‘John Wick: Chapter 4’: A Masterclass of Action, Stuntwork and Ambitious Filmmaking.

If there is a franchise that showcases the love of cinema, stuntwork and true unhinged ambition, it’s the ‘John Wick‘ franchise. Action in both the genre itself and the franchises it creates, functions just like any other genre would, in the sense that reinvention and upping the game is what keeps it exciting and fresh. It’s a genre where even if mediocre movies do well, it’s the well-made ones that will leave a lasting impact. It’s similar to horror in that sense with how there is that divide between slashers and what is now considered “elevated horror”. In this case, there are action movies and then there is the ‘John Wick‘ franchise which seems to ascend into something otherworldly with each entry. With ‘Chapter 4‘, the mastery at display is of such high a level that it’s really not just a movie anymore. It goes back to the fundamentals of cinema in the sense that it’s a simple story put through a dramatic lens amplified by the incalculable ambition of its filmmakers. The passion for the craft has never been so apparent in a modern-day blockbuster. Keanu Reeves, Chad Stahelski and the entire cast and crew should be mighty proud of creating one of the best action movies of all time.

mild spoilers for ‘John Wick: Chapter 4‘ are featured in this review.

It’s a true rarity to find a franchise that consistently keeps finding ways how to improve itself and deliver a bigger and better film than its previous entry. The ‘John Wick‘ franchise is really one of the only ones in recent memory that fit that category perfectly. From the small-budget 2014 film that hooked everyone with its story to the sequels that got everyone to stay on board as the action sequences get even wilder. While every single film out of these four is fantastic, it is undeniable that each one gets better than the last. The first film was rich in story but it looks like child’s play compared to the visual masterpieces that the franchise delivers now. ‘Chapter 2‘ is a fantastic sequel that really cemented the tone for the rest franchise and ‘Parabellum‘ while broader in scope and featuring some of the franchise’s best action, was quite low on plot. In ‘Parabellum’s defence, the plot was moreso a vessel for the action pieces and it really ended up playing like a colourful, ultra-violent opera show. In what feels like a final chapter, this new movie excels in just about every aspect of a film. The stakes have never been higher, the story is captivating and rich and the insane action pieces are presented in a staggering insanity that you can’t help but admire.

One of the many reasons why ‘Chapter 4‘ works as a finale is because it is self-aware of the path that the franchise is taking. This isn’t the type of concept that can be stretched into a million movies nor should it be. The franchise never outstays its welcome thankfully and in regards to how perfectly this movie ties up everything, I’m hoping that there won’t be any more after this. ‘Chapter 4‘ truly is a perfect ending. It asks the question most blockbuster franchises are terrified of, “What happens after this?”. The movie tackles this in a very clever way and finds a solution that is perfectly suited for Wick. If anything, I feel that ‘Parabellum‘ and ‘Chapter 4‘ work perfectly as a two-part film. In fact, the title ‘Parabellum‘ comes from the Latin phrase ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ translates to ‘If you want peace, prepare for war‘ and that is the perfect way to describe these two films. The third film acts as the first round between the world and Wick and in ‘Chapter 4‘, Wick has been preparing to fight for his freedom once and for all and boy, is it a war! It’s a global venture filled with so much incredible violence and action and frankly, it was impossible to get bored of because it’s just so mesmerizing and epic that even at three hours, I was consistently engaged.

Speaking of that runtime, Stahelski does not waste a single second as he fills these three hours up with as much action and excitement as possible. Some people call it exhausting, I call it thrilling. The movie opens with a gorgeous desert sequence featuring Wick on horseback hunting down a member of The High Table. What follows is essentially split down into three acts set in three different cities. The first hour is set in Osaka, Japan and the shot composition, colour and fight choreography here is stunning. Words cannot express how magical this film is, and how they managed to execute such incredible action sequences. Hiroyuki Sanada and Rina Sawayama are fantastic and leave one hell of an impression. Donnie Yen and Keanu Reeves have this impeccable sequence featuring nun-chucks, swords and mirrors and it’s just inspired, the inventiveness that went into it. The second act of the film takes place in Berlin and it’s easily the one city that isn’t as featured as the other two as it mostly takes place in a club. That being said, everything that happens there is just as thrilling. Scott Adkins was menacing and highly entertaining and the passing of scenes from Reeves and Adkins to Yen and Shamier Anderson was very well balanced. The fighting in the actual club with the people was intense and gripping. The physicality of the action and the brutality feels so hard-hitting in this franchise and it particularly felt heavy in this sequence. This eventually leads to the brilliant third act set in Paris where if you can even believe it, the movie turns it up to an eleven.

The sequences in this spectacular third act are so wild, impressive and fucking incredible, it’s truly some of the best action choreography, stuntwork and use of location ever put to film. Set in the dark hours past midnight and manoeuvring the orange-tinted Paris climbing his way up to the Eiffel Tower, it is simply one of the best-constructed third acts I’ve ever seen. The use of orange in this film is incredible but it truly shines in this final hour. The shots in the radio station and the framing of it all is so perfectly film-noir. In fact, the framing in this entire act is so ambitious and admirable, it’s truly mesmerizing to see unfold. The scene around the Arc de Triomphe is incredible! The movement of the cars and the way they’re utilized, Wick shooting people out of a car leaning out because the door got taken off, is insane. I’m running out of words to describe this movie because I keep reusing the same ones but I truly don’t know how to put into words what this movie does to me. The scenes in that rundown building with the excellent Dragons’ Breath shotgun and the unbelievable unbroken overhead shot seeing Wick set his enemies ablaze. The insane stunt that sees Wick jumping out a window and landing on the road, it’s all just so rousing. One of the most iconic sequences has to be the staircase sequence which acts almost like a celebration of stuntwork in its own right. It was a standout moment in the trailer and it’s a standout moment in the movie. It’s gripping, you’re rooting for Wick, the time is ticking and it’s perfectly choreographed. Easily one of my favourite movie moments of the year. Reeves is truly an admirable star.

Overall, ‘John Wick: Chapter 4‘ is not just a franchise-best in terms of quality, scope and action but also just about one of the best damn movies I’ve ever seen. To say that about a modern blockbuster is so rare, most people love to see that it’s their favourite of the year but to me, this is truly up there in the all-time list. I absolutely loved every minute of this, my undying love for Keanu Reeves has never been so strong and as a finale to one of the best franchises of all time, it works perfectly. This movie is truly a miracle.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

John Wick: Chapter 4‘ is in cinemas now.

Rest In Peace, Lance Reddick


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