movie review – John Wick 4

Please be aware that specific scenes are noted in this review and that some readers may consider them mild spoilers.

John Wick 4 is one of the few movies I have opted to see in theaters instead of waiting for its home release. Me and my wife love the series, so its latest installment was the main course for our recent (and rare) date without the kids. So, before I continue, keep in my mind I went into this with high expectations, which can always play into one’s experience.

With the last two sequels, I was on the edge of my seat throughout, fully intending to watch the movies again the moment they released on Blu-ray. With JW4, it took some time for me to warm up to the screen. The opening wasn’t anything special and the action didn’t really accelerate to impressive levels until the Japanese continental fight reached the rooftops. As much as it pains me to say this, the fights weren’t very wow for the most part. Their saving grace came in the form of a blind assassin called Caine (played by Donnie Yen). Watching him navigate the world during fights was fascinating and well-done. Not only did he steal all the scenes he was featured in, he significantly amplified them. If he’s the subject of one of the franchise’s spin-offs (as seems evident in the post-credit scene), count me in.

While we’re at it, let me go ahead and highlight my favorite moments and other characters in this film. There’s a sequence at a modern night club (yes, they did that again) with a large thug boss that is just fantastic. Killa (played by Scott Adkins) was essentially a James Bond villain. He has an accent (or maybe it was a speech impediment) that is made humorous by the golden grill in his mouth, and is largely characterized by his thick frame, much like Kingpin in Daredevil. Yes, this was clearly a martial artist in a fat suit but it somehow worked, like Colin Farrell as Penguin in The Batman or Tom Cruise as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. There is also Tracker’s badass dog; let’s see you get hit by car and immediately jump back up to intimidate your prey. Tracker himself is played well, though very underdeveloped (unless I missed something, we never really learn who the fuck he is). Skilled, likeable, but missing some depth. What else? Though it seemed abruptly cut, the battle at Arc de Triomphe with all the cars adding collateral damage was exciting and fresh. The final duel was also poignant and visually satisfying. Oh, and how could I forget the Hong Kong Massacre influenced shootout with the camera angled overhead while John mowed down enemies with a fire-blasting shotgun? *Chef’s kiss*

Of course, I have some negatives to note if you hadn’t guessed from the start of this review. I’ll just name them quickly. There’s a moment in the stair scene near the end that we have a fucking Family Guy gag of a fall; you’ll know it when you see it. Some of the action, though good, felt too familiar, perhaps stale; this is our fourth run, after all. Basically, the general formula is really more of the same of the last two movies. And this movie is long, like 2.5 hours with a post-credit scene, and I felt that timeframe in the theater (granted, I also have a connective tissue disease, but this is still nearly as long as The Fellowship of the Ring). Sprinkled throughout are slower moments that didn’t grab my attention like they did in the other entries of the series. And though it is understood John is a man of few (stilted) words, most of his dialogue in this movie made me cringe. It was as if Keanu was playing John as someone just learning how to talk. I don’t understand why they did that for this film. It came off as horrible line-reading or a disability, whereas in the past it just felt like he was a quiet, serious dude on a mission.

So, was the movie good? Yes. Was it the best Wick film yet? No, not for me. I’d place this one last, to be honest. It goes 2, 3, 1, then 4 in my book. There are definitely moments in this movie where I was sucked into the action, but there was also plenty of moments where I wasn’t feeling anything extra this around, largely because I’d seen something too similar in a previous JW movie. In my opinion, let this be the last one and move onto the spin-offs; there’s plenty of material and angles there to follow without doing the same movie a fifth time. ~ 7/10

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Wintry Monsters Press publishes the work of Aiden Merchant and Wesley Winters, as well as the occasional issue of WMP Dark Fiction Magazine, featuring reviews, interviews, promotions, previews, and more.


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