John Wick: Chapter 4 looks amazing, it’s full of interesting and compelling action and it comes to a satisfying conclusion.
You should probably ignore the fact that I didn’t like it all that much. I went to an IMAX showing where they pumped up the volume to 11. And, for me, a lot of this movie hinged on the soundtrack. And the soundtrack was Europop? Dance? Electronica? played relentlessly and punishingly while Mr. Wick went about his violent business.
A lot of this is on me. I was done with this franchise when the third movie in the series ended on another cliffhanger. I don’t think I ever walked out of a theater more annoyed at the ending of a movie than I was at the end of John Wick: Chapter 3. And yet, here I was again on opening night paying for another installment.
I want to skip through all of my complaints and get to the good stuff, and there is a lot of good stuff here. Enough that I might go back through someday and watch them all. The short version might be that I liked the first John Wick so much that I almost wish they never made a sequel. I think the sequels got increasingly ridiculous and the mythology got so unwieldy as to be nonsense.
I believe in Kang and a Quantumverse more than I believe there is someone important on planet Earth whose name is Marquis Vincent De Gramont.
Anyway, the soundtrack mostly, killed this movie for me. That’s closely followed by how long it is. This is a movie where a guy kills the same five or six stuntmen over and over again in the same kind of way from the start until the finish. If you watched this thing I want you to ask yourself how many times you saw two things:
1. A guy using his kevlar suit like Batman’s cape to block a bullet (utter nonsense)
2. John Wick having to get the muzzle of his gun in just the right spot on his enemies face in order to kill him.
However, the movie has plenty of reasons to recommend it to a certain kind of moviegoer. It absolutely looks amazing. And every sequence from New York to Japan to Paris has its own visual style and color and verve. If you are one of those guys who just want to watch something beautiful then this is for you.
This cast is stacked with heavy hitters. An action role that allows Keanu Reeves to be mostly silent and physical was the perfect spot for him and I don’t blame him for going back to the well again and again.
Meanwhile, Hiroyuki Sanada, Donnie Yen, Rina Sawayama, Laurence Fishburne and Clancy (freaking) Brown are all carrying entire worlds with just a few lines and facial expressions.
Bill Skarsgard is practically perfect as arrogant Eurotrash. The Marquis is a great villain who you absolutely want to see get taken down by Mr. Wick.
Nearly all of Ian McShane’s career is built on playing devious father figures to television and movie heroes. And he’s so completely on point here and makes every thing just a bit better.
I love the way he says, “Johnathan.” It’s perfect, please give him all your acting jobs.
And, the final 40 minutes or so of this movie is incredibly good. I imagine I felt that way because the shootouts got more physical and umm crunchy and because the soundtrack finally gave us some relief. They mixed in some classic rock hits and that made a world of difference.
Anyway, I liked the end of this, I just felt like I had to march through a lot of things I didn’t need to get there. There is a version of this movie that has a different soundtrack and is an hour shorter that I would have adored.
But this ain’t it.