John Wick 4 Movie Review: Keanu Reeves and Co go all guns blazing in this fantastic and fulfilling finale

John Wick 4 Movie Review: Keanu Reeves and Co go all guns blazing in this fantastic and fulfilling finale

The film gives us an unparalleled high of witnessing a true-blue action extravaganza, but it never forgets the beating heart at the core of it all
Rating:(4 / 5)

When we first meet John Wick in this latest chapter of the bloody action saga that has been making an appearance once almost every three years since 2014, he is the embodiment of the famous Bruce Lee quote — I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times. Over the past nine years, and four films, John Wick has survived despite being shot at hundreds of times, thrown off the terraces of high-rise buildings, hit by fast-moving automobiles of various kinds, rode on horses, starved in the gruelling heat of the desert, and yet managed to kill a few hundred assailants on his tail. By now, the audience is aware of the invincibility cloak that shrouds our man, who can never die. This time around, in John Wick: Chapter 4, even his assailants walk around with body armour and kevlar suits, and the killings just get bloodier and messier.

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Ian McShane

Director: Chad Stahelski

Trying to tell the story of John Wick is the most futile exercise in franchise history. Wick’s dog was killed in 2014, and since then, he has been on a killing rampage that has left the well-oiled machinery of the world’s criminal syndicate finding too many squeaks… I mean, yeaaahhhs. As always, Chapter 4 starts exactly where Chapter 3 left us, and we have John Wick, with the help of the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), finding a way to exact revenge on the Table. Unlike the last time when he starved his way to meet the Elder, John traipses on a horse, killing a few people, before finally bumping off the Elder to start a chain of events that includes the elevation of a new head at the Table —  Marquis Vincent de Gramont (A terrific Bill Skarsgard). From here on, as the action moves from New York to Paris to Osaka to New York to Berlin, and then finally…Paris again, it is one gorgeous action sequence after another, which becomes surprisingly more exquisite with each kill.

Honestly, it isn’t exactly right to feel exalted to see so much violence, and bloodshed, but then we aren’t really on this nine-year-long ride for the novelty of the story, right? It is all about the inquisitiveness to see how John Wick manages to fight his way out of trouble, this time. Every punch, every kick, every bullet fired, every sword slashed, and every nunchuck swayed has a way of giving us an adrenaline rush like no other. Watching John Wick is a visceral experience that is almost like playing a first-player video game. This aspect of the film is most pronounced in this chapter where the cinematography of Dan Laustsen accentuates it with so much pizzazz. Be it the long-winding pre-climactic action sequence set in a nondescript set of stairs leading to the Sacré-Cœur in Paris, the god’s view fight scene in a labyrinth-like mansion, the entire Osaka setpiece, which is just a magnificent experience, Chapter 4 is easily one of the most exquisitely shot action films.

It is evident that the makers didn’t just want to restrict the novelty of the film to its stunts. Every location is designed to deliver one of the most satisfying and unique experiences we have had in some time. Also, paragraphs could be ascribed to each of those carefully orchestrated action sequences and the way the cinematography and sound design are used to make John Wick Chapter 4 the most fulfilling film in this franchise. Just like the stunts, the films too have got exponentially better, and point to the makers for not trying to milk the cash cow a bit too long. Despite Parabellum giving us side characters that are going on to become standalone characters in future films, it is impressive how Chapter 4 doesn’t really bring them back into the fold. It is a fantastic writing choice that deeply respects the narrative that has been going on steadfastly linear for almost a decade.

Of course, Chapter 4 brings in new characters like John Wick’s fellow ruthless killer Caine (a supremely effective Donnie), a bounty hunter called Mr Nobody (Shamier Anderson) and his dog. Their presence adds a sense of grounding to the film and John Wick, as we see our kevlar-sporting superhero who bleeds being vulnerable in front of them. The presence of Winston (Ian McShane) and his reason for exacting revenge on Gramont is sobering and is another reason why the John Wick franchise works so well. You see, it is not just about the mindblowing stunts, but the heartwarming emotional core. A dog here, a son there, and a friend somewhere else… every revenge-fuelled murderous rampage is fuelled by loss, longing, and love.

There is no doubt that a runtime of almost 180 minutes is a concern for any film nowadays, and John Wick Chapter 4 is no different. The action sequences, although beautifully staged and expertly executed, have the potential to become tedious. But what actually becomes tough to navigate are the fillers between these action sequences. The dialogues are not always profound, but it is razor sharp when they are. Winston’s one-liners are as punchy as Wick’s one-words, and the Bowery King, as always, walks away with the best-delivered dialogues of the film.

Honestly, one can’t blame people who scoff at how John Wick can kill almost 100 people, burn down a house, jump through a glass window, fall on a car, dent its hood, find ground on a concrete floor, and finally shrug it all away before facing hundred more assailants. There is only so much the body can take, and no amount of Kevlar can take in so much battery. But again, Reeves convinces us that John Wick is more than just the Kevlar on him. He is a single-minded killing machine with a heart of gold, and Reeves plays him exactly like that without overdoing it. He is aware of his weaknesses more than his strengths and listens to reason even if every broken bone in his body argues otherwise. Reeves’ straight-faced portrayal will put him and Wick on the pedestal of being one of our greatest action heroes.

In many ways, Chapter 4 is the Logan equivalent of the John Wick franchise. The film acknowledges the vulnerabilities of the titular character and attempts to give him the closure he desperately craves for. In between the cacophony of ricocheting bullets, crashing cars, and scrunching necks, there are silences that reflect the poignancy, and even the futility of it all. The conversation between Wick, Winston, and King towards the end of the film reminds us of how beneath all the kicks, punches, blood, guns, knives, katanas, nunchucks, bloody killings, and the unparalleled high of witnessing a true-blue action extravaganza, the film always had a beating heart that craved for peace and quiet. And Chapter 4 allows John Wick, and possibly Keanu Reeves too, exactly that, and gives us the most kick-ass and fitting finale to a fulfilling franchise.

Cinema Express