John Wick 4 Review: The greatest 'videogame' movie ever

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulMar 26, 2023 | 09:00

John Wick 4 Review: The greatest 'videogame' movie ever

The wait is over. Our Lord and Saviour Keanu graces the screen as the fabled Baba Yaga once more, but this time, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

The fourth installment in stuntman-turned-filmmaker Chad Stahelski’s John Wick franchise marks the last in the cinematic franchise (though talks of Ana de Armas’s spinoff series are already in the air). 

The unkillable, the unstoppable and the undefeatable titular character is back, following a little tumble off the roof of the New York Continental in the last chapter, as Keanu’s blood-soaked fists pounding away at a practice dummy reverberate through the hall. A dramatic intro monologue from Lawrence Fishburne sets the stage for the film. The hunt begins.


Although, it seems Wick might have a light day’s work when the New York Continental is deconsecrated and demolished for its manager’s failures. Ian McShane’s Winston stands responsible for Wick’s rampage in front of the new big bad in town - a towering French adversary played by the intimidating Bill Skarsgard.

Unfortunately, Winston’s affable concierge, Charon, pays the price for his crimes and is shot and killed early on. Though more of the character could have been worth exploring in the franchise, the late Lance Reddick, who met with a premature death earlier this week, tied things up neatly for the writers with his character bowing out of the franchise.

There isn’t much new about the direction in which the narrative is taking us. The plot seems just as formulaic as the last, with Wick out to kill anything and anyone that challenges him. Only this time, Wick has a Chinese Daredevil and Will Smith and his dog from I Am Legend, out gunning for him.

The remarkable Donnie Yen breathes fresh life into the franchise as a skilled blind assassin, Caine, who makes use of his surroundings and clever doorbell-sounding sensors to make pincushions out of his enemies; while another newcomer, Shamier Anderson shotguns his way through crowds as his K9 companion rips their opponents gonads to shreds.


So what’s new? What makes this film particularly great?

The John Wick franchise has taken the world by storm with its breathtaking action sequences and groundbreaking stunt choreography. The films have set a new standard for the action genre, and it isn’t really difficult to see why.

The choreography in the films is both intricate and visceral, with each move executed with precision and grace, only seemingly one-upped with every passing film. The choreographers have taken a unique approach to combat, blending martial arts with gunplay to create a seamless and thrilling viewing experience that feels almost... videogame-like.

Take a moment to digest the John Wick movies. An omnipotent, nearly immortal main character, a sketchy storyline punctuated with fight sequences every five minutes, gorgeous cutscenes, incredulous villains, music by Tyler Bates and most importantly - never-ending swathes of NPCs (Non-Playable Characters for non-gaming noobs) dying increasingly creative deaths as we progress. Videogame much?

Yet even as a ‘videogame’ movie, the film seems to elevate and exaggerate all that we have come to love and enjoy from the medium to a whole new level.

Most impressively, the stunt choreography in the film seamlessly incorporates the environment into the action. The fights are not confined to a single space, but instead take place across entire sets, with the characters using everything from furniture to cars as weapons. From cyberpunk-ian Osaka to the bustling roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe - each sequence makes the most out of its distinct surroundings to formulate the most creative ways to kill off NPC’s, much to our delight of course.


With most actors performing many of their own stunts, the fight scenes are physically demanding and require a high level of skill and athleticism. However each performer - from 58-year-old Keanu to each insignificant NPC - rises to the challenge, delivering jaw-dropping action that just barely keeps us from falling off the edge of our seats.

Reeves's commitment to the physical demands of the role is evident in every fight scene, as he moves with a fluidity and grace beyond the confines of his age. His martial arts training and gunplay are outstanding, as he executes complex moves and maneuvers with ease.

Even more impressive than Reeves's physicality however, is his understanding of the emotional component of the fight scenes. Wick is driven by his unbridled grief and rage, and Reeves's performance captures that intensity in every punch and kick. Though I feel compelled to note how some of his one-liner retorts fell flatter than the gold-toothed German gangster did on his head.

But perhaps what really stood out the most this time around were the film’s fantastic set pieces and production design. Be it the ornate palatial designs from the Marquis’s residence or the stylish modernist aesthetic of the neon-lit Osaka Continental; Kevin Kavanaug’s designs heighten the extravagant sets to sensational levels.

Add to the mix Dan Laustsen phenomenal cinematography (with one of the most entertaining overhead shots in recent memory as Wick pulverises enemies with Dragonfire bullets) and Nathan Orloff’s painstakingly edited final cut and you have yourself a blockbuster masterpiece.

The film delivers a fitting end to Wick’s endless berserker rampage. As a beautiful sun rises over the steps of the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, our indomitable warrior breathes his last. It seems the plot armour finally gave way. 

John Wick 4 certainly sets new standards for action films, thanks in large part to its technical prowess and should most definitely be giving the rest of the year’s blockbusters a run for their money.

We are going with 4.5 out of 5 stars for John Wick 4.

Last updated: March 26, 2023 | 09:00
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