Film Review: “John Wick: Chapter 4” Proves an Adequate and Entertaining Series Conclusion
Written by: Adam Vaughn | March 23rd, 2023
John Wick: Chapter 4 (Chad Stahelski, 2023) 3 out of 4 stars.
To my surprise, I finally get to see a rare moment in Hollywood where a franchise knows when to quit, and the exciting conclusion of the John Wick films is clear proof that director Chad Stahelski is self-aware and chooses to end the story on a high note. John Wick: Chapter 4 finds various ways to utilize beautiful aesthetics, powerful action sequences, and a sustainable plot that succeeds in finalizing its protagonist’s journey as the world’s most formidable assassin. While the fourth installment is far from perfect, it does better than most fourth films at not only continuing the narrative, but giving it its (hopefully) final resting place.
The film picks up with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) very much still on the run, this time with The High Table on his heels worse than ever before. After recovering from his encounter with Winston (Ian McShane), Wick is brought back into action thanks to the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne), and resumes his revenge against the High Table. But after a showdown with The Elder (George Georgiou), Wick finds himself a new final adversary, the Table’s cunning and resourceful Marquis (Bill Skarsgård, Naked Singularity). With a collection of Wick’s finest enemies—and former allies—at his disposal, including Wick’s old ally Caine (Donny Yen, Raging Fire), Wick must finish off the last of the ruthless High Table elite, or die trying.
Without a doubt, the art direction and overall cinematography are incredibly strong and beautiful elements, with fun scenes like the Osaka Continental showdown, hunting down and killing “Killa,” (Scott Adkins, Accident Man), and various other moments with major attention to detail. As any fan of the John Wick series would expect, former stunt artist Stahelski spares no expense at making his fight choreography some of the best possible, with riveting sequences of intense battles between Wick and a slew of enemies. Certainly the film’s momentum and video-game-esque style brings the film to full fruition.
As a work of cinema, the fourth John Wick movie is not entirely fanciful, grounded in the focused objective of having all loose ends tied up for the conclusion of the series. Stahelski is fully aware that it will be a difficult mission to top the success of the previous installments, and works to fine tune the story as much as possible. Admittedly, there is a lot to unpack when seeing John Wick: Chapter 4, and the film loses points for tackling a vast amount of content at a breakneck pace, having little time to stop and fully analyze many fascinating characters. While this doesn’t necessarily take away from the entertainment, it does let us know that action takes precedence over storytelling, throwing various characters on and off the screen. And as the viewer starts off with the fourth of the series, Reeves’ John Wick one liners becomes a little less endearing and more comical this time around.
Regardless, the movie certainly lives up to the expectations of the narrative, even if it never necessarily exceeds them. While certain aspects of writing and character development fall short, one does not necessarily go into a John Wick film with the expectations of crisp writing and deep, insightful themes. All the same, John Wick 4 keeps the momentum from its predecessors and immerses the viewer in the world of hidden assassins for one last, satisfying time.