The landscape of modern action cinema has been complicated to say the least. Many current filmmakers stick to tried and true tropes that ensure ticket sales rather than invoke genuine awe or wonder.
The “John Wick” franchise has been an exception to this rule since the release of its first film in 2014.
The original’s simple premise is elevated by the well-choreographed and wonderfully captured action sequences that surround it. The two sequels that followed built on the rich world that the protagonist inhabits, while simultaneously upping the ante in the action department.
The latest film not only lives up to the first three, but also overshadows them in nearly every conceivable way.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is an action extravaganza of monstrous proportions.
From the opening frame, the audience is reintroduced to the brutality of this world, complete with ear-shattering sound design and meticulous camerawork.
While the film initially holds back to introduce a new slate of supporting characters, this resistance only assists the screenplay in building tension. And once the tension has reached its peak and the audience collectively holds their breath, it snaps like a rubber band and the film relentlessly stuns for the remainder of its run time.
The title hero is once again thrust into environments where it is him versus the world, and he has no intention of losing, using every item at his disposal to dispatch swaths of henchmen in increasingly brutal fashion.
Car chases, sword fights and battles on staircases are just a few of the challenges that Mr. Wick must face, throughout the nearly three-hour running time. This juggernaut of a motion picture excels with every massive set piece that the screenplay throws its way.
The dedication of Keanu Reeves is more notable here than ever before. Despite his age, 58, he brings a striking level of physicality to the role, as well as an undeniable dose of heart and charisma.
While sometimes wooden in his line delivery, Reeves is as endearing as ever and helps to give the character an impactful arc amidst the action-packed mayhem.
Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard and Shamier Anderson, among others, help round out the supporting cast with each character bringing something special to the larger tapestry.
The cinematography is just as striking as the fight sequences. The shot composition and production design combine to make for a dazzling concoction of vibrance and sleekness.
Beautiful isn’t a term many would consider when describing most films of this nature, but it is a word that feels most appropriate when describing “John Wick: Chapter 4.” Director Chad Stahelski and his team crafted what I believe will go down as one of the all time greats of the genre; a sight to behold.
This film demands to be seen on the big screen, and in a world typically dominated by comic book films and unoriginal blockbusters, it is refreshing to know that films with this level of craft and ingenuity can and will succeed.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” is in theaters now.