Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ is a suitably massive addition to the landmark action series

The epic potential finale of the series is as ridiculous and brutal as it gets
Courtesy of IMDb

The humble beginnings of 2014’s “John Wick” are long gone. Each sequel to the surprise hit has doubled down on world-building, filling the universe with enough rules and secondary characters to challenge any modern video game. The acclaimed action films have shown us shootouts on horseback and murder by library books, but somehow “John Wick: Chapter 4” makes them all look quaint.

The film returns to the world of John Wick with the titular hitman (Keanu Reeves) on the run from the all-powerful High Table and their seemingly endless goons. Allied with the jovial Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), Wick vows to take down the Table once and for all, finally freeing himself from their murderous demands.

To properly challenge the Table (as these hitmen literally live and die by their rules), Wick must acquire new international alliances and face off against a new foppish villain, the Marquis de Garmond (Bill Skarsgard).

If you liked the previous films, I’ve got great news. “John Wick: Chapter 4” employs all the greatest tropes of the series: lengthy balletic fight choreography, deadly serious speeches about fate and a cast of respected character actors with names like “The Harbinger.” The classic elements are back, but there is a sense of finality in this film that makes every move feel more important. The movie is styled with the self-importance of a biblical epic.

This franchise draws much inspiration from video games, “Chapter 4” even has levels. After defeating a mob boss in Morocco, Wick faces off against a challenger in Osaka and then Berlin. Each location harbors its own token or title acquisition necessary to move forward.

The structure is almost comically simple, but it ends up working beautifully for a film so defined by its awe-inspiring fight sequences. Those fight sequences would be nothing without interesting new villains, and Director Chad Stahelski gathered a truly impressive cast.

Rounding out the rogues’ gallery is Hong Kong martial arts legend Donnie Yen and cult favorite action star Scott Adkins. Yen shows off his skill for physical charm as a blind assassin named Caine, coolly navigating through combat with ease and a cane that doubles as a sword. Adkins, clad in a fat suit and gold teeth, gleefully cackles in an absurd German accent as he clobbers Wick in a Berlin nightclub.

While the two may not be household names, their exalted status in the world of action filmmaking confirms that the franchise operates on macho, testosterone-fueled aesthetics. It’s really a nerd fest that bows down to the legends in the field.

The “John Wick” series has always worn its’ inspirations on its sleeve, pulling story beats and even cast members from Hong Kong action cinema, Spaghetti Westerns and the gritty revenge films of the 1970s.

Keanu Reeves displays all the subterranean sorrow and bubbling rage that a hero from any of these film’s needs. “Chapter 4” is the most blatant in its’ influences, copping an edit from “Lawrence of Arabia” and shot compositions from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” As obvious as they are, the nods fit nicely into the already heightened world of these characters.

Being the fourth in the franchise, there is an expectation that this entry would act as a finale.

A sense of finality is felt throughout the film, but particularly in its’ length — nearly three hours. The bloat is hard to ignore, but the emotional wallop of the final act is seriously satisfying, making for the best ending of the series. There were many story threads from “Chapter 3” to tidy up, which the film achieved with grandeur and bombast.

To its credit, the near non-stop violence never feels futile. The filmmakers clearly demonstrate that the gunplay and hand-to-hand combat is physically taxing to both perpetrator and target. Where the dominant superhero films of today shy away from blood and injury, and thus minimizes the impact of such violence, the “John Wick” series shows the impacts of every hit. The result is a visceral viewing experience, and one that ends up feeling more impressive.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is an exercise in maximalist entertainment. There will be no subtlety, only brute force in impeccable scenarios across the globe. It’s a delight, one whose strengths may even justify the hefty length.

Thomas Machacz can be reached at [email protected].

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    Peggy IngramApr 13, 2023 at 3:22 pm

    I love the John wick movies they’re entertaining I love the action in it I haven’t seen John wick 4 yet but I know it’s going to be fantastic movie I’m a action lover movie person I think they are great and he makes a the movie great he is a fantastic actor thank you