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John Wick: Chapter 4 Hits the Bullseye With Every Shot It Takes

John Wick: Chapter 4 has no goddamn right to be this stylish and action-packed while still maintaining a steady stream of world-building information as its story progresses. And yet here we are.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (henceforth referred to as JW4 for brevity’s sake) picks almost immediately after John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.

Addendum: In a recent interview with Collider, John Wick: Chapter 4’s director Chad Stahelski confirms that the movie happens roughly six months after John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. 

Betrayed, beaten, and left for dead as street pizza following Winston’s (Ian McShane) apparent betrayal, Wick’s only remaining ally seems to be The Bowery King played by Laurence Fishburne. Hereon, Wick takes us on a ride, a warpath of sorts, eliminating everyone who wronged him – even as far as going for those who sit above The High Table.

The action set-pieces in John Wick movies always played like it’s a video game so why not the story, right? JW4 takes us on a round-the-world trip as the story introduces us to Wick’s adversaries and friends, from Osaka to Berlin, past and present. Alongside Winston and the Bowery King mentioned prior, Charon, played by the recently departed Lance Riddick also made a return in JW4.

With Friends Like These…

New faces include Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe Caine, an equally lethal combatant but also an old friend of Wick’s, Hiroyuki Sanada as Koji Shimazu the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel, Clancy Brown as the Harbinger, a high-ranking operative of the High Table, Shamier Anderson as the bounty hunter ‘Mr. Nobody’, and the excellent Bill Skarsgård as Marquis Vincent de Gramont, the big bad of JW4.

More than just fresh characters added in for the sake of star power, each character brings nuance to Wick’s decisions and the repercussions of his actions. Wick has got nothing to lose with his sole motivation being revenge, while the characters who stand in his way each carry a reason to stop him dead in his tracks. Obviously preparing us for further movies down the line as well as the upcoming spin-off ‘Ballerina‘, JW4 further explores the inner-workings of the universe, how the High Table operates, what keeps the machinations stable and working like clockwork and how John Wick’s retaliations since the first movie threatens its core.

As preached since the first John Wick movie, every action begets reaction and in Winston’s wise words – consequences. It is rarely praised and is highly underrated but the world-building in the John Wick franchise is stellar, to say the least. Even well into the fourth movie we still stumble upon interesting titbits of information which explain why some characters’ motivations and drive.

But all that is just the side dish. The main meat and potatoes in John Wick movies have always been its action sequences, and they definitely deliver.

Gun-kata fans’ Wet Dream

For all the violence demonstrated throughout this epic shoot ’em up, no two kills were the same. We weren’t keeping track but dare say that at least 70% of the movie consists of Wick’s blowing some poor NPC’s brains out in the most creative of ways. With each kill, the threats and stakes were raised with better-equipped goons in larger numbers forcing some creative problem-solving from the man they call Baba Yaga. The stunt team basically took all the best bits they conjured up in the first three movies, looked at them and went “how do we make these scenes… hurt more?”

Shooter game fans would have a field day spotting all the video games-inspired set pieces peppered throughout. In many movies focusing on gun-kata, shootout scenes can be either too short and unfulfilling or long-winded and boring but not in JW4. Creative camera angles, cinematography and setups make each prolonged fight shoot-out scene unique. There’s time for everything. Wick either tanked through the horde with all guns blazing or finessed his way through waves of baddies with well-placed shots.

The action coordinators even punctuated all the gunshots with physical battles with a variety of handheld weapons for welcomed changes of pace. How thoughtful. Heck, they even managed to squeeze in the bane of all Call of Duty lobbies – the Dragon’s Breath fire shotgun ammunition into the mix!

JW4 is a masterclass of hitting the Goldilocks zone when it comes to delivering its action sequences. Not once they overstayed their welcome, nor ended abruptly. Same with the story. Quiet moments essential in advancing the plot were crisp and straight to the point. Not one scene was wasted nor can be considered omittable and not one line was uttered with no consequence.

With a runtime just shy of the three-hour mark, JW4 surprisingly did not feel that long. You know what they say: time flies when you’re having fun. Fans of the John Wick franchise would fully appreciate where the journey has taken them since that first scene in front of the vet in the first movie, while first-time viewers (where have you been!?) would be instantly converted. 

Is it a perfect movie? We would say it is very close. But is it a perfect movie to encapsulate the three John Wick movies prior to this one?

Take it away, Jardani.

Final Score: 90/100

We attended an early screener of John Wick: Chapter 4 courtesy of Warner Bros. Malaysia. John Wick: Chapter 4 hits Malaysian cinemas on 23 March 2023.

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