Out with a bang: John Wick: Chapter 4 review

Daniel Ketchelos —Staff writer

“John Wick: Chapter 4,” the latest installment of the John Wick franchise, hit theaters on March 24, 2023. “Chapter 4” picks up with Wick (Keanu Reeves) working to keep one step ahead of the High Table, who want him killed. This final installment of the franchise keeps up with the fast-paced action and beautiful visuals of the previous three films. 

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is the longest installment in the franchise with a runtime of 169 minutes. The main plot of this film follows Wick as he seeks to earn his freedom by defeating the members of the High Table. The film sets up an imminent ‘showdown’ as Wick’s only way to earn freedom from the High Table. This showdown is a one-on-one duel between two High Table members who are part of a table family. Wick challenges the high-ranking table member Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard) to the duel. 

One of the strengths of the John Wick franchise is its ability to create powerful action combat scenes that don’t feel forced while also advancing the plot in a meaningful way. The first major action scene in “Chapter 4” is set in Japan at the Osaka Continental Hotel. This scene’s combat choreography and stylization feel similar to the final action scene in “Kill Bill: Volume 1.” The set design in “Chapter 4” is unmatched, featuring beautiful backdrops that unfold with the ever-increasing chaos. 

While these scenes work well to advance the plot, they do feel a bit long and become tiring to watch because of the constant high-paced action. The film could have cut 10 to 20 minutes by shortening these scenes, but diehard John Wick fans will enjoy the added action. Previous films have had a runtime of 30 to 40 minutes less than this film.

Reeve’s Wick featured fewer lines in “Chapter 4” compared to the previous films. Many of his lines were short and straight to the point. This is a welcome difference compared to many action films which feature dialogue to avoid focusing on visual storytelling, and the absence of filler dialogue allows this film to breathe and let the visuals direct the story.

Reeve’s acting did feel uncomfortable at points in the film where it felt he was forcing some of his dialogue, but this may have been an acting choice to show the struggle Wick is facing in the film. Other actors felt natural and incorporated dynamic characters that added to the story.

One major problem with “John Wick: Chapter 4” is the plot. While this film relies heavily on the setup from the previous three chapters, this installment fails to have much substance. Wick’s search to gain his freedom from the High Table feels a bit stretched over the four films, and “Chapter 4” is a little heavy on the action scenes without enough plot development.

A large amount of violence and blood is to be expected in the final film of the John Wick series, but it is hard to watch at moments. Characters are thrown off multiple stories, stabbed, sliced, and diced into oblivion – which is nothing new for the John Wick series, but is hard if you have a low tolerance for violence. All violence is motivated in this film with a goal in mind, but it does promote brutality.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” topped the box office opening weekend (March 24-26) with ticket sales totaling $73.5 million domestically. While the John Wick franchise is complete, potential spinoffs include “Ballerina” (a female-led spinoff detailing the syndicate that adopted John Wick), and “The Continental” (a prequel TV series showcasing the hotels owned by the High Table).
My overall rating of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is 3.5/5.

Contributed photo

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