John Wick Chapter 4: embrace the excess

Keanu Reeves and Donnie Yen deliver a double dose of action goodness.

by Justin Choo

If you found John Wick: Chapter 3 a little too much like a parody of itself, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news first: nothing’s changed; if anything, John Wick has gone full over the top in this instalment, and it makes no apologies for it. Then the good news: John Wick has gone full over the top in this instalment, and it makes no apologies for it.

Chapter 4 is probably the slickest of the series, and ranks behind the original in the pantheon if you are into tier lists. But if you’re just concerned about whether or not to watch this, the short answer is, yes, please.

By this point, it’s safe to say that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is virtually invincible, which means that the only way he dies is if the plot requires him to do so; not to be confused with plot armour, because he’s been written to a point where the audience DOESN’T expect him to die. Wick is in spirit, the live-action One Punch Man.

Baba Yaga is a name well-earned. How do you kill a myth?

The biggest problem with a movie with an unkillable protagonist is that there really is no tension that you can milk out of any hypothetical life-or-death situation. The only solution? Harder, better, faster, stronger… you get the picture. And that’s precisely what John Wick 4 does: it keeps us on the rollercoaster and the action doesn’t let up once the excrement hits the fan.

You could probably write the entire plot of John Wick 4 on the back of an 80’s style bus ticket, but the movie isn’t crippled by that. John Wick’s stories have always been told through the sufferings of their protagonist, so you don’t need anything more than a threadbare plot to get the audience emotionally invested. And frankly, I’d rather they not try too hard to trigger my Matrix trilogy PTSD.

Winston is an immovable fixture of the John Wick universe.

Needless to say, don’t sweat the plotholes and all that stuff. Forget the obscure tradition that offers Wick a way out of his situation that nobody cared to mention 500 bodies and $40m in collateral damage ago. Don’t be a wet blanket. Don’t be that person.

While John Wick 4 strays further and further from realism, at least it gets its new absurdity-laden persona right with its tasteful application of slick, over-the-top choreography. The elaborate fight scenes are bigger, badder and unfortunately, a little more scrappy compared to the high standards of the past. But given the scale of the movie’s ambition, it’s understandable.

You won’t be disappointed by the explosive fight sequences.

The top-down action sequence is probably one of the highlights of the movie and reminded me that Wick is probably the equivalent of a video game speedrunner who’s trying to complete his objective in the fastest time possible while avoiding hits.

In many ways, they share something in common: both need an unhealthy level of obsession and dedication to reach their goals, and the rest of the world thinks they are batshit insane for chasing an objective with such punishing requirements. Speedrunners have to adhere to certain conditions for a legitimate speedrun; Wick has to save his friends without compromising his plans. And they make what they do look ridiculously easy. Everyone else knows that it’s not.

Will Team Marquis be enough to take down John Wick?

And everyone except baddie Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) believes that he has a chance of surviving the John Wick Experience mega concert. The Marquis is certain that Caine (Donnie Yen), who is placed in a desperate situation, will trump Wick by sheer force of will.

It’s the perfect setup: John Wick is seen as a ghost looking for a graveyard, while on the other end, Caine has everything to lose–especially his beloved daughter’s life–if he fails, and that in itself is the perfect yin and yang for a fiery showdown.

Get ready for an epic battle on Place de l’Étoile.

Thematically, it also feels as though they’re clearly pointing to a resolution by the film’s end. But the Marquis hadn’t counted on Wick to be David Goggins on steroids.

While Wick’s relentless charge towards his goal often comes at a great cost to his friends, they are all unanimous in believing that he will make it right. Wick’s stoicism; his devotion to his morally-charged beliefs, is often what sways the odds in his favour. Because above all, Wick is a great friend and a loving husband. The moral of the story here: be a care bear that’s also ready to be a killing machine to protect his or her tribe. It also helps if you’re Keanu Reeves-handsome.

Pop star Rina Sawayama acquits herself well as Akira.

Unfortunately, it’s a philosophy that is at odds with Wick’s goals. As much as he wants to, there is no way now for him to realistically escape the cycle of violence. That is not down to circumstance alone; he could have walked away 16 minutes into the first movie as a free man and disappeared into obscurity. He chose not to.

And even at the end, it doesn’t quite look like Wick will fade into the night any time soon–he earns a fairly ambiguous ending that allows for a fifth instalment if the stars align. Regardless of where you stand on the outcome, which ends the current cycle of violence, there are enough clues to support both interpretations.

The unbelievably cool Donnie Yen will surely be back for future outings.

But as far as I’m concerned, the main franchise has run its course, and it’s probably more interesting for fans if the creators were to explore stories about the rest of the world. It doesn’t mean that we won’t see more of Keanu, of course. That much we can be certain.

  • 7.5/10
    John Wick: Chapter 4 - 7.5/10

John Wick: Chapter 4

The spirit of the first John Wick is gone, but this isn’t too bad either, provided you’re willing to cut it some slack.

1 comment

Cinema HD APK August 12, 2023 - 5:12 am

“Wow, John Wick Chapter 4 looks absolutely mind-blowing! The action sequences, the intensity, and Keanu Reeves’ incredible performance just keep pushing the boundaries of what an action film can achieve. I can’t wait to see how they continue to embrace the excess and deliver another action-packed and adrenaline-fueled ride. Bravo to the entire team involved in bringing this franchise to life! Martin Williamson”

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