“John Wick: Chapter 4” Review

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“John Wick: Chapter 4” Rating: 2.5/5

The “John Wick” series has become more popular than expected. I never would have guessed such a series could warrant four movies.

We find John Wick at the tail end of his journey to defeat the High Table and earn his freedom. But a powerful new adversary wants to finish him off for good. This means John Wick will have to deal with new and returning enemies in order to clear his name.

Positives

Each entry in the “John Wick” series has been pretty consistent. There are no gaping issues I’ve had so far, but I feel they haven’t taken many risks. A simple, fun formula has created unprecedented success. I admire the fun action schtick that the filmmakers have developed.

“Chapter 4” attempts to raise the stakes, making everything bigger and bolder. We finally get a feeling that John’s journey might be coming to an end because it feels as though the series has become a bit stale with the current direction.

Being along for the ride as John must deal with a brand-new foe was a nice diversion to the story of the first three. Bill Skarsgard was my favorite performance in the movie. He brings a nice edge to counter John’s drive. The two act as bulls, locking horns on something larger than a simple idea. Ian McShane was great, as usual, and Donnie Yen adds a nice, personal touch to the story.

The action is the main attribute that will have audiences talking. It is slick, well-choreographed and over-the-top. Fans of the series thus far will be thrilled with “Chapter 4” swinging for the fences.

Negatives

I know this will be an extremely controversial opinion, but “John Wick: Chapter 4” did not satisfy me. I found the story elevated in all the wrong ways.

Let’s start with the runtime: it’s far too long! A two-hour story was the perfect duration for a film of this nature. A nearly three-hour runtime did not work in this case. The action was choreographed to a degree where it didn’t feel as real as it used to. Many of the fights were prolonged to the point of exhaustion. I love a good action sequence, but when the conclusion of a fight is just setting up another long brawl…it get tedious quickly. A strength of the original film was the small scale of it.

The strong mystique tied to Wick’s character provided a sharp edge that audiences wanted to learn more about. Some over-the-top action mixed with an intriguing story of revenge was a fresh change of pace. But I feel as though we haven’t learned much new about him after four movies.

Another piece that didn’t add up for me was the motivation. John’s mission has been to take down The Table for the entirety of the series, but here his end goal seems to be muddled and unclear. This leads to my next issue. Bill Skarsgard’s villain had such a promising start. He was menacing and seemed like a true threat to John. But the character takes a turn where his prowess in the assassin world was reduced to a scared, little man who uses others to do his dirty work. Because of this, the grand duel between him and John was underwhelming.

Changing alliances has always been present in this franchise as well, but there are one too many in this film. By the conclusion, each alliance shift seemed to happen just to get to the end goal, not because it made sense. Plausibility is also an issue. There’s only so many hits John can take and so many people he can kill before being tripped up. This chapter magnifies the unbelievable aspects of the franchise to the point where it feels silly now. The idea that he can continue to fall out of buildings, get shot and block hits from every angle feels a bit stale at this point. Plot armor is expected in films like this, but “Chapter 4” doesn’t carry the same gravitas as the first film.

I continue to feel as though this series is being milked too far, but I know most will want to keep these movies coming. Keep in mind, I’ve enjoyed this series, but I do believe the storyline has run its course. Hopefully the “John Wick” movies will take a pause for a while. I don’t believe that to be true, though.

Conclusion

“Chapter 4” elevates everything. The stakes, the action and the absurdity are on a grandiose level. Unfortunately, the film forgets to add anything more to Wick’s story aside from killing more unnamed bad guys and prolonging a journey that’s already too long.

Diehard fans of the series will certainly be satisfied, but those less invested might feel as if “Chapter 4” is too overlong to warrant its own existence. I’m certainly aware that most will enjoy this more than I did, but keep this in mind going into it.

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