!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!
John Wick 4. Where to begin…
After Chapters 1-3, my anticipation for this movie included: an overload of action, a plot seething with revenge, and for the High Table to go down. What Chapter 4 served was an unexpected story.
Let’s talk about some martial art supremacy here. Donnie Yen was one of the main reasons I was thrilled to finish off this franchise. If you don’t know Donnie Yen, get to know Donnie Yen. You won’t regret being entertained by his talent.
Donnie Yen plays Caine, a blind assassin with an endearing backstory. But do you know why they made him blind? Because Yen’s skillset superseded Wick’s, so they had to up the stakes by blinding him. (This is a semi-joke.)
For once in a movie with an American lead, they let the Asian guy LIVE ALL THE WAY THROUGH! Praise God! FINALLY! It’s about time, Hollywood!
Donnie Yen was not a side character. He was not a one-scene antagonist. He played a vital role in the entire storyline and he made it all the way through to the end. Thank you, God!
Yen’s performance was as flawless as I expected. He made the choreography look easy. What impressed me most about him, though, was he actually played the character blind. During fight scenes, you’ll see him hesitate while he’s tuning into his surroundings before reacting physically. Just like a sensory-deprived person would. He didn’t react instantly to situations or portray the combat scenes like the practiced sequences they were. Major props for playing blindness realistically!
I also love that Chad Stahleski (director) didn’t go super dramatic with Yen’s sword use. There were no scenes with swords bursting out of the chests of adversaries, spraying blood everywhere. It kept Yen’s fight scene classy, and then the one time when he did cause arterial spray had more impact because of the clean set up prior to. Nicely done.
Listen to Her Purr
For a solid three minutes, we were spoiled with the pleasurable roar of that V8 in the car fu scene around the Arc de Triomphe. Wick’s car wasn’t a Mustang, but my goodness, a girl can’t complain about an engine like that sweet talking through an exhaust like that.
Now that I think about it, it’s probably best that it wasn’t a Mustang. The adrenaline-packed action sequence of John driving headfirst into oncoming traffic mixed with the sound of that engine and the sight of a Stang might have just made me ooze in my seat. I’ll let the ‘Cuda have its moment. Least it’s not Mopar.
The reason I dove headfirst in John Wick to begin with wasn’t the allure of his Boss 429, though a Stang like that does rev up a girl’s heart. No, it was the action for me. I have always preferred the raw and real fight scenes over the cosmetically appealing fight scenes. Fight Club over Rush Hour, if you will. So, when John Wick came out with choreography that was bloody and practical, I was all in.
But in Chapter 4, punches were definitely pulled, and logic was thrown out the window. Two scenes in particular stand out:
At the Osaka Continental when John was using nun-chucks against the armored guards, he hit one of them in the helmet and they reacted as if they were wounded by it. We know from John Wick 3 that the armor of the High Table troops is bulletproof. So, if a bullet can’t penetrate their armor, tell me how they all died by getting shot in the chest and hit in the head with nun-chucks.
John tumbled down—gosh, I lost count of how many—flights of stairs right before the final fight scene and got back on his feet like nothing even happened. And that’s after he’d been fighting for over eight solid minutes. Where was the realism I had come to love and know about the John Wick franchise?
Not only that, but the extras were stalling for their chance to have Wick one-on-one. One guy in the Osaka Continental even shuffled his feet like he was slipping on butter to give Wick a chance to finish with his current attacker. Come on…Wick has spent three solid movies establishing his entire identity on being able to take on the world. But in Chapter 4, he couldn’t take on more than one guy at a time?
And in fight scenes where there were three or more guys in a tight location all aimed at Wick, not a single one of those trained assassins managed to even wound the Baba Yaga.
Filmmakers overused the Kevlar suit and downgraded the opponent to elevate the main character. That’s a cheap shot you won’t find in the previous three films.
Asian Culture Birthed a New Story
Having ties to Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada brought a wisdom to the storyline that wasn’t present before. Revenge had fueled the first three movies, but here we saw revenge ironed out with loyalty and brotherhood. These are trademarks of Asian culture, especially when it comes to martial arts films, and it gave Chapter 4 a rich sense of purpose. A heart, per se.
John Wick Chapter 4 was a beautiful finale to the franchise. What the action lacked, the characters and themes definitely made up for.
Have you seen the movie yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments! Thanks for reading!
Featured Image Credit: WCBE
2 thoughts on “John Wick Chapter 4 Review”
It was frankly boring and unoriginal. It was basically the same movie as the last three. I was hoping for something a little different, but even the ending was exactly what I expected to be (set up in a way to make it seem like the whole thing is a deep fake).
Problems with the movie: How many times do we need to do the night club scene where people are just going to ignore the death, murder, and mayham going on around them?
I agree with your stance on pulled punches. Get shot multipule times? Get back up, but a nunchuck the the head? Out long enough for the next guy to do his thing.
I also agree with you here: Filmmakers overused the Kevlar suit and downgraded the opponent to elevate the main character. That’s a cheap shot you won’t find in the previous three films.
The only problem with it is once you establish it as cannon, you have to explain why they would no longer use it.
The final dual? Come on, no way he didn’t notice John Wick didn’t fire. Everyone in my threatre did.
Not to mention sloppy editing: The whole thing outside the Arch was neat, but half the time you could see the cars empty just after they hit someone. Where’s the driver? The five duces at the card table were completely different cards in the next shot. I noticed a few more, but you get the idea.
Likes: Donnie Yen. I don’t know him by face, but he was great in the movie. I especially love the fight scene with the door bell. It was one of most clever parts of the movie.
Laurance Fishburne: I love his character. He needed more time. They could have easily left out most of Ian Mcshane and built his character up more. Too many cooks in the kitchen here and I think Fishburne is a better character.
The playful banter between Akira and Shimazu. Even serious moments benefit from well placed light heartedness.
I like the symbolism of him falling down the stairs to just climb back up again. I think its how a lot of us feel when its when facing tough challanges in life. Still, the whole thing is ruined by the suspicion of disbelief. He just fell off a four story building on the side of a car not five minutes prior. Jeez how am I sposta believe he just died at the end from a shot in the arm, collar bone, and stomach (the latter two being exactly where he shoots the doctor to make them think the doctor was helping against his will) after all that?
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This is a solid evaluation, JP! I think I zoned out after Wick fell down the stairs. I wasn’t paying attention in the least to Wick in the final duel, only to Donnie Yen (Caine).
I also agree that everyone in the movies has always ignored the carnage occurring around them. How many shots did it take for the clubgoers to notice in the second movie? Too many. And even if the cars WERE driven by people in the 4th movie, they didn’t stop at the sight of human beings in the road. Nobody stopped at all. Everything was set up to make the action scenes as easy to film as possible.
I honestly hadn’t come to JW4 for Wick. I only watched it because Yen was in there. But you’re totally right about how unbelievable it is that Wick died of gunshots wounds after all he’s suffered over the course of 4 movies now. It’s like Wesker being killed in the 6th Resident Evil movie because his arm got stuck in a door. All cheap shots for great characters.