It’s raining blood in John Wick: Chapter 4, and we’re all for it. Wick’s battle with the big guns has reached epic proportions in the last and final movie of the four-part action-heavy franchise, making for a befitting end to a thrilling neo-noir saga.
A brooding, intense, swashbuckling Keanu Reeves returns as the dreaded ex-hitman in Chad Stahelski’s last film for the John Wick universe. Armed and dangerous, Wick is hell-bent on escaping ruthless assassin politics by winning his freedom from a 12-member ‘High Table’ – which governs the actions of hired guns like him and is the underworld’s most powerful crime syndicate. This battle of “consequences”, as he often puts it, takes Wick on a journey across the picturesque locales of Morocco, France, Germany and Japan, where he goes on the classic adrenaline-pumped, guilt-free killing spree his fans more than appreciate. A Hitman meets Kill Bill meets Mission Impossible murder trip.
Watch out for the killer cast
John Wick: Chapter 4 is not a one-man show like its previous instalments. A stellar ensemble cast adds spice to a crackling story, successfully bringing all action greats in one frame. Reeves has the perfect contender in martial arts legend Donnie Yen, who plays Caine, a blind, retired assassin tasked with killing Wick. Widely credited with introducing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to Southeast Asian cinema, Yen aces his role, even surpassing Wick’s swiftness with his.
Bill Skarsgård, best known for playing Pennywise in It (2017) and It Chapter Two (2019), drops the murderous clown garb to don that of a glamourous, pompous member of the High Table. Skarsgård plays Marchese de Gramont, who is adamant about getting Wick out of his way and increases the bounty on his head with each scene. Skarsgård perfectly embodies the snobby royal’s psychotic megalomania – stunning, scaring and angering audiences with his superlative performance. Rina Sawayama and Hiroyuki Sanada—who play Akira and Koji, Wick’s allies in Japan—stun in action sequences with traditional samurai swords and bows and arrows. Mortal combat scenes superimposed against calm cherry blossom trees are as beautiful as they are ironic.
Like most John Wick movies, the dog gets its due in Chapter 4 too. The fierce and faithful canine accompanying bounty hunter Mr Nobody (Shamier Anderson) goes for the crotch and shines as an action hero, just like its co-stars.
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Genius camerawork, perfect music
Dan Laustsen’s cinematography elevates the action sequences to never-seen-before levels. After all, his past collaborations with award-winning Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro are proof of his affinity for vibrance. From forest green to lava red, his play with coloured lights brings out the best in each scene. The camera work is brilliant, to say the least. For instance, one sequence is shot entirely from the top, making one feel like they’re in a video game simulation. Tyler Bates’ score allies well with Laustsen’s vision, and tracks such as Eye for an Eye prove memorable. Production designer Kavin Kavanaugh, known for creating the moody and pitch-black sets of The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Nightcrawler (2014), shows his genius with tall, solid backdrops—painted glass cabinets, grand doors, and vast hotel lobbies.
The only drawback, perhaps, is the film’s run time. At almost three hours, John Wick: Chapter 4 is the longest of the four films. It’s justified considering the top-notch action scenes being served to viewers, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
There is little to fault in John Wick: Chapter 4, though. It is pure unadulterated action backed by a solid story, the perfect adrenaline-serotonin boost for eager fans. What’s not to love?
(Edited by Ratan Priya)