Film Review – John Wick: Chapter 4

Film Review of John Wick Chapter 4 starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Shamier Anderson and Ian McShane


Chad Stahelski


Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgård, Donnie Yen, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Natalia Tena and Clancy Brown



John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

Almost eight and a half years ago, it all started when a group of Russian mobsters invaded John Wick’s home, stole his car and killed his dog. Over the course of three previous films, we have seen the retired assassin being pulled back into the underbelly of the criminal underworld, have been shown the vast variety of The Continental hotels that exist, as well as its rules, and learned how The High Table sets out to punish those that brake the rules, highlighting that they can just be as vengeful as Mr. Wick himself. The franchise so far has made over $585m at the worldwide box office and with the current box office figures for Chapter 4 looks set to be the biggest one yet for the franchise. For context, the first John Wick made over $86m in its entire cinematic run at the worldwide box office. Currently in its opening week, John Wick: Chapter 4 has made over $146m. But does the fourth installment in the franchise live up to the hype? Chapter 4 commences not long after the events of Chapter 3 – Parabellum, where John is in hiding, regaining his strength to exact revenge on the High Table. However, his drastic actions of revenge lead to a drastic consequences from the High Table as they allow Marquis Vincent de Gramont their full backing in solving the John Wick problem, putting old friends and acquaintances in danger. John Wick learns of a way to earn his freedom though from the High Table, which will take him across the globe, as well as be chased by an army of assassins to prevent him from completing his task.

Film Review - John Wick Chapter 4

The journey of Chad Stahelski in the film industry is one that I can’t help but marvel at. A veteran stuntman in the business, having started in the early 90’s, Chad would helm the original John Wick alongside David Leitch. And while David Leitch has gone on to direct other films, Stahelski has remained with the franchise till now and, honestly, I believe he’s outdone himself here with Chapter 4. The way that he captures the action in lengthy sequences, allowing them to manifest for audiences to see every piece of violent ballet that’s been choreographed by the actors, stunt team etc., it’s done in such a crisp manner. There’s one notable sequence, a crane oner that’s being now referred to as the ‘Dragon’s Breath’ scene, that audiences will absolutely adore and will wonder if it is a notable homage to the video game Hotline Miami (even though the director has now stated it was The Hong Kong Massacre video game). The Dragon’s Breath scene isn’t the only memorable scene in the film, actually there’s a lot of scenes/sequences that are so well structured that it’s hard to pick a favourite from the Osaka fight (that, pretty much the setting of Osaka as a whole, feels like it takes up a third of the film), to the mandatory nightclub sequence where John Wick must kill someone in order to achieve a way-in to make his duel with the Marquis legitimate, to the Arc de Triomphe car chase/shoot sequence, to the 222 steps up a long staircase with John Wick having to beat the clock and an army of assassins, you’ll pretty much be as exhausted as John is before the credits roll.


There also a few notable crew members that are worth mentioning in this review. The cinematography from Dan Laustsen is, at times, beautiful to look at, with one particular scene that stood out for me was when John Wick is facing off against Killa’s goons in the nightclub in Berlin. The colour grading in the film as well also must be commended as to how it makes the film visually beautiful to look at. From the fiery orange in the scene involving the Marquis, Winston and Charon as they discuss The Continental being condemned, to the use of red as John Wick awaits Shimazu’s arrival at the top of the Osaka Continental, the film just bursts with vibrant colours in its quieter moments, and it’s a terrific job from colourist Jill Bogdanowicz and the rest of the team from Company 3. What also works well in the films favour is the score composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, as well as the use of music, particularly in the Dragon’s Breath scene as it uses music from the other three films as a nice cherry-on-top moment for fans that have been following the franchise. There’s a particular needle-drop in the staircase sequence that I couldn’t help but pop for. Finally, the entire stunt team and everyone involved in that side of the film have to be commended and the Academy has to now finally realise that it’s team to give everyone involved on the stunts side of the film industry their due and create a bloody category for them to be merited for their efforts. And finally, the sound team should also be applauded for their work as you can feel every punch (especially in the opening), every kick, every gunshot, every bone crunch, body tossed, you name it, you hear it and you feel its impact. The films runtime certainly raised eyebrows before anyone saw the film (two hours and forty-nine minutes), but with the amount of new characters that are introduced in the film, as well as the number of creative action/martial arts sequences we get in the film, for me personally on repeated viewing I can’t fault the length.


Keanu Reeves is exactly what you require him to be here. John Wick is now a man with few words (see in contrast how the character was in the original film to now), he lets his actions do the talking for him. Is it hilarious that at one point he answers with a ‘Yeah’ that sounds more like it was a question? Yeah. But once again he completely commits to that side of his craft (action, stunt work) and in turn has moulded one of the iconic action figures in modern cinema. From the familiar faces in the film, Ian McShane just oozes gravitas whenever he’s on screen as Winston, still plotting schemes in which he can benefit from the outcome, to Laurence Fishburne still having a good time (but not as much as he did in Chapter 3) as the Bowery King, particularly with his opening monologue. From the new characters that appear in the film, everyone gets to shine here in their own way. Hiroyuki Sanada, a veteran martial artist, appears here as John Wick’s old friend and the manager of the Osaka Continental Hotel, Shimazu Koji. Immediately with his presence, Hiroyuki commands your attention and with his brief stint in the film he makes you immediately buy into this friendship he has with John, as well as the connection he has with the assassin Caine (more on him later). Making her film debut as Koji’s daughter Akira, Rina Sawayama will certainly gain some praises from audiences and who can blame them? Her character stands out with the limited screentime she has, especially in how she moves when taking out goons of the Marquis’ assassins. Speaking of the Marquis, Bill Skarsgård appears to relish playing the role of the Marquis Vincent de Gramont, the one this time that is not only gunning for John Wick, but is seemingly looking to erase the idea of what he represents in order to prevent his influence spreading any further amongst those that serve under the table. He also seems to have as many outfit changes as John Wick does weapons. His right-hand man Chidi is played by Marko Zaror and his is very good and effective as he continuously persists in stopping John Wick throughout the course of the film. Scott Adkins has a lot of fun portraying the character of Killa Harkan. Though he may be in a fat suit and rather cartoonish of a character, he yet fits into this world (and fitting into the middle portion of the film, it’s welcomed considering the runtime) and Adkins, another veteran martial artist, still gets to showcase his skillset.


He’s been around for a while and has stood out with his performances in the films and tv shows I’ve seen him in in the past, but Shamier Anderson’s performance here really stood out for me amongst the majority of the ensemble. He plays the role of the Tracker, aka ‘Mr. Nobody’, an assassin that is not only interested on the bunny on John Wick’s head, but also to help raise it in order for the bounty to reach the fee that he wants, so while his end goal is to take down John, he also helps him out in certain predicaments. While we know next to nothing about his character, other than the book that he carries and aided by his dog companion, he’s a fascinating character to watch and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see the Tracker on the big screen in the future. Finally let’s talk about Donnie Yen. Donnie Yen is an absolute legend for his filmography alone and here he is thoroughly entertaining and captivating to watch as Caine, a blind assassin that’s an old acquaintance of John that is forced to hunt him down or face a terrible consequence for declining. Another character that is so fascinating to follow that I wouldn’t be surprised that there’ll be a spinoff on him.



We, the audience, have followed Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeve’s journey during the course of this franchise and in many ways it feels like we’ve peaked here with John Wick: Chapter 4, as I’m not sure how they can top it in the future. The ensemble is terrific, the action is spectacularly choreographed and constructed, and it may just be the best Hollywood studio action/martial arts film we’ll get for a long time.