The Man in Black is Back: John Wick 4 (2023) - Reviewed

images courtesy Summit Entertainment 

The pairing of director Chad Stahelski and lead actor Keanu Reeves returns in the latest installment of the John Wick franchise. With their fourth installment, their ascent into a pure video game madness is complete. Creative risks are taken, the lighting is on point, the music pulses, and our main star is in stellar form vanquishing those that would do him harm. We know what to expect when it comes to Wick, but this one explores and amplifies everything we’ve seen to this point right down to deadly Sumo wrestlers and martial arts mastery. 

The film is a perfected action spectacle that  takes advantage of its nearly three hour run time with non-stop Gun-Fu and bullet loaded mayhem that has become the definition of this blood soaked series. Just like its predecessors, John Wick 4 is unrelenting in its body count and seems to complete the quadrilogy of films. Both Stahelski and Reeves have stated they’re done for now. Of course, a massive box office haul could change all of that. We’d be remiss in dismissing how well this thing is going to do when it premieres in cinemas. 

Hitting theaters after a release window delay caused by the global pandemic and the lackluster theatrical release of The Matrix Resurrections, Wick is back in fine form, shredding his enemies in close combat that is arguably the most gamer oriented and ‘80s/‘90s inspired of the series so far. Taking hard lessons from all types of platform shooters, this is the pinnacle, even when it becomes repetitive or extremely familiar. 

Following up John Wick 3 with such sheen could not have been an easy task. But Stahelski and crew deliver on their formula tenfold as Reeves continues to slip more into this character with each passing bullet. In typical fashion, there’s not much plot with this super thin script, but that’s absolutely made up for in interesting fight choreography and gun play that is the literal definition of a bullet ballet. Part four does nothing to reinvent the franchise, but instead capitalizes on series tropes and Reeves’ calm and collected onscreen persona, giving the audience exactly what they came for. Pain and blood letting. The kills are interesting again, the combat is inherently fluid, and Reeves fully disappears into his character, which is something he’s struggled with in other roles. 

The John Wick brand continues bringing John Woo inspired stunts and action scenes to a genre that’s so often glossed over and not given due credit. Woo’s inspiration is felt from front to back this time around as Stahelski ups the ante on the lengths of the fight scenes and the levels he forces his main character to fight through, step by painful step. There is zero rest for the wicked this time around. Much like 2011’s The Raid, John Wick 4 never stops. 

Featuring a newly introduced character played by martial arts superstar Donnie Yen, JW4 gets bonus points for action and attitude. Also adding the dramatic skillset of Bill Skarsgard as the main antagonist, this fourth and possibly final entry is the peak of the series. 

No dogs were harmed in the writing of this review.