Let’s talk about John Wick: Chapter Four.
Does anyone remember the release of the original John Wick back in 2014? It had no hype whatsoever. Keanu Reeves was a has been, famous for The Matrix but following the crap sequels he had been, dumped by Hollywood. And then with a bland name, it seemed like it was going to be a standard action movie that would be in movies for a week before being available for £5 in the Morrison’s cheap DVD range. But after it’s release, its reputation as one of the best action movies in a generation started to grow. It then became a modern classic, re-established Keanu Reeves as a star and has inspired hundreds of imitators. Now it’s back.
John Wick may have evaded death, but he once again becomes enemy number one for the High Table when he kills the elder. This leads to the Marquis looking to use Wick’s friendships against him to find him and finally kill him.
The thing that surprised many about the John Wick franchise was the extent of its lore. Having there be a secret society of assassins is not a new concept, but what was novel about John Wick was how deep the lore went and how much they were willing to explore it after showing glimpses of it in the first film. However, it was fair to say the film might have been going too deep into the lore, forgetting that first and foremost this is an action movie. This film balances that well. The lore is important and fuels the story, a basic one of John Wick just trying to be free from the assassin world, but the film knows it can’t just stop for five minutes, dump its exposition on you and feel smug because of all the hard work they’ve done on building a world. If you felt the lore was too heavy last time out, you’ll be happy with how this film works.
And let’s talk about the action a bit. Admittedly, there isn’t much to talk about, hence why this review is going to be quite short. It’s just technically and visually perfect. You’ve seen the other three films, because let’s be honest you aren’t jumping onto a franchise with its fourth attempt, you know what are you going to get. You’re going to get a mixture of hand-to-hand combat with gun action and the camera is going to trust the actors and not cut a million times. It’s going to watch the action, allow the actors to perform their choreography and show off these fantastic fights, and let you enjoy watching it all instead of giving you a headache. It’s the same as the others and it’s exactly what you want going into this film. It feels as good as before and that’s why people will be paying for their tickets to this movie
The joys of this franchise is that in every film, you get some new characters who are absolutely badass and bring a lot of fun to the table. Action legend Donnie Yen is in this film as a blind assassin who is a long term friend of Wick’s but is bound to try and kill him. Not only does this lead to some cool set pieces, I love him setting up some electronic doorbells to locate his attackers and give them so what for, but there’s also some good story beats when you consider the family connections that’s set up as a parallel to Wick’s own family. I really like Tracker though, but not because of any cool action he brings to the table. I like him because he speaks normally. Everyone in this franchise speaks in riddles, talking about the mysteries of the assassin world, but Tracker just seems like a normal guy who has trained a dog to eat people’s bollocks. That may be a brand new sentence, but it’s true. I like the new characters a lot and they bring plenty of good stuff to the film.
There is one thing I want to mention though before I wrap up. It was in the nightclub fight with lots of flashing lights where I realised, I think this might be where I’m personally ready to finish with the franchise. This is now the fourth John Wick movie and they have never really changed things up, they have just upped the ante. There has also been a lot of imitators along the way, with everyone who has worked on the original seemingly making their own version, such as Atomic Blonde and Nobody. John Wick is still the best of these action films, but it is hurt by the fact an entire breed of action film is attempting to replicate its style. So while watching some of the scenes which are familiar, I’m wondering if I desperately need another John Wick movie. They are great and I’ll still be going if there is one, but it will need to do something new to keep fresh.
John Wick: Chapter Four is exactly what you want and exactly what you expect. It delivers more on the lore and explores the world further while giving us some even more kick ass action scenes. It’s a film that it is difficult to do a review on because it does exactly what it needs to do without much fuss. There were three John Wick films before this and it is basically more of the same and on a very similar level to the others. It’s actually remarkable how consistent the franchise is. It’s perhaps a bit too familiar at times but this is still what action movies wish to be.