FoCC Review: John Wick: Chapter 4 – Ballet of Violence
By Jason Delgado
Legendary actor Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick, a man of few words and a world class assassin in John Wick: Chapter 4. Wick is on the run from other assassins because of the bounty on his head from the events of the previous movies. A familiar refrain throughout the film is that the only way for Wick to rest is through death, and it’s so action-packed, with an absurd body count, that it’s easy to see why.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is a gorgeous ballet of violence. Director Chad Stahelski always finds a way to outdo the action choreography with each successive film and Chapter 4 is certainly no exception. The Wick movies are my favorite modern action films and Part 4 insanely ups the ante to new heights. The hand-to-hand combat and rapid fire gunplay is second to none, coming off like a beautifully choreographed dance (which is why Film Threat’s Alan Ng likens the movie to Singin’ in the Rain).
The cinematography by Dan Laustsen (who won an Academy Award for The Shape of Water) is simply breathtaking. The vibrancy of the colors, such as the pink leaves of the Kikuzakura cherry blossoms in Japan, is extraordinary. Stahelski says that they perfected a new cinematography technique “of combining digital world-building with real locations to get the kind of color palettes that pop.”
The memorable characters and video game-like battles jump off the screen just as much as the incredible scenery. The usual Wick stalwarts, such as Ian McShane as Winston, the manager of the Continental, Lawrence Fishburne as Bowery King, and the late great Lance Reddick as the concierge Charon, are all fantastic as usual. The newcomers also help to elevate John Wick: Chapter 4 to another level. They include characters such as the blind martial arts expert and former John Wick friend, but now-worthy adversary, Donnie Yen as Caine, the maniacal Bill Skarsgård as Marquis, the evil newcomer of the High Table, Shamier Anderson as the Tracker aka Mr. Nobody, a charismatic assassin with an equally charming attack dog, and Rina Sawayama as Akira, a fierce fighter who is out for revenge.
The action takes place at different locations all around the world, with a needs-to-be-seen-to-be-believed car chase around the Arc de Triomphe, an aerial overhead insane one-camera shot fire-fight that looks like a video game, and a seemingly endless staircase battle sequence to top it all off. Interspersed between the breakneck action are poetic lines about life and death.
Skarsgård is so good at being hateable, while Donnie Yen is on the opposite, sympathetic fence as a man who is forced into trying to kill Wick because his own daughter will be killed if he doesn’t.
I absolutely loved this film, but my only criticism is that it felt a bit too long with a runtime of two hours and forty-nine minutes. The opening started off a bit slowly (although with a gorgeous scene in the desert reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia), so maybe I would trim some off there, because once the action did get going, it did not stop!
I give John Wick: Chapter 4 four and a half hot sauce packets out of five. It’s so spicy that it will melt your gold teeth off!
P.S. – Do not miss the end credits scene!