JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 had everything I wanted in an action film: incredibly well-choreographed fight scenes, gun battles, car chases, and lots and lots of stunts. In fact, I think it has too much.
At 2 hours and 49 minutes, CHAPTER 4 feels overly long. On the one hand, it’s fun to watch Keanu Reeves battle one villain after another, but nearly three hours of it is tedious. In what should be the final installment of the JOHN WICK franchise, dialogue and plot are side-lined almost entirely, replaced by nameless baddies for Wick to defeat. Various sections felt like a video game, and as the second hour came and went, I wondered if we’d ever get to the final boss.
CHAPTER 4 is the most masculine of the series and devoid, from what I could see, of any LBGTQ+ characters that have featured heavily in past installments. Yes, we do get a couple of minor female characters, but their screen time was really small when compared to that of Adrianne Palicki, Ruby Rose, and Halle Berry from previous films. Even all the “nameless baddies” seemed to be male. We already know from this franchise that henchwomen exist. Were they too busy for this story? The original JOHN WICK stands as a great solo action piece. Chapters 2-4 work together as a trilogy. I imagine someday (if it’s not happening already), fans can flock to a theatre to watch all four in a row.
Wick is an anti-hero. He’s an assassin, so by those means, he’s not a good guy. But Keanu Reeves is incredibly popular and likable, so the audience is asked to root for him against even worse people. Every action sequence throughout the series, but especially here, is crème de la crème-top notch-superb-second to none. So here wherein lies my conundrum. Is it possible to get too much of a good thing that it jeopardizes the overall film and franchise? It pains me to say this as a 35-year fan of Reeves, as a staunch defender of him and his roles over the last four decades, but… it is just too much here, and it hurts more than it helps the Wick franchise. It’s more obvious than ever that JOHN WICK could have been a trilogy instead of a quad and still been as badass. The team behind the films looks like they’re having the time of their lives. The addition of Donnie Yen and Bill Skarsgård is…as they say chef’s kiss. But Donnie should have been best added to an earlier Wick film, with Bill’s Marquis staying as the #1 baddie here. In the world of movie studios canceling and destroying completed films, I’d like to give the Wick creative team the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps each movie after the first wasn’t a given ticket. But I keep going back to: Chapters 2-4 would have worked better as two films instead of three.
Keanu is perhaps my favorite actor. He’s absolutely my favorite action star. In a world of dwindling “movie stars,” he’s one of the only ones left. Plus, by all measures, he’s just a great, all-around good dude. And at 58 years old, he’s not going to be doing these types of films forever. The JOHN WICK franchise has come to a satisfying conclusion. I’m begging the studios not to “Fast & Furious” it until we’ve got an 80-year-old Wick assassinating people on a Mars outpost in 2045.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 is now playing exclusively in theatres.