John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

Often times when a movie series has gone on as long as “John Wick” has, it offers diminishing returns. Thankfully, though the saga of “John Wick” has only amped up its game the further along it gets in the storyline of the “Baba Yaga” and “John Wick: Chapter 4” really is a massive step up. While the previous three films in the series have been monstrous, “John Wick Chapter 4” is thankfully something completely different while also it embraces what made the aforementioned movies so dazzling and engrossing. The narrative furthers Wick’s transformation in this world from an ex-assassin trying to live his life, as someone who is trying to re-claim his life.

With the price on his head ever increasing, legendary hit man John Wick takes his fight against the High Table global as he seeks out the most powerful players in the underworld, from New York to Paris to Japan to Berlin. He comes under target by a new menace, the calculating Marquis De Gramont, a sadistic mastermind who enlists the help of a skilled blind assassin who also happens to be an old comrade of Wick’s.

Wick knows he has to live for something, and he does it to help pay homage to the memory of his lost wife. Where as the first film was a revenge film, “Chapter 4” further explores the fall out of that revenge spree, examining how his personal journey set a tidal wave in to the underground syndicate of hit men and women. This time Wick is tired and has been biding his time, anxiously looking for a way to settle his debt with the “High Chair,” an unseen council of individuals that control the network of assassins. When he realizes he has to seek them out, that aspiration becomes ever more difficult with the introduction of the Marquis. Keanu Reeves is as superb as ever reprising the role of John Wick, but the true glory lies in the supporting cast of characters that inhabit his world.

Donny Yen is an absolute scene stealer as Caine, a blind ex hit man who bears an immense skill with his sword. There’s also Shamier Anderson as Mr. Nobody, a tracker and bounty hunter who unleashes fury with the help of his loyal attack dog. If anyone in this series was deserving of a spin off, it’s Mr. Nobody. There’s also the great debut of Rina Sawayama as Akira, a conflicted warrior who is eager to protect her father Koji in the midst of this ongoing war. The highlight though is Bill Skarsgård as the Marquis De Gramont. In a series filled with dazzling and intimidating villains, Skarsgård rises to the challenge to play such an intimidating mastermind who is never above inflicting punishment on his nemeses.

He’s as devious as he is clever, and he really does offer up a valid threat for Wick. As usual, the sequel really offers up a buffet of dazzling and spectacular action scenes (Chad Stahelski’s direction is just incredible), all of which involve hand to hand combat, sword play, amazing gun fights, and even some car chases across the streets of Paris. My favorite fight sequence involves Wick fending off armed soldiers with a gun and a pair of nunchaku. It’s a pitch perfect series of fight sequences that just perfectly put Jeremy Marinas’ top notch fight choreography on display. There are even some fun Easter eggs (I loved the tribute to “The Warriors”).

“Chapter 4” thankfully doesn’t falter in the fourth leg of Wick’s story, heightening the stakes, and dialing up the urgency to where we’re never really sure if Wick is going to survive to see the end. “Chapter 4” offers up an indefinite end of the road for Wick’s journey to re-claim his life and hopefully find another chapter. While I’m sure we’re in store for more carnage from John Wick, “Chapter 4” is an absolutely excellent, masterful final lap for the series with Reeves dedicating himself to the action movie art form.