‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Spoiler-Free Review – ScreenHub Entertainment


If you’ve been reading ScreenHub for the past few years or have been listening to Film & Spirits podcast, you’ll know that I’ve been very excited for John Wick: Chapter 4. It’s my third most anticipated film of 2023. So now that this nearly three-hour juggernaut of an action flick is here, does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

The main theme of John Wick: Chapter 4 is consequence. Over the last three films, John has been leading a crusade against the High Table. The act of killing Santino D’Antonio at The Continental in John Wick: Chapter 2 rendered John excommunicado and forced him on the run and on a direct collision course with the Table. But what about everyone else? All those who’ve offered help, safety or council to John? We’ve seen some of this in Chapter 3: Parabellum, but the fourth entry really this concept into the narrative theme and its characters, as opposed to being a plot device. John may never have considered that his actions have consequences beyond himself and some characters really give the former assassin a piece of their mind for inadvertently dragging them down the rabbit hole with him. People die because of John’s actions, which does paint John in a different light. He’s no longer the untouchable action machine to be deified, but a killer with blinders on. It’s a neat take.

Since it’s those around John who are under the crosshairs of the High Table, it’s fitting that the many side characters are really interesting and engaging in their own right. Ian McShane returns and continues to shine as Winston, manager of the New York Continental who left John for dead at the end of the last movie. At his side is Charon, played by the late, great Lance Reddick, who passed away a week before the release of the film and to who the film is dedicated to. Also rerunning in a minimal role is Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King.

[Credit: Lionsgate]

But it’s a lot of the new characters that really stand out. Donnie Yen’s Caine is an absolute knockout as one of the antagonists of the film. He’s deeply layered and not just a one-note henchman. I found him sympathetic, something I wasn’t expecting in a movie about crazy action and adversaries. Yen also delivers in spades with the action thanks to his quick martial prowess, with his scenes not only sleek but creative thanks to the character’s blindness. Other standouts include the always amazing Hiroki Sanada as Koji, the Osaka Continental manager, Rina Samayawa as his concierge and daughter Akira, Shamier Anderson as a tracker often referred to as Mr. Nobody, a wildcard in the hunt for John and Bill Skårsgard as the Marquis Vincent de Gramont, the agent acting on behalf of the Table to end John and what he symbolizes. Skårsgard oozes douchebaggery in the highest order, with his pompous aristocratic accent, fancy clothes and his ability to manipulate those around him. Skårsgard’s jaw must be sore after chewing the scenery so much.

[Credit: Lionsgate]

John Wick: Chapter 4 is the biggest budgeted film in the franchise to date and it shows. This movie looks phenomenal, with cinematography and sets that sometimes brought to mind Blade Runner 2049 or Dune. Everything felt big, from chateau interiors, to bustling hotels or art galleries. What’s more, everything is punctuated with vibrant lighting, from neon trims to vibrant LED projectors. Camera composition and set design complement this wonderfully as well, from the Osaka Continental and its walkway over a pond to on-location shots, such as in The Louvre. The action is filmed in wide, long shots, giving us a clear view of what’s going on. One sequence, near the end of the film featuring fire, is worthy of applause thanks to its exceptional camera work. That’s all I’ll say on that matter but you’ll know what I mean when you see it. Very creative, very imaginative. Likewise does for a one versus one duel in Osaka that envokes old samurai films. Simply stunning.

[Credit: Lionsgate]

John Wick: Chapter 4 is around two hours and forty minutes and it does show this length near the middle when John makes a stop at a club in Berlin. The main goon in this scene felt a little cartoony and the action, while still great, did feel derivative of other club scenes in the franchise. Even some of the music is repurposed from older films in the franchise. Whether that comes off as redundant or as an hommage is up to you. Speaking of hommage, there’s a really great one to Walter Hill’s cult classic film The Warriors. If you’ve seen the movie, you will not miss this reference as it’s not subtle but if not, it has something to do with a radio.

I mentioned how I really liked the supporting cast, but what about Keanu Reeves as the titular John Wick? Well, Keanu continues to be a force to be reckoned with thanks to his commitment to the craft of stunt work, but like in Parabellum, I did find John not quite as interesting as those around him. In the first movie, he was our avatar as he rediscovered this secret world of assassins, but now what is John fighting for? The movie does address this and handles it well, but I was more engaged with Caine as a character. But both of these points do make for a stellar ending from a narrative point of view. Another nitpick is the Osaka sequence, specifically the LED room (you’ll know when you see) was a few minutes too long. Likewise, some of the green screen, especially near the end of the movie, felt flat and noticeable to me.

[Credit: Lionsgate]

But these are minor gripes. This movie is nearly three hours long and it’s a technical marvel. Outstanding cinematography and lighting, a great supporting cast and entertaining action is what this movie should be remembered for. Is it the best John Wick movie? That’s for you to say, but it’s certainly a contender for me.


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