Is John Wick a masterpiece in dialogue-driven storytelling? Absolutely not, but it is still a great movie. I love action movies that know they are action movies. It’s what makes Enter the Dragon, Gladiator, The Bourne Series, and The Matrix so freaking good. They know exactly what the people want from an action movie. Don’t get me wrong, there are great action movies with amazing plots and stories., but we all go into these movies expecting to see Keanu Reeves slo-mo dodge a volley of bullets or see Gerard Butler kick Xerxes’ messenger down a hole. But what makes John Wick Chapter 4 and a series so good?
Movie of the Month: John Wick Chapter 4
There seems to be an ongoing struggle in Hollywood where they can’t seem to transition video games into movies. Most of them flop horribly. Nothing is worse than seeing the words “we are trying to be our own thing separate from the games’ when it comes to video game movies. (I’m looking at you, Paramount+. You ruined Halo.) And before you ask, no, John Wick is not based on a video game. (Although I think it would make a great one. Give me the gunplay from Army of Two and the hand-to-hand combat from Sifu.) So why did I bring up video game movies?
John Wick Chapter 4 feels like a love letter to video games. John Wick is almost comically unkillable, but you still buy into it. The fact that he doesn’t take a bullet to the head once throughout the series is oddly believable. The constant firing from cover while moving from spot to spot feels reminiscent of Gears of War. In the John Wick universe, there is a main hub for the other characters (assassins) like John. They all congregate, have special currency, have missions, and are all seemingly superhuman. John Wick Chapter 4 might not be based on video games, but it sure is inspired by them.
Movie people love to talk about cinematography. They love Tarantino’s movies and how things look in those movies. (I’m not the biggest Tarantino fan, with a few exceptions.) On the other hand, John Wick is beautiful. Holy crap, some of those shorts are amazing. The sword fight between Caine and Shimazu at the Tokyo Continental Hotel was amazing. It felt like an old-school Bruce Lee movie. It had the tension of a western cowboy showdown but the fluidity of a samurai fight. If I have any complaints from this movie, this fight was not long enough.
What took my breath away was the shot of Paris right before John and Caine’s duel outside the church. The sunrise peeking through an overcast sky with an almost perfect view of the whole of Paris. I wonder how many like-minded idiots are going to reenact the duel in that very spot if they ever visit Paris? There are so many scenes from this movie that I could go on and on about, but these were my two favorites, with the sushi table on the roof of the Tokyo hotel being a close third.
Jason Bourne held the title of “most creative weapons” in action movies but then came John Wick. He’s used a horse, a motorcycle helmet, a book, a belt, and a pencil to finish off some enemies. And while there aren’t that many crazy weapons in this movie, we got three amazing and creative fighting styles out of it.
- Nunchucks. While technically not creative, we never really see Nunchucks anymore. When I think of nunchucks, I think of two people, Michelangelo and Bruce Lee. But no scene in any movie or show has ever shown me how effective nunchucks are in the right hands. We’ve all seen how effective a broomstick is in the hands of Jackie Chan, but I always thought Nunchucks were one of those martial arts weapons that were more for learning control and discipline than for actual fighting. What do I know?
- Using motion sensors for blind fighting. Caine is such a cool character idea. He is old friends with Shimazu and John. He gave up his eyes to the High Table for his daughter’s safety. Regardless of this disadvantage, he adapted and learned a new way to fight. Using motion sensors that make noise, he easily put those underlings down. It was cool to see. I would have loved to be in the room when they figured this out.
- Canine Combat. Tracker (Nobody) is a cool character. Police and army dogs seem to be a popular topics for feel-good movies, but I never knew how terrifying a dog could be in a fight. I also love that Wick saved the dog, and Tracker saved Wick in return later in the movie. It highlights that there is still honor and some weird code of conduct between these assassins.
Final Thoughts (Spoilers)
There isn’t much dialogue in this movie, but they use it so well. The titled character spoke less than 400 words. The Marquis had the most dialogue, and it showed how arrogant and reckless he was. Winston probably had the second most, which makes sense because he is a sly con man who always looks out for his best interest. What little dialogue we did get from Wick was impactful. He foreshadowed his death by wanting a “loving husband” on his gravestone.
John Wick’s death didn’t feel cheap. It felt earned. It was almost a reward. All he wanted was to be free from the Table. He initially earned freedom to be with his late wife, but I don’t believe they would have left him alone for long. Look at how they treated Caine. The Table would have used Wick’s wife as leverage to make him work again. No, the only freedom John Wick would ever get is through death. Either the death of everyone sitting at the Table or his death. He got his revenge on the Marquis; he set Caine free from the Table (although Caine is stuck in the cycle of revenge still after killing Shimazu in front of his daughter, Akira.) So I’m not mad that John Wick is dead. I’d rather this than the writers “Fast and Furious”-ing this series.
I am ready for all the spin-offs that are coming. Show me more of this creative and weird underworld of crime. Please and thank you!
5 out 5 throwing stars