By Samuel M Acosta
This review does contain spoilers
After this movie was delayed due to the pandemic, expectations were running high for the next installment of the John Wick action series. As soon as it came out, I rushed to the theater and immediately fell in love with this seemingly final installment of the series. Not only does it build on what made its predecessors so good, but “John Wick: Chapter 4” takes those successful elements and throws away almost everything else.
This movie follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves) as he begins his war with The High Table, with the aid of The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). Yet, as his efforts begin to seem futile, John only has one last option to clear his name and get out from under the crushing thumb of The Table: A challenge of single combat. Rejoining his friend Winston (Ian McShane), John fights his way to become eligible for the challenge before successfully doing so. That leaves only one thing left for him to do. John must survive long enough to fight in single combat.
Now, before we can properly assess whether this film is good or not, we have to understand what kind of film it is. This is a pure adrenaline-based action movie. This has been the case for the whole series, but “John Wick: Chapter 4” dives into that theme way deeper than its predecessors. While the first three movies felt like they attempted to at least maintain some semblance of balance between story and action, the fourth film is almost non-stop action with very little dialogue and story. This is one of the smartest decisions they could’ve made.
The action here is near flawless. Even with how constant it is, it never gets boring. Watching as John Wick takes down dozens of guards and assassins with efficiency and precision had me on the edge of my seat. There are several times when the action was just plain ridiculous, but it just feeds more into the fun. This movie does ask the audience to suspend their sense of realism, since if they are too attached to it they will end up scoffing constantly as John Wick gets hit by the fifth car in two minutes, but for those willing to surrender that, it is nearly three hours of pure fun.
The actors in the film are great, though the acting isn’t necessarily Oscar-worthy. The film boasts many great talents, such as Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgard, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada, to name a few. These characters are incredibly fun and easy to love. Even some of the smaller-scale characters that we barely meet are incredibly entertaining.
The only time that they lose some of their charm is when they open their mouth. The script here is very rough. It is simple and cliche. Most of the time when the characters are talking, it feels like it would be better if they just started punching each other instead, and luckily sometimes that wish does come true. It shows the genius of this fourth installment, because this has been an issue for the previous films, so it feels as if for four, they just decided to only make characters speak when absolutely necessary and fight the rest of the time. Even the title character himself speaks less than 400 words throughout the nearly three-hour film.
There is one other area that needs to be discussed, but it will have spoilers, so be warned. At the end of this film, John Wick dies. He dies in victory and with a sense of peace. I actually view it as a fitting end for the character. Yet, it seems as if the franchise is not over. A television show based on The Continental will be premiering soon and a film called “Ballerina” starring Ana de Armas is set to come out in the next couple of years. While I think that these will be fascinating projects, as the world-building in John Wick is one of my favorite aspects of the films, I’m worried a bit of the magic will be lost without Keanu Reeves at the helm. There will need to be a lot more precision with how the series is handled to ensure similar quality in the future.
Overall, I loved this film. It was so purely entertaining and ridiculous, boasting some of the best fight choreography I’ve ever seen, that I think it is one of the best action movies of the past decade. This movie is made for fans of the series who just want more of it and also for action movie fans looking for something to scratch that itch.
I give “John Wick: Chapter 4” an 8/10
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is now playing in theaters
Samuel M Acosta is a Senior Theatre Comprehensive Major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing plays.