How does John Wick: Chapter 4 hold up to the rest of the franchise?


Image courtesy of Lionsgate Films and Mathew Dickman

The movie series stars Keanu Reeves as the title character, John Wick.

Mathew Dickman, Staff Writer

John Wick: Chapter 4, released in theaters on March 24, 2023, is a worthy addition to the franchise. Chapter 4 is overflowing with action, excitement, fun characters, charm, and emotion. Though this film has some of the weakest writing of the franchise, it definitely cements itself as a must watch for John Wick fans. 

The series began in 2014, telling the story of a former assassin, played by Keanu Reeves, hunting down the mobsters who killed his dog and stole his car. Despite its modest budget, John Wick impressed audiences with its superb action, intriguing world, and relatable love of dogs. The following sequels have only grown in success as they continue to follow Wick as he attempts to once again escape the assassin world. This fourth film is director Chad Stelensky’s most ambitious work yet, evidenced by its hundred million dollar budget and nearly three hour runtime. 

The reason to see a John Wick film is for the exquisite action sequences, and luckily this entry delivers. Most of the moments of the movie features exciting hand to hand combat, car chases, knife fights, and shoot outs. Stelensky’s experience as a former stuntman has allowed him to expertly film and craft fantastic sequences. His commitment to practical effects and stunts is commendable and adds a level of realism. While most fight scenes stay engaging as they play out, some could have been trimmed to avoid becoming repetitive. Nevertheless, an action movie having too much action could be seen as a positive. 

A movie’s action scenes would be little without interesting characters, something John Wick: Chapter 4 has no shortage of. From the heroes to villains, most characters in the story are well defined, interesting, and fun to watch. The stand outs were Caine, played by martial art legend Donnie Yen, and Tracker, played by Shamier Anderson. Both new additions to the series, they stood out as sympathetic, antagonistic forces that one might often find themselves rooting for. Keanu Reeves is excellent in the action scenes, and his cheesy line readings are a highlight of the movie. Finally, the late Lance Reddick gives a short and sweet final performance for the franchise.

One of the most impressive elements of the movie was its technical aspects. Every shot in the film was meticulously planned out to be as visually pleasing as possible. These beautiful shots were enhanced by the lighting and breathtaking locations used throughout the film. The movie’s editing is also perfect, always keeping the action easy to watch and avoiding dizzying quick-cuts. 

The main issue with the film is its overall narrative. The third movie ended on a cliffhanger that teased an intriguing future for the series. However, this film did not go in that direction and instead opted to introduce a different and arguably less interesting threat for Wick to face. This unnatural narrative shift was noticeable in the first act of the film, where Wick did not have any concrete reasons behind his actions and choices. The film also hinges its core plot on a confusing rule of the assassin world never mentioned in the previous films. These flaws made the film’s ending not as emotionally poignant as it could have been. 

Overall, John Wick: Chapter 4 has the highest highs and lowest lows of the franchise thus far. The film does not completely outdo its predecessors because of its noticeable story issues and inconsistent pacing. However, the pure spectacle of the fight scenes are unrivaled by anything released in recent years. The action and beautiful cinematography make it a must watch for fans, and anyone looking for a great time at the cinema.