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Review: 'John Wick Chapter 4' continues the bloody good ride

Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 10:54 AM Central
Last updated Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 10:58 AM Central

by John Couture

After three films and copious amounts of words used to describe them that only rival John Wick's body count, what more is there to be said about the latest installment in the action series?

Well, it turns out, there are plenty.

I'll start with something that I just recently learned and that is that director Chad Stahelski was originally a stuntman. Actually, this I knew and this fact goes a long way in understanding the particular aesthetic that has become synonymous with John Wick films. But what I didn't know is that Chad was a stuntman for Brandon Lee on The Crow and was present on set during that fateful moment when Lee lost his life due to careless handling of live weapons on the set.

In fact, Chad completed the filming of The Crow in Lee's place and obviously, that experience has had a lasting impact on Chad's life. So much so, that Chad has made it a rule that no working guns are allowed on his set. So yeah, everything single gun and gunshot in the John Wick films is a prop and/or digitally rendered in post.

That is one amazing feat when you realize just how many weapons grace the screen of any single John Wick film. Knowing this now, would it impact my enjoyment John Wick Chapter 4? Not at all. If anything, my adoration for these films only grew.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating the High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

I think the one thing that I enjoy most about this series of films is just how elaborate the world-building has become from one film to the next. The original John Wick was a simple revenge thriller that only hinted at the expansive world underneath the surface. This world was expanded in the second and third films before becoming a truly international phenomenon in John Wick Chapter 4.

The last film was the first to venture outside of the Greater New York area with stops in Rome and Casablanca along the way. Not only did these locations serve to add more intriguing and beautiful locales to shoot against, but they also revealed the true reach of the high table and the syndicate. It's clear that this high table with its staunch rules and difficulty in escaping is more akin to the mafia with its importance of loyalty and family first.

This film takes John Wick to Paris, Japan and Berlin which truly does show the global reach of the high table. The action scenes shot in Paris are simply remarkable and worth the price of the film by themselves.

What is also clear is that you never want to mess with John Wick because if you do, your last minutes on Earth will surely be filled with pain.

I would say that while there is plenty of action in this movie. John Wick's body count in the latest film is set at 140, bringing his total body count in the series to 439 deaths. That's quite a bit of bloodshed. And while John certainly loses his fair share of blood over the course of what amounts to a few weeks in movie time, his loss never reaches levels that jeopardize his mortality. No, the only slight criticism that I would levy against this movie is that the increase in the story does add some confusion that you either have to pay close attention to or resolve through multiple viewings.

But again, this minor nuisance does little to take away from the awesomeness of John Wick Chapter 4. There's still plenty of gun-fu action to satiate even the most ardent purveyor of violence, but with a running time approaching three hours, you just have to accept that you're going to be on this ride with John for quite a while.

Not to give too much away, but I feel that this film concludes John's arc in quite a satisfactory way. I was a bit bummed to hear that Chapter 5 is already in the works as well as a spin-off or two. I think that the filmmakers have created a rich and vibrant world that is now large enough to support stories within it that don't feature John Wick.

At some point, you really just need to let John Wick rest with his new puppy and ride off into the sunset for good. But where's the fun in that? Not to mention all that lost money. So, I'm sure that Keanu Reeves will continue to wear that dapper suit for as long as audiences will have him and you can't really complain too much about that.

John Wick Chapter 4 is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.