JOHN WICK 4: This series somehow keeps getting better

by Charles Gerian

“Do you think your wife can hear you?”


“Then why bother?”

“Maybe I’m wrong.”

Director Chad Stahelski’s fourth ass-kicking entry in the Keanu Reeves-lead John Wick franchise, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 released this weekend and is as loud, boisterous, and bloody as it is tense, atmospheric, and thoughtful.

4 picks up shortly after the events of 2019’s JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARABELLUM where John is continuing his war against The High Table (the shadowy handlers of this world of assassins) by targeting their head- The Elder.

Having executed The Elder in an attempt to clear his name, an even bigger target is painted on John’s back.

Now, he is hunted by one of his most dangerous enemies yet: The Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard) a senior member of The High Table who has been given unlimited resources to bring Wick to justice.

With the aide of a few friends including the reliable Winston (Ian McShane) as well as an old ally Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada), John Wick must travel from Japan to Berlin to France to clear his name, repair old bonds, and seek justice – and vengeance – once and for all.

This time around, Keanu Reeves’ gravelly voiced protagonist is accompanied by a range of surprising additions including martial arts royalty Donnie Yen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the blind swordsman Caine, action-movie maniac Scott Adkins, a fellow dog-enthusiast and tracker assassin Mr Nobody (Shamier Anderson), award-winning Japanese pop artist Rina Sawayama as a bow-wielding assassin in Osaka, genre actor Clancy Brown as a High Table operative named The Harbinger, and Harry Potter / Game of Thrones alumni Natalia Tena as Wick’s adoptive sister in Berlin.

JOHN WICK 4 is a 3-hour film doused in blood and neon that the audience wades through effortlessly, guided by stuntman-turned-director Stahelski who enlisted screenwriter Michael Finch (American Assassin, Predators) this go-around so that this packed script can brutally punch without getting lost in its own flurry of fists.

It is jaw-dropping. It is also, possibly, one of the only examples of the FOURTH entry in a film-franchise surpassing the first three completely.

For those that aren’t interested in the John Wick franchise or action movies as a whole, there isn’t a lot here that one would like.

But for action-movie enthusiasts, JOHN WICK 4 is a full-course showcase of expertly designed and directed set-pieces that continually show themselves up. From the opening action scene where Wick is pursuing several assassins through the desert on horseback to a jaw-dropping apartment complex shoot-out with dragon’s breath shotgun rounds shot in a top-down continuous shot the movie is an absolute work of art.

What sets this series apart, besides the (I’m sure) grueling attention to detail and amazing fight choreography is the pure cinematic spectacle of the whole thing.

Stahelski, as mentioned before, started his career in the 1990s as a stuntman and second-unit director working with acclaimed visionaries such as Alex Proyas (The Crow), Joel Schumacher (8MM), Sam Raimi (The Gift), John Carpenter (Ghosts of Mars), The Wachowskis (The Matrix Trilogy), Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), Doug Liman (Mr And Mrs. Smith), Tarsem Singh (The Immortals), and Joseph Kosinki (Tron Legacy).

To say that he has retained what he’s seen with the genre-elite mentioned just know is an understatement.

Watching Stahelski evolve over the course of the John Wick series and seeing what he has displayed here in JOHN WICK 4 gives one, as an audience member, the same sort of amazement and pride that a parent must see of their child or anyone else, watching them mature gracefully with age at what they have set their mind to.

Since the second ‘Wick’ film, Stahelski has worked with cinematographer Dan Lausten who might not be a household name but whose credits include frequent award-winning collaborations with acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro in Crimson Peak, The Shape of Water, and Nightmare Alley as well as other films like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Silent Hill.

Lausten and Stahelski, together, give us worlds that are drenched in color and set this series apart visually from the grey and sterile computer generated worlds that most mainstream blockbusters seem to be perpetually stuck wallowing in.

Another thing, of course, that separates John Wick as a franchise apart from other sagas is that it is constantly opening up a rich world of lore and power-players while still maintaining an air of mystery and excitement.

The series establishes new rules as quickly as it breaks them, and does more heavy-lifting with lore and world-building than most comic book movies and fantasy series could ever dream of.

JOHN WICK 4 might be one of the greatest action movies ever made, and I’m sure by the time JOHN WICK 5 comes out that’ll be “one of the greatest action movies ever made” too.

There’s still gas in the tank if this series continues, and judging by the weekend’s exemplary box-office haul as well as a TV series filming about The Continental Hotel and a spin-off film following the ballerina assassins underway, audiences will have plenty to look forward to from this clandestine and bloody world for years to come.

I saw JOHN WICK 4 in IMAX over the weekend which is HIGHLY recommended but if not, the film is playing locally at The Hub in Tonkawa and The Cowley Cinema 8 in Ark City / Winfield.