SXSW: Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves ship the largest, most elaborate, and finest movie on this unlikely motion saga.
The “John Wick” franchise has developed from a small-scale story of revenge for the demise of a spouse and the killing of a do to a globe-trotting epic that spans continents, dozens of characters, and an intricate mythology. In its fourth chapter, director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves carry this franchise again to its roots whereas increasing the world and the story to greater and bolder locations. The consequence just isn’t solely the perfect film within the franchise, however the perfect American motion blockbuster since George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Street.”
After going to conflict with primarily all the world, and inflicting the deaths of lots of of individuals, “Chapter 4” lastly begins pondering the query of simply how far John Wick is keen to go for revenge, how many individuals near him he’s keen to hazard, and whether or not it was all price it. At this level, that is not concerning the killing of his spouse and canine, it’s about burning down a system that at all times resented Wick for abandoning it.
The issue is that now, John Wick’s mates and acquaintances are paying the value of his little revolt. This begins with the closure after which destruction of the Continental Resort by the enigmatic Excessive Desk, who’ve now resorted to hiring The Marquis. That is Invoice Skarsgård doing his finest French Joker, taking part in the Marquis as a ruthless, usually hilarious, at all times chaotic and clever villain.
Like with each movie within the collection, “John Wick: Chapter 4” provides to its ludicrously advanced mythology, introducing new guidelines to the Excessive Desk’s command, new sections of the franchise’s secret world of assassins, and new distinctive characters. There’s Shamier Anderson’s Mr. No person, a tracker who is aware of precisely the place John Wick shall be subsequent however waits patiently till his bounty is giant sufficient to be price it to him, and who’s at all times accompanied by a devoted (and scene-stealer) German Shepherd. Whereas the movie goes larger in scope, it additionally manages to remain pretty grounded within the thought of relationships, specializing in John Wick and his allies and mates, equivalent to Winston — who tackle a bigger function this time round — or Wick’s former good friend, Caine.
Caine is the perfect character within the movie, with Donnie Yen bringing his martial arts superstardom to the “John Wick” universe with an intimidating but charismatic blind murderer with an analogous backstory to Wick, who’s pressured to hunt him on the request of the Excessive Desk. Even when he’s not preventing, Yen steals each scene he’s in, even by simply slurping on noodles whereas his henchmen die throughout him, or when he makes use of Wifi-controlled doorbells to trace his enemies.
Creator Derek Kolstad steps down because the screenwriter of the movie, leaving scribe duties completely to the co-writer of the earlier entry within the franchise, Shay Hatten, in addition to Michael Finch. Regardless of the lengthy working time, “John Wick: Chapter 4” has impeccable pacing. It by no means drags, however feels tightly centered, and manages to develop even the brand new supporting solid, like Rina Sawayama’s murderer Akira — a standout — or Scott Adkins having the time of his life as a German murderer lined in heavy prosthetics. It additionally helps that this chapter within the story is nearly continuous motion, having every of the movie’s three acts revolving round breathtaking set piece after breathtaking set piece — every with its personal enemies, weapons, and units.
Certainly, one of the best ways to explain “John Wick: Chapter 4” is that it usually seems like watching “Mad Max: Fury Street” and marveling at how they pulled that film off with out killing half the crew. As talked about, every set takes benefit of the totally different places and crews to ship wholly distinctive struggle scenes, and like in each film of the franchise, it continues to be a delight to see Keanu Reeves’ John Wick always be out of breath, knocked down, after which crushed up earlier than he stands again up. The final arc, specifically, must be positioned within the Louvre, with a struggle in the midst of a transited Arc de Triomphe.
And but, as cool as it’s to see a weak John Wick, he nonetheless wants just a few devices. Clear amongst them, nonetheless, is his superpowered magical swimsuit that appears to fully deflect bullets, which turns the characters into superheroes about as truly weak as a cartoon character. It by no means stops being a bit too ridiculous to see these assassins cowl their face with their fits and simply not take any injury — simply as John Wick is now apparently proof against ache from being hit by a automobile — however it’s straightforward to let this slide when the motion scenes are so good.
Returning cinematographer Dan Laustsen continues to actually perceive and make the most of neon blues and reds, however he additionally offers us an unbelievable struggle executed as a one-liner with an overhead shot that makes the scene appear like the “Hotline Miami” online game.
We’re 4 films in, and about to get spin-offs. It is a film that appears not ahead towards some cash-grab sequel, however towards the previous and the way we received right here. Whether or not he will get out alive or lifeless, John Wick has to start out fascinated about the place this quest leads, the place the highway constructed on all of the lifeless our bodies he’s been laying in entrance of him leads. The reply is surprisingly meditative and poignant, one which makes this essentially the most emotionally resonant film of the franchise.
The “John Wick” saga has modified and developed all through the years, For this movie, there is no such thing as a denying the way it has made Chad Stahelski one among our greatest motion filmmakers, and the way the franchise gave Keanu one more career-redefining function. It’s been a wild journey, and the most effective and most constant film collection ever. Regardless of the place the roads lead, nonetheless, “I’m considering John Wick is again.”
“John Wick: Chapter 4” premiered on the 2023 SXSW Movie Competition. Lionsgate will launch it in theaters on Friday, March 24.
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