HOLLYWOOD—I love a great action film, but I will be the first to admit, they just don’t make action movies like they used to. I always go back to “Die Hard” because it has that high-octane action it doesn’t apologize for. We can now add another franchise to the list, “John Wick.” They give the audience exactly what they want, and this fourth outing, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is one of the best in the franchise America.
I cannot recall the last time I was so entertained in a theater seat watching an action flick that delivered utter car chases, explosive gun fire, stunts that leave your mouth open and hand-to-hand combat that is riveting to witness.
Yes, you would think in the fourth outing that the narrative would become a bit stale or boring, but not this time around as our hero John Wick portrayed by Keanu Reeves still has a bounty on his head. This fourth outing finds Mr. Wick still a target of the High Table and its elusive, dangerous assassins, which includes a ton of people that want to see him dead including Caine (Donnie Yen), who is a blind assassin, Mr. Nobody/The Tracker (Shamier Anderson) and the formidable foe in the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard), who wants Wick dead people, and is the big baddie this time around.
Yen is a treat as a trained killer is lacking one sense (he’s blind people), but his other four more than make up for that deficiency. Anderson shines in a role that you don’t expect, and Skarsgard proves you don’t have to be dressed as a clown to be wickedly evil. John is not fighting this battle alone, he has allies in the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), Shiamazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Rina Sawayama (Akira), Killa Karkan (Scott Adkins) and Winston Scott (Ian McShane).
It is amazing how this fourth outing has a fair balance of heroes and villains. Usually as sequels progress they throw all the rules out and just go bigger and bolder with no purpose. Not this time around. The action is hands down a thrill-a-minute. I have not been so giddy in years and some of the sequences without spoiling much for the viewer are something I’ve never seen on the big screen. Director Chad Stahelski knows exactly what he is doing behind the screen by staging the action in a way that makes the audience fully immersed in the madness.
The performances from all the actors including the late Lance Reddick is chef’s kiss. If I had to be picky, some of the fight sequences are big longer than they need to be. This isn’t “The Matrix” where you’re seeing some sort of epic visuals unlike ever before. However, the visual effects are stellar here, but that run time of 2 hours and 49 minutes can be daunting for some people. Remember this isn’t “The Dark Knight,” “Avatar” or some other elongated flick like “Titanic.” The move entertained from start to finish, so I was not bored a single bit, but 3 hours for any movie is long and the slight tedium of the battles could wane the interest of some viewers.
The movie has a fantastic climax that is bloody to the core, but the question everyone wants to know is will there be a fifth outing. Hmm, I cannot spoil the ending, but I will say if the box-office receipts are any indicator, the studio and filmmakers may find a way to cook up another narrative for “John Wick: Chapter 4” to get fans back to the theater.