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John Wick 4 (Spoiler Free Review)

Hello again Mr. Wick

John Wick 4 isn’t as original as its predecessors but its still an worthy addition to the franchise.

If you ask me to explain my reaction to this movie as simply as possible it would be “I loved this movie and was frustrated by it all at the same time. It’s important for me to note that as a fan of John Woo style Hong Kong action films, 90s and I am a diehard John Wick fan. I’ve been on this ride since the first film and felt that each outing added or contributed something new in it own right.  With Mr. Wick’s outing with the exception of one action sequence that I won’t spoil, this film feels more like an amalgamation of everything each previous film has brought to what is truthfully an unexpected franchise. While I enjoyed this movie and love this franchise after viewing this last film I have to wonder whether the franchise has expended all of it narrative opportunities.

At the beginning of the film we find John, Keanu Reeves, completing his recovery from the events of John Wick 3 Parabellum which included being shot and falling off the Continental Hotel in New York. No one can complain that this movie takes a lot of time getting started, as we are immediately thrown into the action. But as opposed to the prior films, John who is described by Vigo in the first film as a man of focus, of purposed, and sheer will, doesn’t seem particularly focused. In prior films John’s objectives were clear, seeking revenge, getting his car back, getting free of the High Table, but here more than any of the other films he feels lost. The result is wonderful action sequences that lack that clear directive or goal until the early middle of the film.

The action sequences have always been one of the standout aspects to this franchise. The franchise has given us unique gun battles in every film. The shootout at the bath house in John Wick 1, a masterpiece, the battle in the catacombs in Italy in John Wick 2 was any action fans wildest fantasy realized, Sophia and her dogs or the battle of the Continental at the end of Parabellum are near perfect. So it’s lamentable that so many of the action sequences from this film feel duplicative of the best from the earlier films. The car shootout at the end of John Wick 4? We saw similar sequences at the end of the first film and at the very beginning of the second. Sophia and her dogs? We get that in the form of Shamier Anderson’s Mr. Nobody and his furry companion. But while some of the action sequence feel like rehashes of things we’ve already seen that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to love with this film.

The casting of this film can only be described as sublime. Hiroyuki Sanada’s Shimazu and Rina Sawayama’s Akira are outstanding and truthfully the movie would have benefited from additional time with both characters as they added an emotional depth that can feel otherwise absent in the rest of the story. Bill Skarsgard’s Marquis, in the hands of a lesser actor could have come off as a carbon copy of Riccardo Scamarcio’s Santino D’Antonio from the second film. Instead, he creates a villain that feels like a legitimate challenge intellectual if not physically similarly to Asia Kate Dillon’s Adjudicator. Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King feels misused, but he is still a joy to see again. Ian McShane’s performance as Winston fully realizes the emotional relationship between himself and John that’s only alluded to in the earlier films.    

I have to acknowledge that while the casting of Donny Yen’s in John Wick 4 is a fantastic addition I wish they had been more creative in developing his character. The similarities between Rogue One’s Chirrut Îmwe and his character Caine are impossible to avoid. Considering that Mr. Yen is one of the top global actors, it feels like a wasted opportunity in failing to craft a more original character that better utilizes his talents. Regardless, Donny Yen provides an outstanding performance as a tortured assassin forced to act against his will, like John himself in John Wick 2 and ultimately enhances the film with his presence.

If you are a fan of this series, then it’s likely you’ll see John Wick 4 as a worthy if not slightly flawed addition to the franchise. In the event that your not already a fan I’m not sure this will be the film to convince you. Regardless this is a visually beautiful film that has amazing actors and outstanding action sequences.  It’s not perfect, but it is really, really good.

Four out of Five Stars.

About Armand (1273 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill

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