It’s hard to keep franchises fresh, and often around the second or third instalment you can see the writers and leads start to get a bit lethargic. Fighting against the sequel curse is John Wick: Chapter 4, which in our opinion is the best film of the entire franchise and, dare we say it, one of the best action films of all time!
Following directly on from the previous film, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is preparing to exact his revenge against the High Table – the mysterious leaders of the underworld. The law and world built around these groups of assassins, and the rules and codes they live and die by are already well established from the previous films though surprisingly this wouldn’t be much of a barrier for new audiences coming in fresh to the series.
Because of the events of the previous films, New York Continental Hotel manager Winston Scott (Ian McShane) and his concierge, Charon (the late Lance Reddick), are summoned by a senior member of the High Table, the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), to punish them for their actions. Skarsgård’s Marquis is one of the best villains of the entire franchise. He perfectly captures the sinister opulence of the world, and refreshingly doesn’t choose to fight throughout the film and rather leaves it to his team of hired henchmen and assassins; notably Caine, a blind retired assassin and ex-friend of Johns.
Caine is one of the films stand-out characters, perfectly portrayed by Donnie Yen, this is a man who has everything to live for yet is willing to die to reach his goal. The charisma, swagger and goofy yet efficient fighting style make what could have been a comic book style and one note character into someone you will truly care about by the end of the film.
The action sequences are some of the best fights we’ve ever seen. All are brutal, highly choreographed and set in interesting locations that are used to their full advantage. Each character has a unique and recognisable fighting style and personality that keeps your interest despite the never ending waves of brutality. One of our favourite fights turned a classic abandoned Paris mansion brawl into a top-down video game-like sequence complete with exploding gun ammunition in what felt like a single take. It’s action-filmmaking of the highest level.
Other notable fights include an incredible car-dodging brawl on the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe, an incredibly beautiful and brutal gallery brawl in Osaka (featuring singer Rina Sawayama), fire & water smash-up in a Berlin nightclub and a devastating fight up 300 stairs. These fight scenes are imaginative and over the top, it’s a perfectly choreographed dance rather than a super realistic brawl and we love the franchise for it. It also perfectly highlighted John Wick’s fighting style of using whatever location and tools are on hand to accomplish his goal. We’re always blown away that Keanu Reeves does most of the stunts himself.
While there is a possible fifth instalment, which we’d love to see, a very satisfying conclusion to Chapter Four means that fans of John Wick won’t be left hanging. John Wick: Chapter 4 is a masterclass in action filmmaking. It’s a film that knows exactly what audiences want to see and delivers it and so much more. Do not miss seeing this on the big screen.