“John Wick: Chapter 4,” the latest and best in the action thriller franchise, does not rely on its story at all, but leans on its beautiful action choreography, making it one of the world’s best action films.
This fourth chapter stays true to past “John Wick” films — high budget action sequences with guns, knives, pencils and an invincible Keanu Reeves who defeats armies of assassins on his run from the underworld’s bosses, The High Table.
In the past decade, Hollywood has created franchises, series and sequels for classic films that should have been left alone. Notable horses that were beaten to cremation include “Fast and Furious,” “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars.”
The problem with these franchises is not volume, however, but their failure to coordinate within themselves and create a steady canon. A strong, fascinating story with few plot holes is hard to produce when these films are being spewed out as cash grabs.
But every rule has an exception. One of the few franchises to successfully evaded this trend is “John Wick,” written by Derek Kolstad and starring Keanu Reeves in the titular role.
Why do we continue watching this basic story despite its monotony? Because John Wick is bada**.
The benefit of this silly, simple idea is that the film isn’t arrogant. It doesn’t strive for critical approval or awards. Everyone knows that “John Wick” films won’t receive recognition from the Academy, but they still go to the theater to watch Keanu Reeves stick a pencil down a dude’s ear. Its simple essence makes it a masterpiece.
The film can be repetitive with the number of enemies John Wick defeats and tends to have an unoriginal story, still the audience forgets these flaws once Reeves is thrown through glass or dodges bullets with a suit jacket.
The glimpse of originality in this film is Donnie Yen’s character, Caine, who is a blind assassin forced to chase Wick to save his daughter. Yen’s acting performance is an obvious plus, but his fight choreography developed with the help of director Chad Stahelski is the highlight of his screen presence.
Stahelski, who previously worked as a stunt double and coordinator for Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix,” shows his strengths in Chapter 4, giving Reeves nunchucks, swords, knives and guns to develop choreography that continually surprises viewers, despite the hundreds of enemies we’ve seen Wick defeat.
There are moments in the film where your jaw drops, like the abundance of martial arts legends and the beautiful direction by Stahelski that makes it the best action film of the year.
Other notable cast members include Bill Skarsgård, who acts as Marchese De Garmont, an elder of the High Table charged with ending Wick’s attack on their criminal empire.
Ian McShane reprises his role as Winston, manager of the Continental. The late Lance Riddick returns as Charon, Winston’s concierge and martial artists Scott Adkins and Hiroyuki Sanada also play supporting roles.
Though “John Wick: Part 5” was green lit years ago, both Stahelski and Reeves have said they will take a long break from the series. Despite the news of a sabbatical, Stahelski is set to helm a spinoff film titled “Ballerina” starring Ana De Armas, which supposedly brings Reeves as Wick back onto the big screen.
After eight years of John Wick, we have seen him fall off a hotel roof, get shot an innumerable number of times, get stabbed maybe three times and driven into twice. Yet, we see him persevere, defeat hundreds of enemies and bring our dreams of a bada** assassin come to fruition on the big screen. Wick will rest for a while, but he’ll eventually return…as long as we don’t do anything to his dog.