the gauntlet with “John Wick: Chapter 4” – this is THE standard to meet, all who follow from here!
- “What you were so good at getting, Jonathan – revenge” – Winston (when John asks him what he has to gain from John’s mission.)
- “Just have fun out there.” – Winston (to John.)
- “But I can hit you, motherf***er.” – Caine (Chidi after being told he can’t shoot him.)
- “You hit my puppy.” – Tracker (before shooting an unfortunate enemy of his who attacked his dog.)
KFK would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Lance Reddick, who tragically passed away just one week before the release of “John Wick: Chapter 4”. Mr. Reddick will forever be remembered for his exceptional performances in his long career, including as Charon in the John Wick franchise, including by KFK. R.I.P., Mr. Reddick.
- “John Wick: Chapter 4” was originally slated to be released on May, 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic and Keanu Reeves’ subsequent scheduling issues with “The Matrix Resurrections” resulting from the pandemic’s complications led to it being pushed back to May, 2022. It was then later moved again to March 24, 2023.
- Chad Stahelski has said 1979’s “The Warriors” is a major influence on the film.
- In an interview with GQ, Donnie Yen revealed that his character Caine was originally named “Shang or Chang”, and that he also wore mandarin collars, but he felt that this was perpetuating stereotypical portrayals of Asians on film. This led to he and Chad Stahelski renaming the character Caine and reworking other aspects of his wardrobe and character.
- Scott Adkins had previously talked to Chad Stahelski about being in John Wick: Chapter 2 and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but was unable to make it due to scheduling conflicts.