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‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ starts with stilted action but finds its feet to end with a bang

One of the ways that the John Wick franchise has managed to become such a success is expanding its rich mythology. Picture: IMDB

One of the ways that the John Wick franchise has managed to become such a success is expanding its rich mythology. Picture: IMDB

Published Mar 28, 2023

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While “John Wick: Chapter 4” more than delivers on the super-violent action that previous instalments have become known for, there are moments when the action does feel too choreographed.

In the latest entry of the successful action franchise, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) 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.

In the fourth film, Reeves is joined again by Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King) as well as action legend Donnie Yen, as Caine, an ex-assassin and an old friend of Wick’s.

Additionally, Ian McShane is back as Winston, owner of the Continental Hotel, while Lance Reddick returns as the concierge, Charon.

Bill Skarsgård also joins the cast as a member of the High Table.

One of the ways that the “John Wick” franchise has managed to become such a success is by expanding its rich mythology within the world with every film, and “John Wick: Chapter 4” is no different.

The film more than delivers on its mythology and is highly engaging.

There isn’t a lot to critique with the films, as they are prime examples of what you see is what you get and they’re very enjoyable for that reason.

That being said, the action on display at the beginning of the film did feel subpar to what was previously delivered in “Chapter 3”. The film attempts longer takes but they only end up highlighting how choreographed the fight sequences are.

There are moments when it feels like the characters are counting the moves they are doing and it lacks a sense of danger. The action scenes feel like characters are saying, “punch and move, punch again and stab, dodge and kick, and then shoot”.

In previous instalments the editing helped in increasing the pace and stakes of the action sequences but, at the beginning of “John Wick: Chapter 4”, it felt stilted.

The movie does pick up and changes the type of scenes we get so the film and its scenes feel varied and not one-note.

While the stilted action scenes at the start were vexing, the film is nevertheless enjoyable with unique and brutal killings.

The other thing that is weirdly out of place when it comes to the “John Wick” films is the depiction of eccentric and arguably feminine men as weak but also, in the reverse, praising hyper-masculine women.

Natalia Tena as Katia. Picture: IMDB

There are characters that feel queer-coded, in control of an army of loyal soldiers. And interestingly enough, they don’t look up to the bosses in fear but rather look up to their bosses with reverence and adoration.

Action movies, especially ones like “John Wick”, are usually never the type of films that one can view through any queer lens or come away with queer interpretations – they are too steeped in the glorification of hyper-masculinity and violence.

They also hardly flesh out the personal lives of characters enough for there to be any worthwhile development of their identity.

However, there are a number of instances when a number of characters are presented as eccentric and/or weird, to the point where the film is arguably queer-coding them.

The film does add to the franchises rich mythology but, that said, they are never that layered enough to unwaveringly make that point – its all aesthetic, no substance.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is a fun and action-packed film that is solid and worth watching. Also a bit long, but if you’re watching the fourth film in this franchise, there is little chance that its runtime would be an issue.

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon at the cinema and worth the price of admission.

Rating: 8/10

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is currently showing at cinemas nationwide.