Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers.
When my dad dragged me to the first John Wick film, I never would’ve expected that I would develop such a love and enjoyment for the franchise. The series follows titular character John Wick, portrayed by Keanu Reeves, a hitman forced out of retirement, as he navigates his obligations as a member of the secret organization The High Table while playing by his own rules that don’t necessarily align with The High Table’s expectations.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is the final installment of the series and follows a simple premise: The High Table still wants John Wick dead after he violated its rules and there is a bounty for his death. At the same time, Wick wants to leave his hitman lifestyle in the past and has to dodge The High Table left and right.
Despite having seen the previous films, it had been quite some time since I had seen them all, and was worried I wouldn’t remember some of the background necessary for this film. John Wick: Chapter 4 did a good job with story building and reminding the viewer of the basics you needed to know to be able to follow the plot.
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The movie was quintessentially Wick. It wasn’t trying to do anything unexpected or out-of-the-box for the series as a whole. There was constant intense action, unbelievable fight scenes and underlying emotion. I don’t think it was trying to tell a hyper-intellectual story, which is fine. Not every film needs to make you think and you can just enjoy watching it.
John Wick: Chapter 4 also featured the film debut of Japanese and British pop star Rina Sawayama. Playing the role of Akira, daughter of Wick’s good friend Shimazu, the singer had an incredibly strong performance. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like training for an action movie at the level of intensity that is John Wick. I did find it odd that we only saw Akira at the beginning of the film because I felt like there was opportunity to circle back to her character at the end. Regardless, it was a very strong performance for it being Sawayama’s film debut.
There was an odd moment in the beginning of the film when Wick was in Osaka, Japan, hiding at the Continental Hotel. When the representatives from The High Table are sent to find Wick, triggering a massive fight sequence, the Japanese hitmen all were armed with katanas, throwing stars, bows and arrows and nunchucks while every other hitman had a gun.
I found myself asking why the Japanese characters only fought with what one might categorize as a Japanese weapon. Especially considering the primary weapons in the film are guns, it just felt like a stereotype.
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What was really interesting about the film was how it interspersed comedy with intense action. A John Wick fight scene is nothing short of intense. I think the film may have a gunshot sound quota where they can’t go more than maybe five minutes without a gun discharging. If it had been straight violence throughout, I fear John Wick: Chapter 4 would’ve completely lost me. But there was a level of humor in the film that I feel balanced out the action. The comedy didn’t feel inappropriate either — it was the type of dry, blunt humor that’s not trying to be funny.
The movie wrapped up the whole story perfectly with a really poetic ending. Throughout every film, the viewer was presented with the idea that there is no beating The High Table and Wick will be running from it until he dies. This is emphasized with Wick’s bounty constantly growing across both the third and fourth films. Wick being able to leave The High Table despite dying only moments after was really satisfying — he beat them.
John Wick: Chapter 4 might not be a culture-defining film, but it’s still an entertaining piece of media. If you love action films, you’ll love this one.