John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023): The Most Action-Packed, Exciting John Wick Yet
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is directed by Chad Stahelski, who has directorial credits on all of the previous installments in the franchise. This film stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ip Man), Bill Skarsgård (It, Barbarian), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Ant-Man and the Wasp), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat, Bullet Train), Shamier Anderson (Goliath, Invasion), Lance Reddick (The Wire, Bosch), Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins (Criminal, American Assassin), and Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). This film centers around John Wick as he tries to get revenge against the High Table and take down anyone who stands in his way.
I love the “John Wick” franchise. One thing that stands out about this franchise that separates itself from several others is that not only is the first movie good, but every sequel that comes out is a step up from its predecessor. I enjoyed “John Wick: Chapter 2” more than the original, and I found “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” more entertaining than “John Wick: Chapter 2.” The objective of a Hollywood sequel is to, perhaps stereotypically, go bigger, but it does not always mean it is better than what came before. “John Wick” has gone bigger in its two sequels to extremely pleasing results. From one film to the next, the action sequences are incredible, the cinematography is amazing, and the lore is fascinating. And it happens to be all the more so with each go. That said, after two successful sequels, I wondered if the franchise ran out of steam. I thought “John Wick: Chapter 4” was just going to be a cash grab that would make most of its money from name recognition. I wondered how they could possibly top the other films.
Now that I saw the film, I can confirm “John Wick: Chapter 4” not only tops its predecessors. It stabs them, shoots them, and sends them tumbling off a cliff. It makes those films inferior and asserts its dominance. “John Wick: Chapter 4” is easily my favorite film in the franchise, and I did not think I would come to that conclusion a year or two ago.
This film is the fourth installment of an ongoing franchise that has made a decent chunk of change. It stars a well-known actor who has continued to maintain his relevancy in an extended career. Some may say that making this film implies Lionsgate would be, understandably, playing things safe. I understand why they made it, but I was not sure if I wanted it, that is until I watched it. I thought when they were making this film, it was a sign that “Hollywood” happened to be running out of ideas. After seeing this masterpiece, and I mean that in every sense of the word, I can confirm that Hollywood is not running out of ideas. Because this movie came up with a buttload of fresh new ways to kill people.
This movie has a great list of characters between all of the returning faces like Keanu Reeves as John Wick, Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King, Ian McShane as Winston, and Lance Reddick as Charon (RIP). But the newcomers manage to steal some of the spotlight for themselves. Donnie Yen, who may be at risk for being typecast as a visually impaired, skilled fighter, is brilliant in this film. I loved every minute he was on screen. Scott Adkins does a great job with his limited screentime as Killa, who is only enhanced by some excellent makeup and costume design. Did I mention assassin dogs?! Bring on the assassin dogs!
Over the past few years, we have practically been in a Keanussance with the previous “John Wick” installments amongst other projects like “Toy Story 4,” “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” “The Matrix Resurrections,” and even the “Cyberpunk 2077” video game. Of all of the projects Keanu Reeves has done in recent years, this is the best one. It is up there with “Point Break” and the original “Matrix” installment as one of the greatest Keanu Reeves projects of all time. But if I have to be real, I should not solely rely on encouraging my readers to take a shot every time I gloriously say the name Keanu Reeves, because the real stars of the show are the people behind the camera. From director Chad Stahelski, who has consistently delivered one good time after the next with this franchise. To writers Shay Hatten and Michael Finch, who have conceived my favorite screenplay in the “John Wick” franchise since the simple but effective original. To cinematographer Dan Laustsen, who has distributed some of the most palatable shots in an action movie to date. To production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, who has built a multitude of sets that do not deserve to look as good as they do in a movie where tons of people get killed by a guy who has successfully utilized a pencil as a weapon.
This is one of the most thrilling action flicks ever put to screen, and it is not only because Keanu Reeves takes names in corners that you did not know existed, but because so much care was put into each frame. If anything, the progression of the “John Wick” movies reminds me of “Mission: Impossible” in recent years. From the third movie and onward, each one felt like a step up from its predecessor. For “John Wick,” each movie feels like a step up from the original, which is already a decent time.
I have said that this is my favorite “John Wick” script since the original. Part of it is because, like all the other installments, it maintains a sense of atmosphere that makes a series like this something of its own. But also because it is the closest the franchise has come to making me relate to or feel strong emotions for the characters. While the first “John Wick” is my least favorite in the franchise, I will not deny what made that first movie work is its ability to make me root for “John Wick” over his loss. It is all the more significant when considering that I am probably the furthest thing from a dog person. The sequels are great, but I remember them more for what the characters did as opposed to why they did it. What makes the fourth movie the best one is that it takes the substance of the first movie and the style that has improved from one installment to the next and showcases what the full potential of what this franchise could be. This is the ultimate “John Wick” experience from scene one to the final frame.
If I had anything else of note to say, I would recommend maybe watching the other movies before this one. For starters, they’re good movies. But I also bring this up because there may be some lore to pick up on before this fourth film. If I had any problems… They are not coming to me. I was worried about the runtime. However, this movie flew by, because I was having fun. That is ultimately what “John Wick” is. And between Keanu Reeves’s trademarks, his dynamite chemistry with Laurence Fishburne, all of the action, this is the epitome of fun. These types of movies are not for everyone. My mom would not like this film. But if you are an action junkie and refuse to watch “John Wick: Chapter 4,” you are missing out on the pinnacle of what this genre is capable of. From a technical perspective, this movie checks every box and receives extra credit. The sound design might end up being the best of the year depending on what comes out after this. Every frame looks like a painting. Some of the music is quite good too. The lighting is balls out and spectacular. At times, the stunts made me wince. I have enjoyed all of the “John Wick” installments, but as far as this movie goes, I am bending over for it like it is my lord and savior.
In the end, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a thing of beauty, a thing of splendor. It is something I will be thinking about for a long time. The track record for “John Wick” over the years has reminded me of the track record for “Mission: Impossible” over the years. It gets better every time. Keanu Reeves has personally earned a seat at my High Table. When it comes to movies, few things beat a surprise. Few things surpass the time when a movie comes out of nowhere, I am not looking forward to it, but I see it anyway, and it ends up being one of the best things I have watched in recent memory. I was technically looking forward to “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but not on the level that I was going into “Chapter 3.” That said, this is better than chapters 1, 2, 3, all of them. Everything has led to this, the ultimate “John Wick” experience. I do not know if “John Wick: Chapter 4” will be this year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Avatar: The Way of Water” as a select big budget, popular film that shoehorns its way into the Best Picture slate at the Oscars, but we shall see. I am thinking this franchise is not only back, but better than ever! I am going to give “John Wick: Chapter 4” a 10/10!
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now!
Thanks for reading this review! I have a couple more reviews coming up very soon including one for “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which I plan to see tonight. Also coming soon, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which hits theaters next week. Speaking of which, I figured with the brand new “Mario” film coming out, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to go back and review 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.,” which I have to remind myself, unfortunately exists. I just rewatched the film earlier this week and I will be sharing my thoughts on it soon. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “John Wick: Chapter 4?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of the “John Wick” movies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!