Max at the Movies: John Wick: Chapter 4


Matthew Ball

Lance Reddick, who played Charon in all four John Wick films, passed away on March 17 at the age of 61.

Max Spiegel, Staff Writer

Four years after “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum” hit the theaters, John Wick returns to the big screen with “John Wick: Chapter 4.” Does this high energy action film reach the heights of its predecessors, or is the franchise starting to run out of steam?

The film sees the return of Chad Stahelski in the directors’ chair, as well as the return of Keanu Reeves as the title character, Ian McShane as Winston, Laurence Fishbourne as Bowery King, and the late Lance Reddick as Charon. The film also stars Bill Skarsgard as Marquis, Hiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu, Donnie Yen as Caine, Shamier Anderson as Tracker, Scott Adkins as Killa and Clancy Brown as Harbinger. The film tells the story of John Wick uncovering a path to defeating The High Table, but before he can earn his freedom, he must face off against a new enemy with alliances across the globe, and forces that turn John’s old friends into foes. 

When it comes to my background with the “John Wick” franchise, I had always heard about it, but the concept of a man being out for revenge over a dog dying always sounded ridiculous to me. However, when I watched “John Wick” for the first time, I was blown away by the film with the top notch action scenes as well as the incredible world building that was established and expanded upon in the next two films. I became a really big fan of the franchise, although I don’t think “John Wick: Chapter 2” or “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum” have reached the heights of the original, while still being great action movies. So, when they finally announced that “John Wick: Chapter 4” was happening, I was really excited for it, but not expecting it to be as good as the first “John Wick.” However, when the trailers for the film dropped and early reactions gave the film high praise, I started to get more and more excited for the movie, to the point where I thought this could be the sequel that finally tops the original.

I will just say this right off the bat, not only do I think that this is easily the best John Wick movie, but I think that this is one of the best action movies I have ever seen. The action in this movie was jaw dropping from start to finish, even having me question how the stunt team behind this film was able to pull it off. The action sequences are in focus and shot with long takes and wide angles, and Keanu Reeves was fully committed by doing 90% of his own stunts at the age of 58. Action sequences like this are why the Academy should consider giving a best stunt work category for the Oscars in the foreseeable future. Even with the three hour runtime, the action is nonstop from beginning to end and making the time pass by fast.Very few movies I would say need to be 3 hours or longer with their runtimes, but this film for me is an exception to that. When it comes to the story of this film, this is probably the best written story since the original. Both “John Wick: Chapter 2” and “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum” both had cliffhanger ending or unresolved plotlines, but this film had a clear beginning, middle and a definitive conclusion. The story felt consistent throughout, had a clear motivation for the antagonists and had plenty of action featuring John Wick beating people up nonstop.

Honestly, I have no real big criticisms of the movie, however I do think that this film made the previous John Wick movie pointless. The previous entry started with John Wick on the run and ended with a cliffhanger that could have resolved the franchise. This film also starts with John Wick on the run, however this film had a definitive conclusion to the plotline. This didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the movie per say, but it does make the previous film feel unnecessary. Also, even though the action in this film is some of the best I have ever seen, there are definitely a lot of moments in the movie where in real life John Wick would have died numerous times. It was still entertaining to watch, but for those who can’t accept that John Wick couldn’t survive any of this in real life, this would probably bother them quite a bit. 

With the small nitpicks aside, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is one of the best action movies I have ever seen. The action sequences in this film were the best in the franchise, from a series that already had incredible action sequences. The story was consistent throughout and came to the best conclusion of any of the John Wick films. Even though John Wick wouldn’t be able to survive any of the action sequences in this film in real life, this still makes for an entertaining and exciting action film. “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a must watch for fans of the franchise as well as action films in general, and this is easily the best film I have seen in 2023.