Keanu Reeves makes a triumphant return in “John Wick: Chapter 4,” a violent balletic ode to action and choreography. The latest film in the Wick-iverse clocks in at a whopping 2 hours and 49 minutes. That’s ~10,140 seconds, most of which are filled to the brim with action. Which is exactly what you come to a “John Wick” film for, no?
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A Holy Asian Trinity
The franchise is no stranger to major stars but we think they’ve outdone themselves by giving us the holy Asian trinity of Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Yen plays Caine, a fellow assassin from Wick’s past (and what a riddled past it is). Sanada is Simazu Koji, the manager of the Osaka Continental.
What is a Continental? A question we had to remind ourselves going into the film. We made the potential mistake of not brushing up more recently on the trio of films that precede the latest. Some of the more minor plot details may feel a bit hazy for those going in a bit more rusty. Director Chad Stahelski (who has helmed the entire franchise) and writers Shay Hatten and Michael Finch seem to anticipate this. There are enough breadcrumbs, or in some case full slices, to get the audience enough up to speed. Plus whole new levels are introduced in “John Wick: Chapter 4”.
Rounding Out the Rest
Bill Skarsgård continues to defend his crown as “ultimate psychopathic character actor,” joining as Marquis Vincent de Gramont, a member of the High Table, the regulatory body of assassins globally. Musician Rina Sawayama gives an outstanding performance as Koji’s daughter. Shamier Anderson joins as a mysterious bounty hunter and delivers maybe one of the most disturbing scenes of the film (which we won’t spoil).
Returning to Wickdom are Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King, Ian McShane as Winston Scott, Manager of the New York Continental and friend to Wick when convenient. The late Lance Reddick reprises his role as Charon, concierge at the Continental. The film hopefully will serve as a fitting elegy to the actor who has brightened up all four of the films in the series.
At the end of the day, the film is a violent balletic ode to action and choreography. The stunts continue to impress and the creativity behind the sequences with Reeves and Yen in particular shine. Though we have to admit there are a few sequences they could’ve shaved a bit off of and tightened up to move the story further along. The film can get a little blinded by its own love of the chase.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” delivers exactly what it promises to. Those understandably averse to the excessive violence will find no quarter here. Yet Reeves and the rest of the cast bring a buoyancy and sometimes humor to the film that make it delectably watchable. It’s out in theaters March 24th, 2023.