PG Score: 9.25/10
John Wick: Chapter 4 was released in theaters on 3/24/23
Director Chad Stahelski went for broke in the third entry of his bullet bonanza, and the result was an action-packed epic of astronomical proportions. In John Wick: Chapter 4, the maestro of mayhem somehow ups the ante even higher to deliver not only the best installment of the franchise but also the best action movie of the past decade.
This time around, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is at war with The High Table. Through strategic maneuvering and unlikely partnerships, he hopes to finally regain his freedom. But first, John must confront a powerful new adversary with countless resources at his disposal.
The wait for John Wick: Chapter 4 may have been extensive, but the three-hour thrill ride makes up for lost time and then some. The assassin of few words is back with a vengeance. His weapon of choice is still a handgun, but he uses anything and everything to send his many, many enemies to their graves. Swords, assault rifles, revolvers, shotguns, nunchucks, fists, muscle cars, and other more unconventional methods of inflicting grievous bodily harm are allotted considerable onscreen mileage. Stahelski harnesses the gun fu that his Wick worshippers have grown accustomed to, puts another round in the chamber, then empties an extra magazine for good measure. The fourth film blasts the doors off the hinges, and audiences will be delighted by the staggering production value evident in every single frame of the adrenaline-fueled achievement.
Stahelski's Keen Eye
Stahelski’s background as a stunt performer/coordinator continues to pay dividends in Chapter 4. The set pieces vary from large-scale, extended battles, featuring multiple character perspectives to more contained skirmishes, highlighted by several especially satisfying one-on-one matchups. Regardless of the size of the fight scene, the director’s attention to detail is astounding. Despite the substantial runtime, the gunplay never grows repetitive. Stahelski keeps it fresh by mixing in a massive arsenal and varied locations, all with distinct elements that contribute to the groundbreaking combat. Every projectile, katana strike, and close-quarters counter hits its target with resounding impact. The destruction is savage, but a certain beauty lies beneath each bullet, blade, and body.
Poetry in Motion
Even as Wick and the other merchants of death carve their way through hordes of henchmen, it is never simply violence for the sake of violence. The artistic prowess on display speaks to a degree of care rarely captured on camera. Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard’s gripping score, inventive camera angles (including an extraordinary overhead sequence), and diverse set design all factor into moviemaking magnificence. The ingenuity at the heart of the numerous bloodbaths is something that fans of the genre will cherish on a primal level. Lethality, brutality, and unpredictability coalesce in glorious harmony as a ballistic ballad for the ages is born.
Reeves once again does the vast majority of his own stunt work as the titular protagonist in brilliant fashion. The grueling training he completed was clearly time well spent as he pulls off one jaw-dropping feat after another. On top of his physical expertise as Mr. Wick, the leading man delivers his concise lines with utter conviction. No one puts more heat behind the word, “yeah” than Keanu Reeves.
There are plenty of new and familiar faces accompanying The Matrix veteran for the latest gathering of the gunslingers. A big blockbuster needs big names, and John Wick: Chapter 4 has them in spades. Clancy Brown, Bill Skarsgård, Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Natalia Tena and Shamier Anderson comprise the new cast members. While they are all worthy additions to the roster, a handful really shine. Yen is the most significant standout as he gifts viewers with a winning embodiment of the slick swordsman, Caine. His quick wit and martial arts mastery elevate him to a certified scene-stealer. Sawayama’s Akira is a powerhouse, and the Hollywood newcomer flawlessly depicts her killer composure. An unrecognizable Adkins is immensely entertaining in a role that needs to be seen to be believed. Finally, Skarsgård offers a chilling portrayal of the cold-blooded Marquis.
John Wick: Chapter 4 boasts a more compelling storyline than its predecessors, ripe with effective buildup and character development. The latter bears fruit for the welcome return of Ian McShane (Winston), Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King), and the late, great Lance Reddick (Charon). While the larger ensemble cast means reduced screen time, rest assured that the trio operates efficiently to establish further command over their respective roles.
Raising The Bar Once Again
John Wick is arguably the only series in the history of cinema that gets better with each film. The unparalleled choreography and creativity within the carnage provide a spectacle that comes along so seldomly, it is easy to question if it will ever be seen again. Then, like Baba Yaga himself, a fully-loaded force of nature rises to remind the world of its existence in the most emphatic manner possible. By improving in every area, the newest sequel takes the biggest leap yet. John Wick: Chapter 4 punches, kicks, stabs, shoots, and downright annihilates its way to claim its rightful place among the top action masterpieces of all time. Yeah…I’m thinking he's back.
PG Score: 9.25/10
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