‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Is One Of The Best Pure Action Movies Ever Made

Will John Wick ever catch a break? Having now seen John Wick: Chapter 4, the answer to that question seems to remain, firmly, “no.”

I do like the John Wick movies, but I’ve never really loved a John Wick movie before. I have entered and exited movie theaters three times in the past to experience the adventures of John Wick and have felt some form of, “yeah that was fun,” every time. There’s something different about John Wick: Chapter 4. It’s still a great time, but director Chad Stahelski is going for something more here. It reminded me a bit of the Man with No Name movies and how those culminate in the all-time classic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

To be clear, I am not comparing John Wick: Chapter 4 to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but I am saying that John Wick: Chapter 4 is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of John Wick movies. Even John Wick: Chapter 4‘s running time, clocking in at just under three hours, hints that this is trying to be an epic of some sort. What’s crazy is, I think they just might have pulled it off.

And to be clear, this isn’t some sort of meditation on who and what John Wick even is. This movie is still nonstop action. To the point, a friend of mine, after the screening, was sarcastically making jokes like, “I wish this movie had an action scene,” and, “Hey, John Wick, show us, don’t tell us.” John Wick: Chapter 4 is an almost three-hour gauntlet of action that includes one of the best and funniest action sequences I’ve maybe ever seen.

John Wick: Chapter 4 picks up where John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (strangely, the only John Wick movie with a subtitle) leaves off. We watch John Wick take care of some unsettled business from the third movie that proves to be a mistake because the High Table didn’t take too kindly to John Wick’s actions and the repercussions are swift and deadly. One of which includes the destruction of The Continental in New York City, ordered by Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis de Gramont, as retribution for John Wick’s actions. And to let it be known that anyone helping John Wick from this point forward will face the same consequences.

Making matters more complicated, the High Table hires an assassin named Caine, played by Donnie Yen, who is just masterful every time he’s on screen. And he’s on-screen a lot. Holy hell, is he good in this. And we get multiple showdowns between John Wick and Caine. Caine easily becomes John Wick’s best foe. This is just masterful casting. Also on the hunt for John Wick is Shamier Anderson’s character who refers to himself as Mr. Nobody. He’s more of a “for hire” kind of fellow who travels with a German Shepard (this will obviously become an important plot point for John Wick) who changes allegiances based on who is paying him. Though, he does kind of seem to be in awe of John Wick. Which, you know, that’s understandable.

I guess I lied a little bit, there’s a little bit of meditation on what it means to be John Wick here. He’s asked multiple times what his plan is and his answer is always some version of, “kill them all.” But eventually, he has to realize his foes are seemingly infinite and always get replaced. He’s told point blank by both the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and Winston Scott (Ian McShane), even if John Wick kills Marquis de Gramont, it doesn’t matter. He will immediately be replaced and the cycle will continue.

But! There are rules within the High Table that would allow John Wick to be done with this once and for all. He can directly challenge Marquis de Gramont to a one-on-one duel (what that actually means will be decided later) with the winner taking all. But to do this, John Wick needs to be recommissioned into a family again. To get recommissioned, he’s going to have to do some extremely difficult favors. And all this adds up to a movie that’s running time is just under three hours though it never, ever feels long.

If John Wick: Chapter 4 is the last John Wick movie, it certainly ends in a way where it would be a satisfying ending. After the movie, I’ve literally been asking people if I missed something. Have they been advertising this as the last installment? It appears that they haven’t, but the film certainly feels that way. Where everything is laid out on the table so, by the end, a viewer will think, what more could I possibly want from this series?

Also, I suspect Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves would probably like to do other things, especially Stahelski. He’s directed three (soon to be four) extremely successful movies, but they’ve all been titled John Wick. It’s only human nature at this point to want to do something else. Not be thought of only as “the John Wick guy.” (Though, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty great thing to be remembered for.) So if this is it for John Wick, Chapter 4, improbably, goes out as easily the best of the series and a contender for one of the best pure action movies in recent history if not ever made. It’s so good I really kind of hope they end on this. I truly don’t think it can be topped.

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