John Wick Chapter 4

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 is the culmination of one of the great movie series of our time, and a masterwork of its genre, one of the few American action movies to arguably outdo overseas epics like THE RAID 2, THE NIGHT COMES FOR US and THE VILLAINESS. Like its predecessors it expands on JOHN WICK’s distinct style of martial-arts-and-guns ultraviolence, introduces colorful new allies and enemies, and invents even more astounding ideas for types of action spectacle you haven’t seen before. But this one adds an extra layer of emotion through heroic bloodshed style bonding and a deeper realization that everything John Wick does in these movies only digs his hole deeper.

I’ll warn you before I get into the biggest spoilers, but as usual this review will be better for reading after you’ve seen it. If you’re just wondering how good it is compared to other chapters, I believe the first film stands on its own and then the sequels get better the more spectacular they become. So CHAPTER 3 was the best but has now been usurped by CHAPTER 4. (But I love the Halle Berry and Mark Dacascos stuff in 3 so much it’s not an easy choice.)

Seeing CHAPTER 4 in an Imax theater was great because it opens with that old training montage classic – bloody fists punching a post wrapped in rope – and the hits were so deafeningly thunderous that laughter and chatter about it spread across the audience. The first act kicks off with a joke about LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (the Bowery King’s lighter cutting to a wide shot of a desert), the third is built around an homage to THE WARRIORS (a radio DJ speaks to assassins in code as they try to thwart John Wick’s journey across Paris), and I think that unlikely pairing of reference points sums up director Chad Stahelski’s ambitions pretty well.

Yes, this one is 169 minutes long. Obviously that’s way too short, but we can’t have everything. Within that time it manages to pack more than a dozen action sequences, many of which on their own put to shame what you can see in the full running time of the average Hollywood picture. After a brief (and humble by WICK standards) opening horseback shootout where Wick assassinates The Elder (George Georgiou, CLOSE) there’s some quiet (high) table setting that’s the only part someone might consider slow. In response to the killing, this prick called The Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard, BARBARIAN) has been deputized by the High Table to put an end to John Wick (or, as he explains it, “the idea of John Wick”). He punishes Winston by blowing up the Continental, and worse. And he assigns the blind swordsman Caine (Donny motherfuckin Yen!) to find and kill Wick.

The Marquis is the kind of villain who’s all dressed up like a prince or a private school kid, eating a slice of decadent cake while informing Caine that he has to kill his old friend or they’ll kill his daughter. Couldn’t even wait to have the cake after the meeting.

He doesn’t seem to be a fighter, but he has a squad of burly enforcers in suits, led by Chidi (holy shit it’s Marko Zaror) doing his bidding. They show up with Caine at the Osaka Continental Hotel and ask to see the manager. That would be another newly introduced old friend of John Wick, Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada, MESSAGE FROM SPACE, ROYAL WARRIORS, RINGU, THE LAST SAMURAI, SPEED RACER, THE WOLVERINE, MORTAL KOMBAT, ARMY OF THE DEAD, BULLET TRAIN), currently on the roof surrounded by cherry blossoms having tea with Wick, much to the consternation of his concierge/daughter Akira (pop singer Rina Sawayama). Against Akira’s better judgment, Shimazu helps Wick, and sets his hotel staff (who arm themselves with swords, bows, throwing stars and guns and use modernized ninja, samurai and sumo techniques) to battle a High Table army in tactical armor with demon masks built into the helmets.

This could be the climactic battle in many movies, but here it’s just the start, and they manage to top it many times over as the movie progresses. Highlights here include Akira adeptly using her bow as a blunt weapon, and Wick finding a pair of nunchakas when a glass case gets smashed open during a fight in a weapons museum. He hammers these guys so hard, and I’ve never seen nunchakas seem so painful. (Don’t worry, they give him a chance to spin them around too.)

Most importantly the Osaka battle introduces us to the abilities and methods of Caine, and gives us only the first duel between him and Wick, conversing about their situation as they fight. This kind of mid-battle chit chat could be glib and sarcastic, but we know it’s sincere when Wick falls and Caine has to ask “Are you dead, John?” He stays down and tries to be silent but he absolutely has a shot at Caine that he does not take. And with John Wick, that’s not nerves. That’s a choice.

We also meet a new character called the Tracker (Shamier Anderson, DESTROYER, BRUISED), who has the excellent gimmick that he’s a highly skilled tracker and marksman who’s following Wick but not trying to kill him yet because he’s waiting for the bounty to get to a certain amount. But he’ll often shoot other people coming after Wick to protect his prize. Also he has an attack dog accompanying him at all times, so we get a taste of that vicious ball-biting dog action that stole the show in part 3.

After Wick gets away he’s contacted by Winston, who suggests what becomes his mission for the movie. The unemployed former hotel manager claims that according to “The Old Rules,” Wick can earn his freedom by killing the Marquis in a duel. Only catch is he would have to be a member of a crime family for the challenge to be accepted, and his ticket was torn (long story and also I don’t quite remember it because I haven’t watch part 3 in a while) so his first stop is to the Ruska Roma headquarters in Berlin to regain membership, which they offer in trade for going to a huge dance club and killing the gangster Killa (well I’ll be damned, it’s Scott Adkins). We always wanted Adkins to have a showcase in a big budget movie like this, but we did not expect he’d be kind of a DICK TRACY/SIN CITY type cartoon character in a fat suit! Whether you enjoy that or not, Adkins certainly makes an impression as a funny, sleazy character who is also a threat, and sells the weight of the character while doing his moves. I guess the idea is that for normal people who aren’t familiar with Scott Adkins it’s gonna be a shock when this guy starts kicking ass, like when the mayor starts dancing in Michael Jackson’s GHOSTS.

Wick chases Killa through the club, takes a hell of a fall over a ledge into a sort of fountain area and looks up to see the gangster waving his men toward him. It reminds me of the all-timer opening of BLADE when the techno music builds as he awaits their arrival and an explosion of violence. But it’s much more dreamlike as he stands between artificial waterfalls, the view-obstructing water and loud music overwhelming the senses, the crowd of dancers completely ignoring the ax fight and dancing hard right next to it. They do eventually start to clear out, so I guess they were just in the zone before.

By now I’m so used to these times when my favorite action guys end up in some big Hollywood movie and usually I have to settle for it just being cool to see them up there. Good for him – he was in that one little part. Yen was treated pretty well by ROGUE ONE and THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, as far as these things go, but Adkins in particular has had these roles just standing in the background, or having his mouth sealed shut, or getting beat up by a magic cape. And Zaror hasn’t even gotten anything that good. So it is so satisfying to see all three of them get to shine here. Yen is almost the co-lead, gets to have multiple fights with Reeves and still be his brother and have us root for him. Adkins has the smallest role of the three but the most showy. Zaror is the one I most worried would be wasted, but he’s the top ranking henchman, featured throughout, getting many fights and stunts before finally (spoiler) biting it (twice, it seems like) after the rookie mistake of harming a dog in a JOHN WICK movie.

So they all get to genuinely showcase their martial arts, they all get fun characters to play, and Yen really becomes the heart of the movie because he’s this new character who we instantly love, and get to see as a reflection of Wick, in the exact same quandary. They somehow keep fighting to the death without turning on each other. They can’t judge. They’re still friends. It’s beautiful.

That WARRIORS-in-Paris section, where the Marquis is trying to prevent Wick from making it to the church where the duel will take place at dawn, contains three (3) separate action sequences that made me think both “I’ve never seen anything like this” and “I have no idea how they did this.” Skip this and the next paragraph if you don’t want to know what they are, but otherwise it’s these: the fist, gun, car and dog fight in the midst of traffic at the Arc de Triomphe. Holy shit. Dodging cars, sliding and crashing, being hit and thrown through the air by vehicles, Chidi slamming Wick against a car. Next is the oner shootout using the “Dragon’s Breath” gun that blasts people so hard they catch on fire, as the camera hovers above and watches from a God’s-eye-view – it’s reportedly inspired by a video game, but it made me think of Gaspar Noe’s ENTER THE VOID. After that is maybe my favorite scene, when it seems like he’s made it to the church in time, he just has to make it up 212 steps with severe injuries – and then an army of gunmen come down the stairs shooting at him.

There’s a great stunt early in the movie, which you might’ve seen clips of, where a guy rolls down an escalator at the hotel. It seems so impressive at the time and then we see this scene, where dozens of different people not wearing visible armor and helmets get shot or hit and roll down stone stairs. It just happens over and over. In a way this sequence is John Wick’s story in miniature: hobbled, outnumbered, running out of time, going uphill, some of the enemies he kills falling down on top of him, and as soon as he seems to be almost to the top he gets knocked all the way back to the bottom. (Man, I could not stop laughing when that happened. The combination of jaw-dropping stuntwork and an absolutely immaculate joke – heaven.) And could there be anything more beautiful than the old friend he’s about to duel to the death, who we don’t want to see lose either, showing up so they can fight side by side to get up there together? No, of course not. But we do get another antagonist lending a hand because Wick saved his dog’s life. Which is pretty damn good. Man, this is a great movie.

Instantly legendary scene

These ended up being more like the MATRIX series than I realized until now – both have a perfect standalone first film followed by a trilogy of increasingly ambitious sequels expanding on the world it takes place in and exploring the ideas behind it. JOHN WICK, of course, connected with audiences more widely and maintained its interest in one-upping itself spectacle-wise to the end. But also, without me really noticing it, it sort of developed its own version of raging against the machine.

JOHN WICK’s society of elite assassins is a world that you’re not supposed to be able to leave, and yet you can’t love someone outside of it unless you do leave. (To quote Boomhauer, “In a world where love is against the law…”) Even having loved ones or friends within that world can be a liability; many of John’s old friends do help him out, but that’s against the rules, they have to risk everything for it, and all of them pay dearly. So this is a world that stands in opposition to life in more than one sense: the literal, moral sense that their business is murdering people, and the more abstract sense that its rules prevent any type of human connections.

We also know that this world is based on “The Old Rules,” the ideas of some assholes from a long time ago, who made sure it was governed by “The High Table,” ultra-rich European pricks who lack the honor or skills of the killers whose work they live off of, who are so above the law that even the most legendary killer beneath them always thought the idea of holding them accountable via duel was a myth. So John Wick and his peers live empty lives of luxury (or squalor in the case of the Bowery King’s people), doing evil to prop up an unaccountable aristocracy. Seems familiar. Unfortunately, in this world there’s no The One to lead us into the clouds. There’s only death.

(Okay now I’m going into some analysis that requires MAJOR SPOILERS about the end of the movie. Just go see it and come back. It’s less than three hours.)

JOHN WICK is a perfect revenge movie, while the sequels are all about blowback and escalation and never ending consequences. No, of course we don’t need a movie to tell us that revenge is bad, but it’s not so much a moral of the movies as an underlying philosophy. A world view. I like that these are A+ action blockbusters that happen to have very strong beliefs about the ultimate results of their extremely cool and entertaining violence. We’ll have a blast watching it but it won’t redeem, satisfy or help any of the characters who commit it.

CHAPTER 3 ended with a cliffhanger. Winston shot Wick to appease representatives of the High Table – he fell off the roof of the Continental, bouncing off buildings and fire escapes, but somehow survived and was taken underground to the Bowery King, and they agreed to join forces against the High Table. I assumed that would be his goal for the whole CHAPTER 4 – instead, it opens with the two deciding it’s time, and Wick heading out to the desert and quickly murdering The Elder.

He gets that revenge right at the beginning, and immediately everyone he still loves suffers for it. The Continental is destroyed. Charon is executed. His uncle Peyotr is murdered. Caine is forced out of retirement. By meeting with Shimazu he dooms him to lose his hotel, and then his life. Before that he tells him he’s sorry for getting him into this, but he can’t bring himself to say anything to Shimazu’s daughter. She says bitterly that everything he touches dies, and he knows that’s true. And always will be.

So in the end, when he outsmarts the Marquis and manages to kill him, successfully gaining his freedom and leaving Caine alive and free, it seems too good to be true. And then he sits down and dies, and it’s the happiest honest ending available to him. I’d watch these movies forever, so I was certainly waiting for some sign that oh yeah, just kidding, he’s not dead. And of course when you get to the end of the credits and the only ever post-credits scene in a JOHN WICK movie pops up, you get half a second to believe that’s what we’re in for.

Then you see Caine’s daughter and yes, of course, we knew this was coming. Akira goes after Caine for killing her dad. Like she promised she would. Like he told her he expected. Some have interpreted this as another cliffhanger, setup for a spinoff or something, but I honestly don’t believe that’s what it is. It’s just an acknowledgment that this shit never ends. Caine won’t ever magically find peace either. It’s too late for that. Unfortunately.

I wish I could figure out where I heard it, but there was an interview with Stahelski (after CHAPTER 3 I believe) where he seemed to say the cliffhanger endings weren’t about setting up the next one as much as his belief that there could be no happy ending, no resolution for someone who has done the things John Wick has done. I was impressed that he took it so seriously, and sure enough he stayed double true to that conviction.

[Update: Fred Topel did an interview for Monsters & Critics where Stahelski said something similar:

M&C: Do you expect each John Wick will end on a cliffhanger to set up the next film?

CS: That’s a good question too. I don’t really plan them as cliffhangers. Honestly, as a director, I don’t see another way to end a movie with a character like this. Surely John is neither deserved nor, I don’t think, entitled to a ride off into the sunset ending or fall back in love or have a fulfilling ending. I think the theme of finality and consequence hit really hard at home when it comes to that. I think he’s just had a really bad day and he might have a few good days in the interim but ultimately, you do bad things, bad things happen. So while concluding one chapter of his life, he has to go into the next one carrying the consequences of what has already been done. If that seems like a cliffhanger, I get it but it’s meant more to be an unfulfilled ending.

Thanks Fred!]

The first JOHN WICK is such a classic, and it came into the world as an underdog, this really clever story told by stunt veterans making an incredible debut as filmmakers. A breath of fresh air that action movies were really needing. But as a series it has evolved into something we really haven’t seen before – it’s not normal for this genre of American martial-arts-based action, so often relegated to budgets that are miniscule compared even to the Albert Pyun days, to get to work on this scale, with this type of production value. And Stahelski makes the most of that opportunity. Like each of the movies before it, but moreso, JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 is a new classic, a high watermark, an incredible experience that we’re going to keep coming back to, that’s sure to inspire so many people making action movies, and we can only wish them luck trying to match that, let alone top it. Stay safe out there, stunt people. And thank you for your service.


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Keanu Reeves –




This entry was posted on Monday, March 27th, 2023 at 7:32 am and is filed under Reviews, Action, Martial Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

58 Responses to “John Wick Chapter 4”

  1. That decadent cake looked tasty.

  2. Okay, so I guess I’m going to see John Wick 4…

    Question: Do I need to see 3? I mean, I really don’t care about absorbing all the lore about the Continental Hotel, or whatever. I’m just want to know if I’ll be lost going into part 4.

    I saw the first (it was fine. Any 10 minutes of the movie was the entire movie. But it was short, and didn’t take itself too seriously). Saw part two–more or less–I’ll admit to spacing way out by the end (watching Keanu apply his magical John Wick Wrist-Lock™–that instantly and permanently either paralyzes stuntmen, or causes them to go limp–for seemingly over three hours, caused my mind to wander), but I’m pretty sure I remember everyone wanting to kill Wick by the end. I assume this is how 3 ends as well? Is there anything else?

  3. Really have enjoyed the three previous films and I love the goofy world building. But I found this one to be pretty insufferable. Every action scene is so fucking long and repetitive, with very little variation. Donnie Yen using motion sensors to help him fight—that was great, but the movie has far too little of this imagination. Just reminded me of watching someone else play a FPS video game. I guess I’m an old fogey but I don’t see the incorporation of video game aesthetics into film to be a good thing. Great action scenes need to tell a story or build character. These have none of that, I was so bored. And Bill Skaarsgard needs to be 300% sillier to be effective, he’s just kind of bland here. I didn’t totally hate this because I have no doubt this could be edited down to an excellent 90 minute film but at this length, it doesn’t work at all for me. A bummer.

  4. Det. Sipowicz’s mustache

    March 27th, 2023 at 10:26 am

    Not only do you have everything that Vern describes. But you also get a taste of King of New York style “Larry Fishburne” at the beginning.

    This movie truly has everything.

  5. Awesome review for an awesome movie.

  6. @jojo, I rewatched 3 the evening before going to see 4 and there are a few callbacks but nothing major, mostly stuff like “oh, yeah, the wedding ring, the finger, that’s from the scene with Said Taghmaoui”, or “oh yeah, the broken ticket, that was the Anjelica Huston scene”, so nothing that would make you go “what the fuck is going on here?” Still, why would you NOT want to watch John Wick 3? Anyway 3 ended with everyone being disappointed they didn’t get to kill John Wick themselves, but not quite buying that he was dead anyway, and he wasn’t.

    Anyway, I loved John Wick 4. Perfect movie. Even stuff that usually annoys me in other movies (like “why is that obviously not French actor mangling my language so atrociously?”) was quite charming there somehow. That’s the magic of John Wick.

  7. Such a masterpiece. Incredible to have a serie of movies like these getting better and better, and building up the characters over time. Incredible also to manage to stay creative with the action sequences – i had a smile on my face for the final 30 min or so in Paris. Marvel should learn from this and think on how to stay creative in their MCU.
    Keanu is again absolutely fantastic… thanks for the review Vern, you are spot on!

  8. I’m on camp classic.
    The film did nothing for me at first (I didn’t catch the Lawrence of Arabia reference, but that scene with Wick gunning down Bedouins or whatever just felt completely out of character; it was not an action scene, it was a massacre, and went for way too long. I get that that’s the point, and the movie goes on to address that, but while I was watching it my heart sank a little. And then the movie doubled down on the sort of things that I didn’t like about the worldbuilding (giant hourglass clock! another type of functionary with his own old-timey badge of office! more lexicon and arcane Table rules!). But then shit gets real at the Continental, and I’m fully on board. By the time Akira shows off her fighting style and Yen’s goofball is making Zatoichi look like Mr Magoo, I’m cheering the movie.

    What a glorious, ridiculous thing this is. It leans into its dumb excess, all the time laying the groundwork for a very earnest, effective tale of brotherhood in violence and CONSEQUENCE. I mean, it’s a movie series that on its last two installments feels the need to stop everything just so a couple of characters can say CONSEQUENCES at each other, just so the audience knows there are themes at play here. And it still works! Because it follows through, because it has a sense of humor about itself, and mostly because yeah, the action.

    Sure, maybe the action scenes don’t tell a story in and of themselves, they’re more of a series of incidents (although I would say there’s quite a bit of character work in them). But they are in service to the story, and when the incidents are this exciting, that criticism is honestly alien to me. The videogamey bit (and yes, it is extremely videogamey – there are a lot of games it could be referencing, but I’m 99% sure it’s a homage to Hotline Miami) had me consciously resisting the desire to cheer. Damn near perfect. Most of the action has a rhythm – in fact, the movie itself seemed to me to have a rhythm, a snakey beat weaving its way through different scenes, but the action scenes themselves always found a way to get bigger, louder, and more ridiculous, until you have people bouncing across speeding car hoods on the roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe. (in a scene that was obviously inspired by Frogger, as played by the world’s worst player.)

    (Also, I like how they lean into how normal people don’t seem to react to the world of assassinry – Besides the disco bit, how many crashes and fatal injuries happen in the arc de triomphe scene before anyone even thinks to slow down? This movie really doubles down on its silliness.) Have to confess that the one scene that did seem to drag a little for me was the climactic stairway fight, which by the end felt a little like the spoof of the Untouchables/Potemkin scene in Naked gun. Still, the stunts were so good there, as well as Zaror’s demise, and Keanu’s hilariously sisyphean efforts. Beautiful.

    There is so much to love here.

  9. Just a stunner, I loved it.
    I know a lot of people have griped about the run time. I wondered if someone who isn’t a die hard fan of the series would get a little worn out in the opening 30 minutes or so before it gets rolling. But I don’t care about those folks, honestly. I loved every second of it.
    And it probably wont get its due, but someone needs to give consideration to this film for Oscars noms for production design and cinematography. It is stunningly beautiful, not just the accident scenes.

  10. Toxic, thank you.
    As for:

    Still, why would you NOT want to watch John Wick 3?

    Due to the fact that I found part two so dull and repetitive, then add the rule of diminishing returns (and it seemed that even those who really liked part two stated the returns were indeed diminishing by part three)

  11. That was not my experience at all. I had some minor issues with THREE (cough ZERO cough) but overall it was a major improvement over TWO in terms of scope and variety of action.

  12. Yeah, Two has some nice beats (I like some of the editing and a couple of fights) but it’s a huge dip in quality in the series. I thought that was the consensus, but I may be projecting.
    And part parabellum deserves to be watched just for its action – there’s an essential extended action sequence in the first half hour, and at least one more that’s just as good later on. It’s also when the characters start getting goofier and bigger than life, with (apologies, Mr Majestyk!) a brilliant turn from Mark Dacascos.

  13. I consider this an action classic. One of the best ever made.

    The funeral parlors in Paris must name their Fishing Boats after John after that night.

  14. Vern, could it have been my interview with Stahelski where I asked him about the cliffhangers?

    John Wick 3 director Chad Stahelski talks SuicideGirls, nonbinary actors and Keanu Reeves

    John Wick 3 director Chad Stalehski pays homage to the Suicide Girls and explains the elaborate, intricate acton Keanu Reeves performs in his fight scenes.

    For the Paris streets I’m thinking some of it had to be The Volume with plates of the Arc du Triumph but studio space where they could control the vehicles. I just don’t know how you close down Paris for long enough to do that. But I didn’t get to talk to Chad this time. Instead I did Marko, Shameir, Scott and Hiro. And fortunately Lance just two weeks before he was gone.

  15. I realize the luster of Part 2 seems to diminish in comparison to 3 & 4, but I’d balk at descriptions of it being “dull & repetitive”. I’d credit it for shifting the Moral High Ground away from Wick. It starts the pattern of Wick digging himself into an ever deepening hole even as he puts more dead bodies underground thanks to a stubbornness in disregarding the rigid rules of his own Shadowy World. He refuses to honor blood oath markers, and subsequently calls in markers of his own which put friends and acquaintances and their family in grave danger. So there are layers to these films as they progress and it started with Part 2. That, and the fact that apart from a quibble about the “arm lock, judo throw, bang-bang-bang” repetitions of it’s gun-fu scenes, it remains, like the others in the series, a gorgeous looking, stunningly shot film. The amazing “car-fu” opener, the catacomb shoot-out…they are as meticulously crafted as anything in the sequels, just that Parts 3 & 4 upped it with sheer scale and audacity not to mention leaned more into the martial arts. So, I’d think twice before relegating JW2 as the series “step child”. It rightfully deserves it’s place at the Table.

    Oh…and what must be my strangest reason for loving JW2…I can watch Peter Serafinowicz as the Sommelier any day! The look of bliss on his face when Wick asks what’s for dessert….priceless!

  16. Fred – I’m pretty sure it was a podcast I heard him on, but that quote was perfect so I hope you don’t mind me adding it to the review. Thanks!

  17. @dreadguacamole The gods eye scene according to Chad is a reference toa little known indie game Hong Kong Massacre Which if you see some clips of it will instantly become apparent, like the huge dragon fire rounds and shit are all straight from it.

  18. Had never heard of The Hong Kong Massacre, but oh yeah, from watching clips the inspiration is obvious.

    Though, in turn, The Hong Kong Massacre also seems obviously inspired by Hotline Miami. So the god’s eye scene is still likely an *indirect* reference.

  19. Cheers Ben!

    @Franchise Fred – they go into some detail on how they managed the Arc de Triomphe scene towards the end of this interview:

    ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Director Chad Stahelski Breaks Down the Ending That Made the Studio Say, “Are You Insane?”

    In a spoiler chat, the filmmaker reveals that he test-screened a slightly different ending, which only solidified that his and Keanu Reeves' first instincts were right.

    It’s kind of mind boggling achievement.

  20. I think it muddies the waters of the movie’s anti-revenge theme that we have Caine, in the same position as Wick was pre-puppy, and he’s called back into service without having done anything ‘wrong’. It sells the Marquis as a uniquely horrible villain, true, but it also means the system is rife for abuse. Who’s to say, if John let the puppy go, that he wouldn’t have been sucked in anyway a few years later, if things got bad enough? Caine didn’t even have a marker with Santino…

  21. Had never heard of The Hong Kong Massacre, but oh yeah, from watching clips the inspiration is obvious.

    It a decent, cinematic Hotline-like. It’s often on sale for like $2

    However, the artiest would probably have to be Ape Out:

    Ape Out - Arcade Mode Gameplay

    Watch us smash through six minutes of the simian splatterfest.Subscribe to IGN for more!http://www.youtube.com/user/IGNentertainment?sub_confirmation=1------...

  22. Vern, I’m surprised you didn’t bring up another obvious influence: THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE UGLY. I mean the climax* had that Spanish guitar of UGLY’s climax too.

    And really, the Dollars Trilogy is a good comp for the Wick franchise. First movie is terrific, but clearly derivative and you can tell which Asian filmmaker they took cues from. But by the time we get to the end, stylism has evolved with bigger more ambitious canvases and mutated into its own awesomely unique Auteur thing to where no other people rip it off. After UGLY, Leone became an all-timer. And after this, Chad Stahelski isn’t just a great action director. He’s a goddamn great filmmaker, period.

    Not knocking MAVERICK or AVATAR 2 but if anybody thinks they deserved their Best Picture Oscar nods, then there is no argument against giving this the same honor (and when people inevitably try, their argument will amount to “this didn’t make as much money as them.”)

    This is a classic. I was wondering if this or part 3 was better….until act 3, and this fucker pulled a ROB ROY “oh this bastard was holding back this whole time” tactic and K.O. I usually harp about modern movies being too long and they’re too long because filmmakers forgot that “every minute counts” and fuck around narratively-speaking. I also loathe poseur postering (see my Elevated Horror rants) but goddammit CHAPTER 4 does what great movies tend to do: bend the rules, if not outright break them and stick us with the bill. This needed to be 3 hours like HEAT, like a LOTR movie, and yes like UGLY. Because this isn’t yet another bloated superhero blockbuster (hello THE BATMAN.) The framing is aces here, as good as you’ll see in any arthouse fare (if not better) but you get awesome gunfights too.

    I am morbidly curious to see if the masses will go for this WICK-verse without Keanu. Imagine a DIRTY HARRY universe and Clint aced out but Warner Bros. wanted to make riding that gravy train? I think if Lionsgate wants to pull this off, they have to remember what made the MCU initially successful in their shared universe exploits: the “shared” stuff is besides the point, its just hot sauce you add as a bonus (a lesson that lately MCU has forgotten.)

    It’s like if we get a Caine movie. The core appeal will be seeing Donnie FUCKING Yen front a Hollywood movie aka his RUMBLE IN THE BRONX / REPLACEMENT KILLERS vehicle. The fact he’s playing Zatoichi/Daredevil/Toph’s slightly more realistic*** sibling that we’ve already seen in an awesome movie is a bonus.

    *=My opening day crowd clapped at what Keanu does, finding a way to win a no-win situation. That’s the Captain Kirk way, bitches.

    **=CHAPTER 4 ended his narrative on as good of a place as any, a new CHAPTER 5 would have to start a new plot that theoretically one-off like the first WICK. I’m good with Keanu peacing out, but considering the money involved I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he does come back.

    ***=I love how despite knowing to use sound as his strength to focus on, Caine still needs his stick to feel around his surroundings.

  23. To my mind, Caine must have sacrificed his eyes to get out, right? To avoid a Wick-like situation where he could go against them.
    But then they call him back and he’s just as deadly; if that’s the way it is, I love it.

    But I would never, ever, ever apply the word realistic to him, though; He was only blind when it was convenient to the script/cool. The assassins in this universe are basically superheroes (or at the very least heightened action heroes) no matter how well their pain/limitations are sold. Not a problem in the least, since the movie openly embraces the ridiculous (such as the armored business suits.)

  24. I can’t imagine any other Wick universe movie can do as well without Keanu, but unlike Dirty Harry, has a real fighting (ha ha didn’t intend that) chance. Harry was just a character in basic 70s cop plots, without Clint it was not much…but Wick has established a whole world and they already have a few established characters they could reuse if they wanted to. I assumed that’s what they were going to do with the tv show.

  25. Sure Vern, thanks. That’s wild about the Paris scene.

    Also can’t unsee this:

    Scott Adkins on Instagram: "Killa Harkan celebrating in his own special way that John Wick Chapter 4 is the #1 movie all around the world!!! See the action masterpiece in theatres NOW #johnwick4 #scottadkins"

    138K Likes, 2,614 Comments - Scott Adkins (@thescottadkins) on Instagram: "Killa Harkan celebrating in his own special way that John Wick Chapter 4 is the #1 movie all arou..."

    Scott Adkins for Step Up 6!


    I do think this film possibly sets up the story to continue away from John, since there’s a lot of talk in it about how his actions are shaking the High Table’s foundations, and with how extreme they’re going to try to get everyone in line, they’ve possibly riled up some more rebellious factions. I kinda doubt Winston is going to leave things at getting his hotel back. I could see him using it to start to build up some resources to go against the HT. THE BALLERINA will also have Ruska Roma connections and they just got a bit of a boost from what John did, I assume. Then again, this series does have a habit of seeming to set things up then not following up on them. I was kinda surprised for instance that after John went to the trouble to get his car back and handed it off to Aurellio for repair at the beginning of Chapter 2, they never paid that off. Cassian was also left alive at the end of that movie and I kinda expected him to return at some point.

    Kaplan: “I think it muddies the waters of the movie’s anti-revenge theme that we have Caine, in the same position as Wick was pre-puppy, and he’s called back into service without having done anything ‘wrong’. It sells the Marquis as a uniquely horrible villain, true, but it also means the system is rife for abuse. Who’s to say, if John let the puppy go, that he wouldn’t have been sucked in anyway a few years later, if things got bad enough? Caine didn’t even have a marker with Santino…”
    My take is John was specifically bound to Viggo, and his release from service was an agreement with Viggo that was bound by whatever rules of the Underworld they inhabit and the fact John held up his end of the bargain, though he possibly also would have had to agree to never kill again too (because Viggo wouldn’t want his best gun working under anyone else), and that when John came back in the first film or just because he killed Viggo himself, that arrangement was null and void and made him fair game again. I also think Santino calling in his favour wasn’t just because he was owed a favour, but because what John did to Viggo’s organisation showed that he still had “it” and was the guy for the job.

  27. [MILD SPOILER] Speaking of things not resolved, I’m pretty sure I saw the adjudicator in the background somewhere, but IMDB seems to contradict that. Really expected to see them do something in this one; let Morpheus get some revenge.
    Not that I’m complaining that we got the great Clancy Brown instead, mind. They never do say what’s he’s an harbinger to, either. The table’s judgement?

  28. SPOILER. I don’t think they’ll make another one, but if they do I think they’ll say that there was some trick involved with the suit that Bowery King gave him “to be buried in.” (They had some idea in mind, because they tested another version of the tombstone scene that implied he could be alive, but audiences “revolted.”) And then maybe they’ll do the traditional action setup that Kolstadt used to say was what he wanted for a sequel – Wick is off somewhere living in seclusion like John Rambo and something comes along where he can use his skills to help somebody. Of course, they’d have to take that premise to really outlandish places if they want to top part 4, so maybe not.

  29. The only complaint anyone could possibly have about the magnificent JW4 is that the amazing JW3 came before it. And I 100% had no idea that was Scott Adkins, just like I 100% always thought the Mayor in Ghosts was Michael Lerner.

    Michael Lerner - IMDb

    Michael Lerner. Actor: Barton Fink. Michael Lerner is an American actor from New York City, and the older brother of fellow actor Ken Lerner. He was once nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the domineering studio head Jack Lipnick in "Barton Fink" (1991). His other well-known roles include crime boss Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928) in "Eight Men Out" (1988), Mayor Ebert in "Godzilla" (1998),...

  30. Stu: Could be. Or maybe everyone shy of malefactors like Santino and the Marquis knows that it’s a bad idea to reactivate a world-famous assassin and get them pissed off at you. But I think the fact that we’ve had two loophole-abusers in four movies speaks to my point.

    [spoiler] One cool bit of (unintentional?) worldbuilding is that, when you think about it, this whole thing could’ve been resolved in John Wick 2 if he’d listened to Winston. Instead of shooting Santino in the face, John gets a crest from the Ruska Roma (who he would be on much better terms with at the time) and challenges him to a duel. Which was probably what Winston was trying to tell him at the time.

    At least, I think that would’ve worked… there’s more rules lawyering in the High Table than there is in D&D.

  31. So another plot question from the final scene:


    Are they implying what I think they’re implying with that last line from that character? In the language spoken and with the glimpse at the tattoo on his arm as well?

  32. One of the things I really liked is that the whole thing about endless revenge only leading to more endless revenge also serves as an acknowledgement that they’re running out of plot, and unless we just want to watch the same movie over and over again with people asking him “why are you still doing this, man?” and him repeating “consequences”, it’s time to put the series to rest.
    I love the John Wick movies, I hope more people make movies inspired by John Wick like Bob Oedenkirk’s Nobody, but I can’t imagine that there’s still a lot of great ideas they haven’t used yet in a John Wick movie. I’d rather rewatch John Wick 1-4 than getting John Wick 5: John Wick kills dudes at the water park and fights septuagenerian Bolo Yeung in Venice, and John Wick 6: William Zabka plays an affable assassin in Dubai and John Wick kills dudes at the Penguin Parade in Melbourne, and John Wick 7: Gerald Okamura is revealed as the mastermind of the High Table at the Taj Mahal and at some point there’s a clever reference to High Plains Drifter, etc etc. I mean I’m sure they could still come up with better shit than that but you know what I mean. Don’t let John Wick become Star Wars.

  33. Stu, You aren’t alone with that.
    When Winston says “Son”, that couldn’t have been just a throwaway line. Or could it have been?
    Not sure we will ever know, but it definitely got me thinking.

  34. Stu – I must’ve missed that, I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    Toxic – I think it might be best to move on to other projects too, but I trust Stahelski and Reeves to do what’s best. Stahelski says in interviews that they have tons and tons of action ideas they haven’t used yet but only do another one when they feel they have a story for it. So far they’ve stayed true to that.

    If they did decide to do another one it would be a way for an obviously great team to work together again without us having to compare some new Keanu character to John Wick.

  35. Beautiful film. Beautiful franchise.

    Hope that’s the end now.

    Let him rest.

  36. Beautiful film. Beautiful franchise.

    Hope that’s the end now.

    Let him rest.




    Vern: Winston speaking Russian, calling John “my son” in his farewell, and having some sort of cross tattoo on his arm. All possibly implying he’s Ruska Roma himself, and maybe John’s father? A friend actually once speculated on the latter to me after the first film, based purely on the fact that he called John “Jonathan” all the time, which is something one would associate with certain kinds of parents. It would be a logical explanation for why Winston has always bent the rules for him and even when he betrayed him in 3, did it in a way that gave him a slim chance of survival. John’s also established as “an orphan”, which could just mean his parents were unknown, or it could be another term the underworld uses for kids who are kind of disowned like that. Also Winston’s the protagonist of THE CONTINENTAL, so it could be a tease for whatever his backstory is in that.

  38. Dumb question, but is there any significance to the burning triangle while John trains at the very first scene? Or is it just cool set dressing?

  39. For maybe two-thirds of this thing, I was pretty sure I was gonna come away thinking this was the worst WICK. Too much palace intrigue, not enough emotional catharsis. I enjoy the world-building of the Wickiverse but it can’t be the whole show. We are a long way from the clear emotional throughline of the original, and as such, the plot just meanders through fetch quests and subplots for a very long time. The more time we spend away from John himself, the more it feels like an elaborate contraption. Complexity without profundity. Great action, sure, but where’s the heart?

    (Bear in mind that even as I was having these doubts, I still considered it the best action movie I’d seen in the past year. Being the worst WICK is still better than almost anything else. When you’re playing at the level of these movies, your only competition is yourself.)

    And then John Wick murdered literally every human being within the Paris city limits and I started thinking maybe it was the best sequel. But then again PARABELLUM has the dogs and the Raid Brothers. More research is required.

    It does seem like they are implying something with Winston’s last words and the tattoo. We have been given two examples of parents having to be separated from their children for their safety, so there is precedent for such a thing.

    I’m against it. It’s a little too cute.

  40. I really enjoyed it but I think it falls short of Chapters 1 & 3. The first hour often drags – every scene without Caine or Koji goes on too long without variation. I was so ready for John’s fight against the armored guys to wrap in particular, felt very repetitive

    Agreed with the other folks here that if there was justice in this world, this movie would get nominated for Cinematography or Set Design. Just stunning. I didn’t want that duel between Koji and Caine to end, in part because of the great acting but also just so I could stare at that courtyard

    I really need to watch out for the traffic in Paris when I visit – those drivers do not stop for ANYTHING.

  41. If we get another JW film, I really want a character who has a private jet and flies John around in exchange for Gold Coins. He must have taken at least 5 flights in this one (at least), and he clearly isn’t flying commercial. Maybe a silly thing to focus on, but I became all wound up in my own imagination watching this, wondering what the Continental Jet looks like.

  42. This definitely wasn’t for me.

    In fact, the only John Wick I liked was the first one, and feel it has only been downhill since, with increasingly ludicrous scripts and very spotty world-building.

    Sure, these movies have excellent cinematography and a few neat ideas here and there, but that’s about it. Overall I just do not consider them good movies.

    I didn’t use to think action could be boring, but especially these last two JW instalments sure proved me wrong. There’s barely any sequence that doesn’t feel overly long and repetitive. Whenever there’s a new trick or gimmick they’ll make sure you see it at least 10 times in a row. John Wick himself has like 3 different moves, and he uses them all the time. It’s tedious seeing him go through hordes of cannon fodder, who just never put up anything even remotely looking like a fight. As for the most prominent characters he fights, most, if not all, of them come across as far better fighters, but John always ends up winning, not because he pulls off anything spectacular or even comes up with a smart strategy, but because all of his major opponents seem to get nerfed at some point and allow him to win.

    Also, I don’t recall when this ‘indestructible John Wick’ thing began, I guess it was gradual, but it’s absolutely ridiculous in this one. The guy is smashed against steps, gets a spinning kick to the head, falls from what looks like a 3-story height, hits a concrete pipe on his way down, but he’s fine. He jumps off a 3 or 4-story window, lands on a car, but he’s fine. He rolls down 222 steps, but he’s fine. It was nothing like this bs in the first John Wick, he did get hurt there and back then it felt like some stakes were actually there. I mean, one thing is a bit of a suspension of disbelief, but if I wanted to watch an indestructible character with no odds I’d settle for a superhero movie.

    A final note for the Tracker or Nobody character. A while ago I think I mentioned the ‘neighour’ character on Day Shift was completely senseless, pointless and inconsequential. Well, this guy might just give her a run for her money.

    So, yeah, I guess I just don’t see in this series what others do. And that’s perfectly fine.

    The first John Wick I’m sure I’ll rewatch many times. The others, especially 3 and 4, I doubt I’ll ever bother.

  43. Yeah I admire the hell out of what they’re doing, but they don’t do much for me. They just end up feeling like videogames…a ton of deep worldbuilding lore. Super repetitive fights that last forever against a horde of faceless minions, then the miniboss, then the big boss. John Wick doing the same basic moves over and over just like a videogame.

    I did think the third got into some great stuff, the knife fight was amazing.

  44. John Wick himself has like 3 different moves

    So they’ve added two moves since the first sequel?

  45. Man, such a (nearly) perfect movie. They steer away from the ending of 3 very harshly, which I didn’t really like, but the plot does what it wants as its own thing, and does it good. Pretty much the last hour is bonkers.


    Nicolas Refn once said that his movies have happy endings, because his protagonists get in the end what they always desired to get. In this sense, John Wick 4 has the happiest ending of any of the series. Don’t cry, don’t even be sad. He’s wanted this all along. To put his affairs in order, to fix up things that caused harm to his friends (the entire plot is about how Winston and Caine were made whole again, John gets nothing), and to depart. This world has no more brunettes for him; and they’re all brunettes too. Think Keanu is trying to tell us something? Or maybe to meditate on death through film? That’s what this is all about in the end, I think, a meditation.

    On the other characters, I’m fascinated by the bad guy being a Marquis. It’s probably the most French-sounding title of nobility they had, so they gave it to the French villain, but it’s also historical: a Marquis in medieval times was the lord of a marche, which means a border region. As he was on the border, he’d have to pay constant attention for enemies, have enough soldiers on hand to attack or defend at any moment, and be warlike in general. Bill Skarsgard doesn’t just want to kill John Wick; he wants to wage war against him, because he inherited his title, but did nothing to gain it. He isn’t secure with having the rank, he wants the deeds that go with it. He gets them, I suppose.

    (All of this characterization is accomplished without a word. Just like the High Table dudes in Osaka are dressed in tactical samurai armor complete with demon masks. Instantly lets you know that when we say the Table gives Skarsgard anything he needs, we mean ANYTHING he needs.)

    But it isn’t perfect. Two-forty is insanely long for a movie where all characters are either Kung Fu Man or Mafia Boss, and all the fat is repetitive action. Fans will say that all these fights are so good that it’s a shame to cut anything, but that’s cope. Cutting things even when you like them is what editing is, you just gotta kill your babies when they get too repetitive and you just gotta keep things fresh. You gain nothing by doing the judo throw on ten dudes that you don’t gain by doing it on five. Only exception is when he does donuts in the car and shoots at the same time, give that scene the Snydercut treatment and make it five hours long.

    Like, let’s get real: The Raid 2 is way better at juggling having a serious runtime and plot in your Kung Fu Man movie. Drunken Master 2, and also Who Am I, have insanely long fight scenes but Jackie and crew do not repeat themselves, they just get inventive and it shakes out at this length. Fury Road is flat out better for keeping everything in time and being only two hours long. This is a movie that would have been perfect it they didn’t literally give enemies health bars you have to deplete before they die, and it pains me to see.

  46. I’ll respectfully disagree. I thought The Raid 2 (for instance) spent too much time on pretending to be The Godfather between action scenes, while JW4 (to harken back to Vern’s review of The Man With The Iron Fists) gets that these are musicals and the action scenes are the big show-stopping numbers.

    Is the final stretch of the movie gratuitous, self-indulgent, and excessive? Yes, of course, but what else would do for the grand finale of Puppy Vengeance except for them to top themselves one last time and soundly lay down the gauntlet for everyone who comes after them? And I think they do a good job of switching things up with the locale, weaponry, point of view, type of action, etc. so it’s not just the same thing again and again.

    There were sequences in 2 and 3 that got repetitive for me (the catacombs and When Animals Attack bit), but I can honestly say nothing in 4 got to the point where I felt I’d seen it all.

  47. The Raid 2 doesn’t really pretend to be the Godfather, though. The montage that gave that impression to everybody introduces Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man, it’s regular action. Only the Yayan Ruhian part is something that can be cut out easily, but even that is important to the overall theme.

    I wanna be clear, though. I have nothing but praise for everything after John Wick gets to Paris. The car fights are basically what happens when Hollywood dares to come within a hundred paces of Fury Road, the top down shootout is the best in the series, Marko kicking our main man down the stairs is hysterical, you couldn’t change anything here. It’s Berlin and especially Osaka that feel very drawn out. It really feels like he’s doing judo throw, shoot at the armor, leg throw, shoot armor again, finally shoot in the unarmored part, move to the next one. It’s very physically demanding, it’s impressive, it’s a celebration of stunt work. It’s better than its superhero counterparts, because it’s actual dancing instead of CGI. But, really, you proved you can do it with the first five times.

    Anyway, like I said. Almost perfect. It’s not like I won’t watch again.

  48. Funny you guys bring up The Raid because the action in JW4 reminded me alot of that film, where I watched the action sequences and went “These guys must have spent alot of time choreographing this” rather than just being swept up in what was going on onscreen like the best Jackie Chan movies. But despite that, this may be the best of the Wicks, or at least the one with the strongest character work and storytelling instincts that the other ones lacked. All the problems of the other films like the crappy villains or the anticlimactic “climaxes” (final fight with Ruby Rose?!?) have been somewhat smoothed over, and Caine and The Marquis are easily the series’ best antagonists. The emotional notes actually work (especially the stuff with Winston and Charon, obviously). The slow parts seem to go by faster than the slow parts in the earlier movies. Despite being 3 hours long this one didn’t seem to drag as much as the worst parts of 2 or 3.

    *SPOILER* The one emotional beat that didn’t quite land was the ending, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. (Sorta reminded me of how I wasn’t as sad as I shoulda been when a certain X-Man finally died). Maybe because I didn’t see this one particularly billed as the series finale, or because I saw a bunch of headlines about “John Wick 5” right before I saw this. It kinda took me by surprise even though it’s clearly the right ending for the film and the right ending for the series. After the movie I started to wonder if my brain’s been so trained by Marvel and all the other modern day franchises to think that it’s not a proper finale unless there’s a million series callbacks and surprise cameos. Like the fact that Common, John Leguizamo, David Patrick Kelly, Halle Berry, and Angelica Huston didn’t all come back felt like a real missed opportunity, even though I know that’s a tired, creatively bankrupt idea. (And I specifically LIKED that this series is so full of loose ends and non sequiturs). Anyways, I loved this series even though I don’t think I actually “loved” any of the individual movies. But this one comes closest.

  49. This was cathartic. Think what you may of it but the existence of this series in today’s movie making climate alone is an anomaly. The fact that the execution remained so consistently sharp across 4 movies is borderline miraculous. I was so satisfied by the end of it I didn’t find any necessity to even stay put for the apparent post credit scene or whatever. Winston’s last words, Donnie Yen’s character, Marko Zaror showing up on the big screen so early on. Man I popped for all of it. My headcabon with the Nobody guy is that he is somehow linked to the Halle Berry character. Maybe a pupil. Either way I’m glad they brought back more nut munching yet dangerously cute dogs to play on set. With that said leave the series alone. No spin offs, no contrived what ifs just be happy that for once a franchise exists again where every entry hit the mark and kept it moving.

  50. “No spin offs”

    Errr….yeah…..about that……

    THE CONTINENTAL Official Trailer (2023) John Wick

    The three-part event series will explore the origin behind the iconic hotel-for-assassins centerpiece of the John Wick universe through the eyes and actions ...

  51. “Don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed.” – Frank Lopez

    SMH I should’ve known.

  52. Holy crap. Scott Adkins latest ep of The Art of Action is only with Keanu Reeves!

  53. And it’s 1 of 2 episodes with him as part 2 is coming soon. Great conversation between 2 legends.

  54. Yeah I saw that on my subscription feed and was so excited I dropped my phone. That podcast is a godsend in general but this episode is extra righteous and cause for a 4/20 celebration.

  55. On the precipice of this absolute gem releasing on digital storefronts this Tuesday, I just wanted to come back and nod in agreement with everything ik this review. I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie since opening night. Easily the series’ best in action and story/character.

  56. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 Director Chad Stahelski Talks SPOILERS, Keanu Reeves, That BIG Duel, & More! (Exclusive)

    With John Wick: Chapter 4 now available on Blu-ray, we sat down with one of the best action directors in the world, Chad Stahelski, to talk about his most recent blockbuster starring Keanu Reeves.

  57. I finally caught up on this and it’s a nice rebound from all the frustratingly convoluted GAME OF THRONES shit in part 3. But honestly, as much fun as the crazy parallel universe where everybody seems to be a killer with unlimited resources is, the whole thing is still frustrating to me that since part 2 so much screentime is wasted on rich assholes who pretend they are royalty and talk about rules and consequences and “the old ways” and shit.

    But damn, was the action great! Every time I thought a fight was about to get boring and too repetitive, they pulled out another gimmick to make it fresh again! So yeah, good ending.

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