Sunday, April 14, 2024
Culture

John Wick: Chapter 4… A Satisfying Swan Song

Keanu Reeves as John Wick. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Cast: Keanu Reeves as John Wick, Donnie Yen as Caine, Bill Skarsgård as Marquis Vincent de Gramont, Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King, Hiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu Koji, Shamier Anderson as Mr. Nobody, Lance Reddick as Charon, Rina Sawayama as Akira, Scott Adkins as Killa, and Ian McShane as Winston Scott.

Synopsis: John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

The Best John Wick?

Chapter 4 has a 95% Rotten Tomato score, making it the highest-rated John Wick film in the franchise that premiered back in 2014. Not bad for an almost 10 year-old series. This installment wowed me with just about every aspect of its composition. I was not expecting this sequel to have such an unbelievably action-packed compelling story that would be better than the previous films. This film is star-studded and everyone played their role well, no wonder critics and audiences are talking about this blockbuster.

Shamier Anderson as Mr. Nobody photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Characters 

First things first, rest in peace to the amazing Lance Reddick (June 7, 1962 – March 17, 2023), who has been a part of the franchise since its 2014 debut. We thank you for contributing to John Wick and hits such as Oz, The Wire, and numerous voice-over characters. You will be missed.

The characters in this movie were completely badass and, in my opinion, the best set of assassins in the franchise. Let’s start with the Tracker (aka Mr. Nobody), played by Shamier Anderson. His sniper skills and weapons set made him one of the best long-distance snipers in film history. His backpack was akin to Batman’s utility belt. It had everything in it! You’d think it would limit his performance, but it didn’t. His fierce, charismatic dog was his best weapon (and the show-stealer). Providing laughs that came out of nowhere, this dog was one of the most memorable characters in the movie.

Unsurprisingly, Hiroyuki Sanada (as Shimazu Koji) was a tough, deadly character. His sword skills could only be described as superhuman. As the owner of the Osaka Continental, this man had everything from bulletproof sumo bodyguards to a cavalry of archers onsite. They all held up pretty well against a bunch of bulletproof suit-wearing soldiers. But aside from all the badassery, he still displayed his acting chops with a few well-done emotional scenes. This man can act! 

Rina Sawayama (as Akira, the daughter of Shimazu) was also a skilled fighter with her bow. Her melee attacks were impressive and smooth. Although her screen time was short, her portrayal was so compelling that I’d love to see her return in the upcoming spin-off.

Donnie Yen (as Caine, the blind assassin) brought his cunning tenacity to a role we’ve somewhat seen before. I’m reminded of Rogue One where he played the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe. Caine was clearly one of the most feared characters in the film since the mere mention of his name had the same effect as saying “John Wick”. In fact, in this film, they’re old friends. His skill set was vast… brutal but swift. The most impressive of his weapons were the alarming motion sensors he used to take out a few enemies in the dark. He also gave Wick a good match-up in the film, even while blind. I wonder what he would be like if he wasn’t blind. Call me crazy, but I would not mind seeing a film starring this character… maybe a prequel featuring his history with John Wick. 

Bill Skarsgård (as the Marquis Vincent de Gramont) was a ridiculous villain and my favorite because although he seemed civilized, wealthy, and a mastermind, he was completely nuts! There were moments in this film when I thought, “he has to fear this person,” then he would go off the rails and even shock the other members of the High Table. I loved how the director had these huge elegant background shots to help reflect the character’s ego. It makes me wonder where this guy has been the whole time because, clearly, he is powerful and could’ve posed a threat early on in the franchise. 

In a fat suit, Scott Adkins (as Killa, the head of the German Table) was hilarious! I’m a fan of his movies, so seeing him in this role with the suit and german accent was different. He looked hideous and was a bit cartoonish, but it worked in this film. His character also delivered some of the most vicious blows to John Wick. 

Finally, as we’d expect of John Wick, Keanu Reeves was tough, vengeful, and compelling. Although we have seen Reeves in this role three times before, his character has become more human. He realizes how much his actions have affected everyone else, and he cares! Wick is no longer the seemingly emotionless hitman bent on killing everyone. With the acting of Reeves and the rest of the cast, I walked away feeling I had watched an action movie with substance. Not only that, but I cared about the characters. 

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

Cinematography

John Wick 4 had some beautiful cinematography, especially with light usage. One of the best scenes in the film is when Wick is on the rooftop talking with Shimazu. The scene was set at night. There was a reflection of red lighting coming from structures around him, reflecting the danger Wick had brought into the lives of the people he’d encountered. There was also a fantastic scene with him and Akira talking on the subway. It was dark, with red and green lights reflecting throughout the subway, representing the anger and envy that Akira must’ve felt after evading a barrage of enemies. 

Another great shot I loved was the overhead shot of Wick taking out enemies in different rooms. He took them out creatively, as this sequence of shots featured the dragon’s breath shotgun. This was one of my favorite weapons in the film because it completely engulfed its victims in flames. I thought I was watching a live-action Soldiers of Fortune video game.

What would a John Wick film be without travel and beautiful scenic environments? The film travels from the deserts of Egypt to New York and then to Paris. All the places visited were filled with some supped-up technology, but this film never had a dull scene or location.

Action 

John Wick had to have died 20 thousand times in this film from falling off buildings, getting hit by cars, and falling down steps; he should be wormfood by now! But for the film’s sake, he survived with little bruises. Nonetheless, I was thoroughly entertained by the fight choreography in this film and enjoyed the weapons. 

Final Thoughts

Besides a few corny one-liners, some misplaced dialogue, and the fact that other civilians didn’t react to a large amount of violence surrounding them while Wick is being attacked in the street, John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the best films in the franchise. It also serves as a swan song for the John Wick character as we know him. If you are looking for an action-packed, beautifully shot film, I’d say catch this movie in theaters this Friday, March 24th. You will get all the bang for your buck and then some!

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

One thought on “John Wick: Chapter 4… A Satisfying Swan Song

  • I love the movie John Wick! Really excited for the next chapter.

    Reply

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