Is it an orgy of violence? Yes, but it’s not JUST an orgy of violence. It is ballet.
John Wick Chapter 4 has battle scenes you will remember forever. The grace and skill of the actors. The choreography of the stunt teams. The filmmaking techniques and skills that make you wonder what is real and what is the work of special effects crews.
The result of these talents is one of the greatest action movies ever made. Best not to wonder “how did they do that” but instead just let the tale unfold and enjoy the ride.
Keanu Reeves as the taciturn Wick leads a gallery of memorable characters. Caine (Donnie Yen) is a blind man who leans on his other senses to employ formidable killing skills. An enormous man with gold teeth called Killa (Scott Adkins in a fat suit) deals a fateful poker hand before engaging Wick in a chase through a crowded Paris dance club. Sadistic bad guy the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård) dresses nice but with a wicked smirk sets into motion the mission to eliminate Wick.
Back from previous Wick films are Winston “the manager” (Ian McShane), Charon (Lance Reddick who, sadly, just died at age 60 on March 17) and the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne).
John Wick Chapter 4 has a story, centered around scads of people looking to kill John Wick. But the real hooks of this film are the one-on-one and one-vs-many battle scenes with combatants using guns, knives, axes, swords, nunchucks, fists, cars and other means of offing opponents.
Director Chad Stahelski who also helmed the first three Wick flicks is back in the driver’s seat, this time bringing a bigger Wick. Nearly three hours long! (2:49 officially.) But you will not be checking the time once the show kicks off. It opens with a Western flavor as John Wick mounts a sturdy steed and pursues three horsemen across a sandy desert before confronting the Elder (George Georgiou).
The John Wick universe with the High Table and its rules and protocols is an interesting setup. Yes, they try to terminate with extreme prejudice but they have a modicum of respect for one another.
Among the more memorable sequences in this new film is the overhead shot via drone of a battle inside a residence with activity moving from room to room. A chase that runs through traffic on the Arch de Triumph roundabout in Paris is mind-blowing. A battle in the Continental Hotel in Osaka gets Caine into the film’s early action.
Could the action sequences help lead to an Oscar category for the stunt performers? Director Stahleski (who has a stunt background) said in a recent interview: “We (the stunt community) want to be recognized because we’re one of the 11 main departments. We’re in every fucking trailer. Most movies are sold on what we do.”
Is this the final John Wick story? Keanu is only 58 and is in excellent physical shape. To close the door on this iconic character now would be folly. In a year or so, after Chapter 4 has played out its run, keep your ears open for news about more John Wick.