John Wick 4 Review – Action Cinema at Its Best

Exploring the Unyielding Action and Intensity of the Fourth Installment

As the dust settles from the high-stakes climax of his most recent movie adventure, the unyielding John Wick finds himself nursing wounds, yet his spirit is far from defeated. His determination remains undaunted as he is firmly focused on navigating his way out of the deadly underworld that has ensnared him for so long. He’s engaged in a relentless search for freedom, in a world where trust is a luxury and danger lurks around every corner.

Allies from his past emerge from the shadows, with a few willing to lend a helping hand while others pursue him with malicious intent. Yet, amidst this swirling chaos, John discerns a glimmer of hope in the distance, a chance at liberation within reach, albeit at a steep price. His freedom necessitates a violent journey through a maze of adversaries; just a handful or maybe a couple hundred enemies stand between him and the freedom he so desperately seeks.

John Wick movies have emerged as a refreshing phenomenon in the cinematic universe. It’s been quite a while since we’ve been treated to such brilliantly executed adaptations, possessing the electrifying thrills of a video game, without actually deriving their plot from any known game. This innovation is a rare feat, one that few reputable studios have dared to attempt. “John Wick Hex,” for instance, is deemed a commendable attempt, yet it serves more as an intriguing outlier than a definitive embodiment of the enigmatic Keanu Reeves’ character.

Incorporating elements of gaming into films certainly brings its share of pros and cons. The wildly intense, action-packed spectacle is undeniably enthralling, but there’s a fine line between captivating and overbearing. A point highlighted in the third installment, which at times bordered on self-parody, particularly the drawn-out scene featuring Halle Berry, which seemed detached from the overarching narrative.

So, what can we expect from the next chapter? Will the fourth installment of the John Wick series push the boundaries of its self-indulgent extravagance, or will it exercise restraint, dialing back the dramatics a notch? In our comprehensive review of “John Wick 4,” we delve deep into the nitty-gritty of the film to evaluate whether it’s a must-watch for action enthusiasts or if it’s a case of style over substance.

The Unconventional Journey of the John Wick Series

When diving into the heart of what truly distinguishes the John Wick series, it’s important to appreciate the unique journey this series has taken. The inception of the first John Wick movie coincided with a period of relative stagnation in Keanu Reeves’ acting career. For a stretch of time, he was primarily featured in low-budget action films targeting the Video-On-Demand (VOD) market.

The debut film of John Wick, produced on a relatively modest budget of 20 million, was much in line with this trend. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, both transitioning from a long stint as stuntmen, made their directorial debut with this movie.

However, despite its modest origins, John Wick evolved into a sleeper hit, triggering a wave of sequels, each one featuring a larger budget, garnering better reviews, and generating increased box office revenue. Concurrently, Keanu Reeves experienced a resurgent popularity, propelling him back into the realm of top-tier Hollywood stars.

john wick 4

A Refreshing Perspective on Action Cinema

What truly sets the John Wick series apart is its innovative approach to action cinema, largely influenced by Asian film aesthetics. Unlike many of its counterparts, John Wick eschews chaotic editing, excessive camera shaking, and heavy reliance on CGI effects. Instead, the series places a premium on the intricate choreography of fight sequences and stunts, coupled with meaningful interactions with the musical score and surroundings.

The editing is more composed, eschewing frequent cuts and instead, allowing for long, continuous shots. Despite the constant whirlwind of action on screen, the camera is typically slow-moving, providing the audience ample opportunity to fully appreciate the meticulous efforts of the actors and stuntmen.

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A Symphony of Spectacle, Humor, and Homage

Rather than striving for realism, the John Wick series leans into its identity as a provider of grand spectacle. The films blend high-octane action with a sprinkle of humor and a strong undertone of pastiche, an affectionate homage to past tropes of the action cinema genre.

With each subsequent installment, the scale and intensity of this blend escalate, reaching unparalleled heights by the time we get to the fourth film. Here, the creators seem to push the envelope even further in terms of crafting exhilarating action sequences, thereby cementing the series’ reputation as an unforgettable staple in action cinema.

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John Wick 4: A Vibrant Mosaic of Action Cinema

John Wick 4 serves as an exhilarating feast for action movie aficionados, with its remarkable blend of diverse elements drawn from different facets of the genre. The film is not just a thrilling addition to the franchise but also a loving tribute to the breadth and depth of action cinema itself.

It carefully curates inspirations from an array of sub-genres, creating a rich tapestry of exhilarating moments. This broad spectrum includes nostalgic nods to the rugged classics of the 80s, the mesmerizing fluidity of Asian and samurai cinema, the tense standoffs of westerns, and the high-intensity action of video games.

An Impressive Ensemble of Seasoned and Rising Stars

One of the most captivating aspects of John Wick 4 is its meticulously chosen cast. The film features several seasoned actors, some of whom are veterans in the action cinema universe. Hiroyuki Sanada, Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, and Clancy Brown – each of them lends their unique charm and gravitas to the narrative.

These seasoned professionals committed themselves to rigorous training before the commencement of filming, enhancing the authenticity and thrill of the spectacular action sequences. Their commendable dedication extends to performing under challenging conditions and even undertaking some of the stunt work themselves.

Meanwhile, the ensemble is further complemented by a selection of rising talents. Young stars like Bill Skarsgård and Shamier Anderson infuse a fresh energy into the narrative, contributing to the film’s dynamic spectrum of performances. Simultaneously, familiar faces from the franchise’s past also return, including Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and the dearly missed Lance Reddick, whose performance serves as a poignant reminder of his undeniable talent.

John Wick 4, therefore, not only showcases the franchise’s trademark action prowess but also pays heartfelt homage to the rich and varied universe of action cinema. With its carefully curated aesthetics and dedicated ensemble, the film offers an immersive and thrilling experience for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

An Intriguing Start with a Threat to the Continental Hotel

The plot of John Wick 4 kicks off with a bang as Clancy Brown’s unnamed character makes an ominous visit to the renowned Continental Hotel, expertly managed by Winston (Ian McShane). He delivers a dire ultimatum, notifying Winston that the hotel has been stripped of its privileges and will face demolition within an hour.

The gravity of this announcement is amplified as he places an imposing, ornate hourglass on the table, setting it in motion to count down the impending doom. His curt response to Winston’s questions only intensifies the suspense, leaving us on tenterhooks as to what might unfold next.

Plotline: Simplicity Amidst Spectacle

While the John Wick franchise is renowned for its adrenaline-pumping action sequences, the narrative has traditionally been straightforward, often akin to plotlines encountered in video games. This thread remains consistent in the fourth installment. The story’s essence could potentially be pieced together through notes scattered across the movie’s many corpse-strewn locales.

Periodically, the relentless action pauses to allow for some narrative progression and to provide a motive for the ensuing mayhem. But these story segments, often minimal and simplistic, mirror the unpretentious plot structure of vintage video games.

Donnie Yen’s Stellar Performance as Caine

Among the many shining elements in the film, the character of Caine, brilliantly portrayed by Donnie Yen, emerges as a beacon. Caine, a blind Asian man, is entangled in a complex relationship with John Wick (Keanu Reeves).

Despite their past camaraderie, Caine finds himself compelled to confront John due to an insidious threat from the leader of the Marquis Council (Bill Skarsgård) targeting his daughter’s life. This tragic situation culminates in a duel between the reluctant adversaries, highlighting the deep-seated respect they retain for each other throughout the conflict.

Yen’s portrayal of Caine is enhanced by his exceptional martial arts skills. Director Chad Stahelski effectively leverages Yen’s physical prowess, delivering intensely choreographed fight scenes. Despite his blindness, Caine dismantles opponents with precision and grace, though he’s not depicted with enhanced sensory perception like characters such as Daredevil.

He navigates his surroundings using his stick, reacting to his enemies based on their sounds and shooting with reasonable accuracy. It’s clear that the choreographers meticulously planned each action sequence involving Caine, contributing to the film’s visual spectacle and emotional depth.

A Mixed Bag of Action Sequences

John Wick 4, unfortunately, falls short when it comes to the innovation and variation in its action sequences. A multitude of combat scenes fail to offer any standout or unique moments, and suspiciously reuse the same moves multiple times. At a certain point, it becomes hard to ignore the repetition of John subduing his adversaries with his legs, followed by a climactic bullet to the head.

Even though these fights are well-executed and the waiting enemies aren’t glaringly obvious, they begin to lose their edge due to repetition. The confrontation with Scott Adkins particularly leaves a desire for more – despite the amusing sight of the gigantic Scott donning a fat suit, the overall scene lacks ambition.

Highlight Reel: The Final Hour

Interestingly, out of the sprawling 180-minute runtime, it’s primarily the scenes from the concluding hour that leave a lasting impression. This smart directorial decision makes these memorable moments linger in viewers’ minds, offsetting the fatigue from the lengthy screening and the slightly weaker opening sequences.

The frantic scene by the triumphal arch, with cars zipping between the fighters; the brilliantly choreographed brawl within a building, captured from an overhead perspective akin to twin-stick shooters; and the riveting face-off on the Sacre Coeur Basilica’s staircase – these sequences form the essence of the movie. The scenes featuring Yen’s exceptional performance are undoubtedly another highlight, but collectively these engaging moments account for barely 60 minutes of the entire film. The question then arises: what about the remaining 110 minutes?

The Perils of Self-Consumption and Surface-level Plot Development

Regrettably, the “John Wick” series appears to be ensnared in a cycle of self-consumption, a trend that began with the third installment. Despite possessing an intriguing mythology, successive films have only touched upon it superficially and cursorily. The character of ‘The Tracker’ (Shamier Anderson), for instance, is a perfect example of this issue. While he excels at his job and owns a high-tech canine companion, little else can be said about him.

His removal from the film would, disappointingly, result in no substantial change. The sight of Keanu traversing from one fascinating locale to another, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake, remains thrilling. However, when this becomes the movie’s primary focus, the lack of a more compelling script and a tighter runtime becomes glaring. The outcome is a three-hour saga crammed with non-stop action, but offering little beyond that, which may still appeal to some audiences.

The Unchained Fury: Parabellum

While it’s no secret that the primary attraction of the John Wick franchise is its raw, unrelenting action, rather than its storyline or world-building, the fourth installment embraces this fact to an even greater extent. The narrative, although engaging, merely sets the stage for the jaw-dropping, pedal-to-the-metal action scenes that have become synonymous with the series.

John Wick 4 takes the outrageousness up a notch, completely discarding the laws of physics in favor of a more spectacular display of cinematic feats. As such, the film shares more in common with superhero films, Transformers, or the Fast and Furious series than with conventional action films.

The Daring Shift to Blockbuster-style Action

If the movie’s pivot toward blockbuster-style sequences discourages you, then John Wick 4 may not be to your liking – especially if the third installment’s outrageous scenes and events already tested your patience. Yet, this shift towards more popular blockbuster elements is precisely what works in John Wick 4’s favor.

The film delves unapologetically into fantasy, presenting a comic-book-style hero who can single-handedly duel with fifteen foes, survive a multi-story fall, get hit by a car multiple times, or tumble down stairs without a scratch. This over-the-top convention is the series’ unique charm, albeit not to everyone’s taste.

A Melange of Inspiration and Spectacular Scenes

Director Chad Stahelski masterfully borrows elements not just from superhero movies, but also from samurai cinema classics, adding an authentic touch to the Japan-set sequence. Homages to classics like The Matrix or video games like Hotline Miami contribute to some of the film’s most dazzling action scenes.

A noteworthy strength of John Wick 4 is its prioritization of longer, more intense battles over their frequency. Although there are fewer fights, their 20-30 minute durations ensure immersive and memorable sequences, such as the spectacular roundabout duel at the Arc de Triomphe.

Exhilarating Entertainment With a Hint of Monotony

Despite its nearly three-hour runtime, John Wick 4’s relentless entertainment keeps the pace brisk and the action engaging. However, towards the end, a hint of monotony creeps in as John Wick battles wave after wave of adversaries on his ascent up a long staircase. Despite the urgency of his mission, Wick’s progress is constantly hampered by fresh hordes of foes.

The film’s creators could have been more imaginative in plotting this sequence, which metaphorically represents John Wick as an unstoppable force of chaos and destruction. While this powerful symbol of John’s quest for peace is intriguing, the repetitiveness of the sequence can feel tedious. Despite this minor shortfall, John Wick 4 remains a captivating blend of fantasy, action, and unabashed extravagance.

The Review

John Wick 4

7 Score

John Wick 4 delivers an exhilarating feast for action movie enthusiasts, showcasing a vibrant mosaic of action cinema elements. The film maintains the series' trademark focus on meticulously choreographed fight sequences and stunning visuals. It pays homage to various sub-genres and incorporates influences from Asian film aesthetics, resulting in a refreshing perspective on action cinema. The ensemble cast, featuring both seasoned and rising stars, delivers commendable performances, with Donnie Yen standing out in his role as Caine. While the film falls short in terms of innovation and variation in its action sequences, and some parts feel repetitive, it remains a captivating and entertaining entry in the John Wick franchise, appealing to fans of the series and newcomers alike.


  • Exhilarating and well-choreographed fight sequences
  • Refreshing approach to action cinema, incorporating Asian film aesthetics
  • Vibrant blend of diverse elements from different facets of the action genre
  • Meticulously chosen ensemble cast, featuring seasoned actors and rising talents
  • Immersive and thrilling experience for both longtime fans and newcomers
  • Memorable scenes and set pieces in the final hour of the film


  • Lack of innovation and variation in action sequences, with some fights feeling repetitive
  • Superficial plot development and minimal exploration of the intriguing mythology
  • Some characters are underdeveloped and add little to the overall story
  • Pacing issues, with a slightly weaker opening and repetitive sequences
  • Some scenes may feel over-the-top and unrealistic, resembling superhero films

Review Breakdown

  • Score 7
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