Button your shirt, notch your tie, throw on your suit and get ready to run forth into the breach because Keanu Reeves returns as super-assassin John Wick, the ‘Baga Yaga’ himself, and he’s ready to wage a one-man war against his adversaries of the High Table in what can only be described as a ballet of bullets and maximum carnage. And John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the greatest experiences I can say I’ve ever had in a cinema.
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 with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into new foes.
In 2014 stuntman and action performer Chad Stahelski decided to try his hand at directing with a modestly budgeted action film called John Wick. And the very idea of action cinema would change forever. Bringing together a thrilling narrative, compelling and conflicted character, brash action, epic gun-fu combat, dazzling production design and just straight-up cinema cool. John Wick was something else and now 9 years later audiences are primed and ready for John Wick: Chapter 4. And this is a film that delivers everything you could want and more. A nearly three-hour epic of absolute action mayhem, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a globe-trotting adventure packed together with thrilling intensity as super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) sets out to end the High Table’s grip over him, with bullets and bodies quickly piling up.
What audiences witness in John Wick: Chapter 4 is a filmmaker in Chad Stahelski working at the top of his game and every facet of this production comes together. Narrative, character, world-building, costuming, and some of the craziest, most-insane action set pieces that will absolutely take your breath away are all present. Stahelski works with his most lavish canvas yet thanks to JW4 taking audiences from New York to Japan, Berlin to Paris, and it’s utterly explosive. The volume is cranked all the way up on JW4 and as he’s come to do Stahelski continues with his ‘action as narrative’ story mechanism which he has developed through his work with 87Eleven. From the moment this film starts audiences will be utterly flawed and thrown backwards in their seats, and the force of this picture doesn’t let up for a second.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is an utterly astounding visceral experience and much praise must be lauded to acclaimed cinematographer Dan Laustsen. Turning his camera lens to a sepia-focused colourway, John Wick: Chapter 4 is stylistic and slick, and in the darkness of the cinema you’re transported to the high stakes, faced-paced, all-or-nothing world of John Wick. Working in conjunction with production designer Kevin Kavanaugh and costume designer Paco Delgado, Stahelski and Laustsen give each location and set of characters their own identity, and this filters through the work. From the burning sepia oranges of the streets of Paris to the heightened purple neon of Osaka, to the grimy and fierce reds of Berlin, these visual singularities elevate the setting of the film. Production and costume design also have their part to play and JW4 is an extremely lux piece of cinema to behold.
Hollywood veteran Keanu Reeves is once again front and centre as John Wick. Regarded as an unkillable and strikingly deadly assassin who hunts his prey from the shadows, Wick has a bone to chew this time and god help those who want to see him put down. With a partnership that stretches back more than twenty years, Reeves and Stahelski have a fantastic working relationship and it shows through the performance that is delivered on screen. While Reeves has shown that he’s adept when it comes to the run and gun, JW4 delves deeper into his character, and more importantly his purpose as a man. Themes of loyalty, family and legacy run deep in JW4 and we find Wick at his most thoughtful, contemplative and aggressive as he wages an all-out war against the High Table. While he may have started off as a typical noir anti-hero, John Wick has developed into the single most interesting protagonist of modern action cinema and this is all down to Reeves and his layered and stoic performance.
It’s a who’s who of names this time for JW4. Leading the hunt for Wick is Bill Skarsgard as the Marquis de Gramont, the arrogant and caddish leader of the High Table whose sense of grand hubris puts him close to the fire; Donnie Yen makes a complete 360 turn as blind assassin Caine, whose deadly skills rival Wick’s and whose complexities and comedy will win audiences over; Hiroyuki Sanada bring a Samurai sense of gravitas and respect as Yuki Shimazu, and he shares a close bond with Wick; Shamier Anderson is the hot-shot up and comer known as the Tracker who sees Wick as his ticket to the big time; Clancy Brown brings a menacing and intimidating presence as the High Table’s judge, The Harbinger; Natalia Tena turns up the heat as feisty Russian gang lord Katia, the half-sister to Wick; and martial arts legend Scott Adkins is thoroughly unrecognisable and outright crazy in his performance as the maniacal Killa. Add in support from Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane and you’ve got something very special with JW4.
Be prepared because John Wick: Chapter 4 is a rush. Stahelski and his team of mad-genius stunt performers go all out with this fourth entry in the franchise and it makes for a manic watch. Prepare yourself for more guns, more blades, more explosions, more jujitsu and kickboxing and aikido and straight up smash mouth fight scenes, a scene where Reeves unleashes his inner Bruce Lee in a brutal nunchaku beatdown, gun-fu madness with bullets being sprayed all about, a very pissed off Belgian Malinois with serious bite and a car chase-fight scene shake up through the streets of Paris that makes for one hell of a final act. The action of JW4 is action as art, and this dance of pandemonium will make you sit up and take notice. JW4 is an example of the action genre transcending to high art. And it’s one hell of a watch. And if you manage to catch this one in IMAX, watch out, because it goes big on the BOOM.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the single greatest cinema experiences I’ve ever witnessed. It was an utter event, and from beginning to end I was totally enwrapped in its detail, intensity, passion and just sheer entertainment excellence. The cinema screen exists for a film like John Wick: Chapter 4 and it’s an experience you won’t forget.