‘John Wick Chapter 4’ Review: There is no such thing as overkill



Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023).

Four men die before the title credits of the fourth installment in the “John Wick” franchise reach the screen. 

Evolving from a narrow tale of revenge, “John Wick Chapter 4” defies the laws of most high-profile action series. Unlike “The Terminator” or “Predator,” the “John Wick” franchise is comparable to fine wine, only getting better with age. 

Directed by Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves as the titular assassin, “Chapter 4” returns the series to its roots while also asking how far John Wick is willing to go in the name of vengeance. Although no longer about the death of his dog or wife, “Chapter 4” defines Wick’s motives to keep fighting in the face of his dwindling allies and increasing target on his back.

As with every new installment, “Chapter 4” only expands on the complex and, at times, boundless mythology of the High Table – a global crime syndicate governing the rules and conduct of the underworld’s most powerful criminal organizations – as well as new, well-rounded and enticing characters. 

From Shamier Anderson’s Mr. Nobody, who won’t pull the trigger until the bounty on Wick’s head is over $25 million, to singer Rina Sawayama’s acting debut as Akira, a fierce assassin hungry for revenge, there are no dull moments in the film’s nearly three-hour runtime. 

Easily one of the best supporting casts within a Wick movie, every actor delivers a stunning and captivating performance. In particular, Bill Skarsgård – portraying the film’s main antagonist, The Marquis Vincent de Gramont – does a phenomenal job at turning just another face of the High Table into a dictatorial boy king willing to do anything to bring Wick to his knees.

While the film reaches one of its widest scopes, with Wick traveling to Japan, Berlin, Paris and New York, “Chapter 4” remains grounded in the hit-man’s relationships, highlighting his allies like Winston (Ian McShane) and former friends such as Caine (Donnie Yen).

Without a doubt, Yen’s performance as Caine – a deadly yet charismatic blind hitman roped back into the grueling life of service to hunt down Wick against his will – stole the spotlight every time he was on screen. Having been praised by Jet Li and Jackie Chan as being one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts within Asian cinema, it’s no surprise that Yen makes some of the most difficult hand-to-hand combat maneuvers look easy.

Caine and Wick’s relationship was another high point in the film. With both previously relinquishing their deadly profession for family alongside their past friendship, the pair presents a stable dynamic, shaping the most personal arc for Wick with the exception of the first film. 

Despite the movie’s 169-minute runtime marking the longest film in the franchise, the story never drags or falters, mostly due to Stahelski’s stunt choreography. From guns, knives, nun-chucks, swords and just about every weapon in existence, Stahelski makes each fight scene feel fluid and realistic. Furthermore, the film brings car stunts to another level. In perhaps one of “Chapter 4’s” most iconic sequences, Wick does a 180-degree drift amid the endless traffic of the historic Arc de Triomphe while still landing headshots from the open door of his stolen 1971 Plymouth Cuda.

If there is one thing the John Wick franchise proves, it’s the power in simplicity. Each film, including “Chapter 4,” doesn’t try to disguise its motives or be something it is not. If you’ve made it this far into the franchise, then there should be no surprises about what “Chapter 4” has in store for viewers. From Keanu Reeves stylistically killing over 100 men per film to a banging electronic dance music soundtrack and a dangerous amount of flashing neon lights, the latest and possibly final film delivers on all fronts. 

Although some may deem “John Wick Chapter 4” to be overkill in every sense of the word, it’s clear that there is no such thing as excessive for a franchise built on the back of a man starting a war in the name of seeking revenge for his murdered dog.