Plot via IMDB:
John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
John Wick: Chapter Four like its predecessors is an endless kinetic display of blood letting, beautifully filmed and executed fight scenes, mythic talking mixed with revenge oaths. In other words it has all the elements that made the other three a testosterone delight.
John Wick exists only to be a death machine for the well deserving. If he didn’t piss people off or be pissed off by others there would be no movie. Supposedly he is doing all this mayhem for his wife and dead dog. Now he’s doing it for his freedom from The High Table cartel, an international criminal organization with its super deluxe Hotel Continental brand. There is a featured dog, but it belongs to another assassin.
Keanu Reeves has modeled his John Wick character squarely in the laconic Clint Eastwood western style. He never appears to be acting, just talking slowly, deliberately and with either great nuance or tongue in cheek.
The High Table is a devil’s Vatican. It has its own sacred rituals that must be honored, and quasi religious mythology and lexicon. Wick is officially “excommunicado” because he killed a few of them, and can only gain his freedom by killing more of them higher up the organization than he is. This kind of nonsense philosophy is the placeholder the Wick writers and its sole director, Chad Stahelski, a former Reeves stunt double, hang the movies on. It allows the Wick-verse to be all things to all people.
Stahelski knows how to beautifully show off bodies moving through this filmic space. He uses the long shot frequently to show off the fight choreography. Reeves famously models his fight moves on Fred Astaire. They are objects of moving art that can only be appreciated by being shown long and wide. It also emphasizes the mortality and humanity of Wick himself as he is bloodied and brutalized. He is the series Jesus.
Chapter Four is long but it never seems slow. It moves from fight to fight giving enough pause in between to admire the choreography, sets and the cinematography. The returning cast of Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick (who recently passed away) and Ian McShane know their roles well and deliver the required arch delivery and seriousness. The new dog, actually an ensemble of four different German Shepherds, delivers solid stunt support and the cutes, especially when they are attacking villainous testicles on command or performing the most amazing car parkour ever caught on film.
There are new faces, among them cautious friendlies (Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama), sympathetic combatants (Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson) and another filthy-rich villain (Bill Skarsgard), a Euro-trashy baddie with bespoke glittery suits and a taste for torture and classical music. The series has expanded its New York-centric geographical coordinates, and while it jumps to the Middle East, Japan and Europe, it continues to stick close to its circumscribed template.
Chapter Four is a reassuringly ordered world- never more so than in its violence. In Wick World it’s pure, eye-popping, body-shaking, transporting entertainment. Besides, it has a good beat and you can dance to it.
John Wick: Chapter Four gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
- Shay Hatten
- Michael Finch
by Derek Kolstad
- Basil Iwanyk
- Erica Lee
- Chad Stahelski
- Keanu Reeves
- Donnie Yen
- Bill Skarsgård
- Laurence Fishburne
- Hiroyuki Sanada
- Shamier Anderson
- Lance Reddick
- Rina Sawayama
- Scott Adkins
- Ian McShane
- Tyler Bates
- Joel J. Richard
- March 6, 2023(London)
- March 24, 2023(United States)