The chronicle of John Wick started from a simple revenge story of a former assassin who is out to exact vengeance on a way over-his-head son of a mob boss who killed Wick’s dog (the final gift of his recently deceased wife) and stole his car. What follows is an over-the-top, well-choreographed, bloody movie that rival those flicks made by Quentin Tarantino.
Buoyed by its box office success, the film was followed by two more sequels that slowly expand its character and lore thus creating is own universe populated by colorful people following a certain code of chivalry, honor and ethics (twisted as it may be).
John Wick 4 is the latest entry into the storied franchise and to say that this is the best chapter so far is an understatement.
No, it’s not the best film. It was never meant to be one. This isn’t one of those Oscar-bound films. Its plot is so bare and simple: to kill and evade those sent to kill him. In one of the scenes, the Marquis bluntly told John that he can’t escape his true nature, to kill. And that the only way for him to escape his destiny is when he dies. That in essence is what the John Wick story line is all about.
But what sets it apart from the rest is how crafty and well executed the action set pieces were, how creative the camera angles, and how well-choreographed the action sequences. Marvel could learn a thing or two on how to make action sequences not monotonous from this movie. So does ‘The Expendables’ if ever they decide to make a new chapter. The last time I had this much fun watching an action film was when Tarantino dropped his Kill Bill combo. Remember that duel between Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman? A bloody ballet of death artistically done with severed limbs flying all over. For nearly 3 hours, John Wick managed to do just that.
Donnie Yuen is mesmerizing here as the blind assassin Caine (can we get a spin-off movie for him please?) I don’t know if the name Caine is a homage to David Carradine’s character in Kung Fu (hey, Carradine happens to be Bill in Kill Bill too!) but his character is as colorful and interesting as Wick. That doorbell sequence is hilariously awesome.
Also, the radio station call sign was WUXIA, a nod perhaps to an action film sub-genre that Donnie starred in several films? And as the post-credit sequence implies (yes, there is one so stay in your seat until the last name rolls up because you dont want to miss that), we could be getting more Donnie Yuen in the Wick cinematic universe very soon.
There are tons of action sequences here that’s all worthy of praise but the three set pieces that stood out were: the one at The Etoile were Wick slugged it out with an army of enemies while vehicles speed by (I was wondering for a moment why the vehicles never stopped nor slowed down. Where they in a sort of SPEED mode that they can’t slow down else they would explode or the French were being just themselves? Lol. The roundabout is after all considered as Europe’s most dangerous). Then there’s the close quarter combat in a French apartment with the shotgun that spits fire and finally at Montmarte at the 222-steps stairs leading to the Sacre-Coeur. Paris never looks this lovely in an action film.
There is also a bevy of great actors here that stood out: Laurence Fisburne as the Bowery King is at his usual best, Ian McShane as Winston is still as commanding as ever, Hiroyuki Sanada (The Ring, Bullet Train and The Last Samurai) stole every scene he’s in, Clancy Brown as the Harbinger with his deep resonant voice (he’s Mr. Krabs in Spongebob), Shamier Anderson as the Tracker, with his dog, provides the perfect comedic moments and then there’s pop singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama as Akira, the daughter of the Osaka Continental manager who deserved a film on her own.
The main antagonist this time is the preening and foppish Bill Skarsgard as the Marquis de Gramont, the perfect foil to John Wick. Confident that he can take on Wick though you and I knew he’s no match. If his evil stares look familiar, it’s because he played the evil clown Pennywise in Stephen King’s It.
As for Keanu Reeves? He is in top form here. Classic Keanu with the aura of Clint Eastwood, the gunslinger with few words who can take on hundreds of bad guys.
But none of these great actors punched the most emotional appearance than Lance Reddick. The beloved actor passed away few days before the film opened. He was one of the anchors of this series. His calm but commanding presence provided the perfect counterbalance to a frenetic action film. The void he left in the series will be hard to fill.
The John Wick series is one of those films that you need to suspend some logic to fully enjoy it. Longtime fans knew this right from the start of the original movie. Once you do that, you will agree with me that the fourth installment is by far the best and worthy to be considered among the pantheon of top action movies of all time.
Is there a need for John Wick 5? With Caine, Akira and the Ballerina (a confirmed spin-off with Ana de Armas), maybe John can enjoy some quality moments with a new puppy, eh?
John Wick 4 is now showing at the cinemas of Ayala Malls Legazpi. Just check the page for their viewing schedule. Period!