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John Wick: Chapter 4 is better and bloodier with Keanu Reeves still saving dogs and shooting humans

Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 4 also stars Ian McShane, Lance Riddick, Hiroyuki Sanada, Laurence Fishburne and Donnie Yen

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 25.03.23, 03:37 PM
Keanu Reeves as John Wick in Chapter 4, currently running at cinemas.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in Chapter 4, currently running at cinemas. IMDb

Four movies in and John Wick still loves dogs more than he does humans. He also still knows how to deliver killer shots and stabs, and he still can survive massive amounts of bodily damage. In short, John Wick: Chapter 4 has everything that has made the franchise such a hit. In fact, it is even better than what has come before.

The carnage begins right after a short opening scene of Keanu Reeves training in a new suit from The Bower King (Laurence Fishburne). The body count hits four in the second scene itself, all done on horseback in the middle of a desert, but it is only setting the stage for epic action pieces that escalate the body count as the stakes keep getting higher.

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The High Table keeps raising the bounty on Wick’s head and gets Marquis de Gramont — a delightfully over-the-top evil Bill Skarsgard — to finally put John Wick in the ground. This time around Reeves’ Wick takes the fight to the High Table, spelling trouble for the few allies he has left — Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of the New York Continental, and his concierge Charon (Lance Riddick); and Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada), the manager of the Osaka Continental, and his daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama), among others.

Joining the melee is Caine (Donnie Yen), as an old associate of Wick’s, who has been forced to pick up the bounty on Wick to save his daughter, and The Tracker/Mr Nobody (Shamier Anderson and his faithful canine — yep, that’s the dog Wick decides to save instead of saving himself from his master *heart-eye emoji*). Once all the cards are on the table, the action zips from New York to Osaka to Berlin and Paris, the last being the location of the most epic fight sequences, not one, but three.

One might think that the gun battles and sword fights and cars pinballing humans might get old but director Chad Stahelski manages to raise the bar and keep it fresh with his shots and the choreography. Whether it is killing hordes of High Table henchmen in Osaka, or out-gunning assassins in a Parisian villa shot from a birds-eye view like a video game, or that insane action set piece at the Arc de Triomphe traffic circle with cars whizzing past, or John’s climb up a flight of stairs to reach a plaza for a death match. All of it done with an undertone of subtle humour that takes it up a notch.

Also exceptional is the universe of John Wick — the surreal underground world of assassins lit up in neon lights and covered in shadows, with its rules and honour code and obligations that we have come to love.

And of course there are the actors. McShane with his palpable cynicism, Skarsgard who is deliciously evil, Sanada with his gravitas. The standout of the film, however, is Donnie Yen as Caine, a blind assassin who just wants to be free of the High Table, like Wick. The fight sequence between Yen and Sanada is worth treasuring as are his moments with Wick. No one can say Reeves has great acting chops but who needs that when all he needs to say is “Yeah” and “I need guns” to get the whole movie hall cheering for him?

Three people who survive John Wick: Chapter 4 that we wouldn’t mind seeing more of — and we don’t want the world of John Wick to die — are Caine, The Tracker, and of course, Akira, whose take-no-nonsense demeanour and kickass fight sequence had us enamoured from get go.

John Wick: Chapter 4 does provide a closure of sorts to the story of John Wick, make what you will of the last scenes. But there is enough ambiguity to keep the story going, as we sincerely hope it will. Stay for the end credits sequence; no, Baba Yaga is not back, but a new story might just come out and we definitely won’t be saying no.

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