One of the ‘biggest’, most relentless and stylish action films ever put to screen.
BY JACK RANSOM MARCH 21, 2023
The fourth instalment of what is quite simply the peak action franchise of the 21st century. John Wick: Chapter 4 sees John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy (Bill Skarsgård) with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.
It is extremely rare for a film series to keep getting better and better as it progresses (the only real example I can think of off the top of my head is Mission: Impossible post M:I 3), so despite my level of anticipation to see Mr. Wick return to the big screen, there was always the looming question of: how do they top Parabellum. Somehow, Stahelski and co. not only achieve this, but also craft quite simply one of the ‘biggest’, most relentless and stylish action films ever put to screen.
Clocking in at a mammoth 2 hours 50 minutes, was always going to be a risk, especially in such an action heavy picture. However, the sheer scope and grandeur of John’s quest quickly establishes that this runtime is necessary. Layers of the High Table onion are peeled even further, we tour New York, Tokyo, Berlin and Paris as John is hounded relentlessly by Marquis’ (Skarsgård) forces. The film is in a constant state of forward motion, we the viewers follow John every step of the way and like him, barely get a chance to catch our breath.
I guarantee that NOTHING this year will come close to topping the sheer level of jaw-dropping skill, thrills and general awesomeness of the ‘race for sunrise’ third act sequence that laughs in the face of any naysayer that questioned how the stakes and creativity could be upped. Truly masterful stuff. We also get bows and arrows vs. guns vs. swords, an assault on the senses of a club brawl and plenty of stylistic switch ups to the combat thanks to new inclusions to the cast that bring their own flair to the proceedings. The smatterings of slapstick and schlock shine through, with plenty of genuinely laugh out loud and cheer worthy satisfying moments. The bigger budget and scale, allows for the cinematography, production design and phenomenal sound (seriously it was absolutely thunderous erupting from the IMAX screen) to be bolstered and absolutely cement this as a technical behemoth.
No-one can play this role but Keanu. His deadpan flourishes to the line delivery, sheer level of dedication and skill when it comes to the stunt work, as well as the palpable simultaneous encapsulation of complete exhaustion as well as never giving up. There are host of welcome additions to the series here: Donnie Yen’s Caine (or the ‘Blind Man’), is a deadly, whip smart and ruthless adversary, who Yen brings so much to when it comes to presenting the character’s ailment in combat. Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis is a slimy, arrogant and smarmy presence, Shamier Anderson’s Tracker (or Mr. Nobody), brings an ice cold demeanour and a vicious four legged friend, Hiroyuki Sanada brings a subtle sense of wisdom and authority… as well as sword slashing aplenty, Scott Adkins hams it up as the cackling, man mountain that is Killa and old favourites Ian McShane, Lawrence Fishburne and the late great Lance Reddick all deliver as expected.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is an absolute triumph of action cinema that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Once again building upon the foundations laid down by its prior entries to craft a gargantuan and unpredictably deadly world. Everyone involved in the action sequences is working at the top of their game to the point where you will actually be questioning how some of what is on display is feasibly possible. Cannot wait to watch this again.