Keanu Reeves takes on an army of assassins in the latest thrilling installment of the John Wick series
Another sequel you ask? Surely there’s only so many ways we can watch Keanu shoot someone in the face before it gets boring? The answer is hell no, with stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski’s fourth entry into the John Wick series proving to be the most enjoyable since 2014’s cult hit original spawned a 500 million dollar success story.
The end of John Wick 3: Parabellum saw the reformed hitman double-crossed by close friend Winston (Ian McShane) after waging a one man war on the shadowy governing body of assassins – the High Table. As we join Chapter 4 John is still trying to take them down whilst leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, as High Table boss the flamboyant Marquis (Bill Skarsgard) sends his top fighters after him.
McShane, Laurence Fishburne and the late, great Lance Reddick all return from previous installments, while Chapter 4 introduces new characters played by Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Shamier Anderson and legendary martial arts star Donnie Yen.
It’s a tried and tested formula with Chapter 4 containing all the elements that fans have come to love about the John Wick series. A mix of career martial artists and Hollywood actors deliver bone crunching fight sequences against a backdrop of glamorous global locations whilst the camera catches everything in minute, stylishly choreographed detail (no shakycam or quick cuts to hide dodgy fight scenes here.) And fear not dog lovers – there’s a cute canine in this one too.
John Wick Chapter 4 flicks along at a remarkable pace, somehow preventing it’s audience from feeling it’s near 3 hour run time. Where enormous set pieces including a near 40 minute fight up the steps of Paris’ Sacre Couer run comically long, it’s not without a sense of humour – the film managing to squeeze in several laugh out loud moments at the sheer tongue in cheek over the top-ness of it all. Keanu bafflingly delivers much of his (few) lines in the exact same tone as if he was in Bill and Ted – but hey, he knows we’re not here for the dialogue.
Like the rest of the series the latest John Wick requires a serious suspension of disbelief as Reeve’s magical bullet proof suit protects him not just from guns but seemingly blunt force trauma too (seriously, he’s hit by a car or falls off a building pretty much every 2 minutes, all without injury.)
Writer Derek Kolstad’s worldbuilding spins wildly out of control as we leave the Continental Hotel (still a ridiculously cool concept) and move to the Continent, where everyone; absolutely everyone, is a highly trained assassin. (There’s apparently no normal people in Paris, and literally no law enforcement interested in stopping the gallons of bloodshed infront of national monuments.)
But it’s just all done so well that you can’t seem to care – and who’s coming to bombastic action movies for a dose of reality anyway? The fight choreography is breathtakingly impressive, likely to have you gasping and wincing at the brutality and creativity of some of the blows.
There’s the attention to detail we’ve come to love from the franchise as John counts every bullet and double taps every baddie – leaving you to believe he really is the deadliest man on earth. The only bit I struggled to believe from the brief was the notion that Keanu Reeves would ever beat Donnie Yen in a fight – so they went ahead and made Yen’s character Caine blind just to even the match.
For all the elements that can easily be dismissed as campy, there’s no doubting that John Wick: Chapter 4 is a solid gold piece of entertainment. Easily the best entry since the original, John Wick sits alongside Mission Impossible as the best action franchise in production right now.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is out in cinemas on 24th March 2023