Sunday, April 2, 2023

John Wick: Chapter 4

Movie Name:
John Wick: Chapter 4
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Hiroyuki Sanada, Clancy Brown, Marko Zaror, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Shamier Anderson, Natalia Tena, Scott Adkins, Aimee Kwan, Marie Pierra Kakoma
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
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Synopsis and Review
Director Chad Stahelski and by now his usual collaborator, actor Keanu Reeves, are back with another installment of the "John Wick" franchise (the last with this character according to some reports, though the success of the film may point in a different direction). Following the events of the previous feature, John Wick is ready to pursue revenge against the High Table, in the hopes the bounty on his head is also removed. He kills the Elder, but that doesn't solve anything. Winston in the meantime suffers a brutal punishment for his failure to kill Wick, which includes the killing of his loyal aid Charon, and the near complete destruction of his hotel. A new representative from the High Table is given unlimited resources to kill Wick, which leads him to Japan and to finding solace with an old friend. Sadly another old friend is forced out of retirement to kill him, the charismatic and lethal Caine. Things escalate in Japan resulting in the death of Wick's friend who offered him shelter, while in the aftermath of these events, John is forced to figure out a way to stop being a target of the High Table. Winston volunteers a solution, one that also benefits him, but it's a solution which will ask quite a bit from Wick himself. 
The John Wick franchise has become a reliable entertainment source, since it essentially manages to be a polished B-movie experience, where characters are succinctly introduced only to be quickly discarded later on. The films in this series and its creators make no qualm about their goal, which is a mix of operatic and ballet like violence, with the narrative of this loner, lethal and anti-hero who walks the Earth aiming to find a peace that stubbornly eludes him. If the past films took the character on a world quest, this chapter doesn't diminish the scope of that intent, but this time around introduces longer fighting sequences, some of which seem gratuitously extended. One of the aspects that was always efficiently entertaining about these films is the fact that they don't take themselves very seriously, but also because they're economical in the action set pieces they set in motion. This chapter however has a bit of an indulgent side to it, trying to demonstrate Wick's vulnerabilities, which in hindsight proves to add very little to the narrative or even the outcome of the film itself (and this is one of the downfalls of this film, too much of the same). Much like the previous features, Keanu Reeves takes the mantle of leading the action and providing both the weary and wiry demeanor to the central character, with good support from Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Donnie Yen. Sadly the always reliable Bill Skarsgard has little to do and offer with his villainous character. The cinematography from Dan Laustsen is stunning, as is the stunt work on display. Entertaining and worth watching, but the narrative and its illustration on the screen are starting to need a bit of a rethink.