Last time we saw John Wick (Keanu Reeves), he had fallen from the roof of The Continental Hotel in New York after being shot by Winston Scott (Ian McShane), the hotel’s owner, his body rescued by a member of the Bowery King’s (Lawrence Fishburne) underground army of homeless and taken to his lair where a gravely wounded Wick promptly showed the King his middle finger. John Wick Chapter 4 opens with the booming bone-crunching sound and close-up of a fist hitting hard against a bloodied bandaged pole, as the King brings Wick a brand-new buy discount viagra suit. Wick means business and so does John Wick: Chapter 4, the best in the series since the first movie.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, also the director of the three previous chapters, this new entry delivers everything you expect from an action movie: exciting, well-choreographed and well-edited sequences that leave you at the edge of your seat and make you scream in astonishment and quiet moments for the characters not only to catch their breath but to give audiences the chance to see them in a different light. Stahelski acknowledges the contributions of such action filmmaking masters as Walter Hill and John Woo to the genre by taking their technique to a whole new level. There are even pigeons and not one but two scenes inside a church. John purchase viagra online Woo would be proud. Stahelski even tips his hat to Sergio Leone’s epic spaghetti westerns (Morricone guitar flourishes included) and David Lean.
Wick is still excommunicado from the High Table, the underground, rather ritzy organization of hired assassins ruled by a series of rules and regulations that Wick violated when he shot someone at Winston’s hotel. He announces his return by killing one of the Table’s elders, and the series’ new villain, the Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard), described by Winston as “judge, jury and…”, raises the bounty on Wick’s head. He also has Winston’s hotel condemned and blown up. The Marquis also recruits a reluctant retired blind assassin and old friend of Wick’s, Caine (Donnie Yen), who also happens to be the father of a daughter the Marquis threatens to do harm to if Caine doesn’t comply with his wishes. A third assassin (Shamier Anderson) lurks in the background waiting for the bounty on Wick to keep rising before he takes him down: he’s only identified as Tracker in the credits, his companion a dog who knows how to bounce off walls and leave a deep bite on a male assassin’s nether regions.
The plot and the story are incredibly minimalist: Wick seeks the help of a friend to find himself fighting off a cadre of masked assassins at an ally’s place of business; Wick is sent to retrieve a body part from a murderous criminal who killed his uncle and finds himself fighting a cadre of bodyguards and assassins; he challenges the Marquis to a duel to find himself fending off hundreds of assassins around the Arc de Triomphe and the stairs leading to the Sacre-Coeur in the film’s final exciting hour. And in between, Stahelski and the writing combo of Shay Hatten and Michael Finch give us wonderful moments of introspection, most of them involving Caine and Wick that evoke similar bromantic scenes in Woo’s Hardboiled, The Killer and, the film that started it all, A Better Tomorrow.
By now, John Wick the character must feel like a second skin to Reeves, much like Nemo in The Matrix. He’s elevated his character from the lean, mean killing machine of the first film to one whose personal code, determination, will, focus and sheer strength against overwhelming and exhausting odds is more than admirable. It’s human, even if Wick himself appears viagra for sale in uk to be indestructible. But the real surprise here is Donnie Yen. Not that it should be: he’s brought to his Ip Man series a gravitas, a zen-like approach that feel like a perfect match to his scenes alongside Reeves. But there is something far more moving, full of pathos and even regret to his performance as Caine. There is one scene early on in the film where Yen even projects Chow Yun-Fat levels of coolness as he sips on a bowl of ramen soup, in the shadows of the kitchen of the Osaka Continental, as the men brought in to kill Wick are mowed down by the hotel’s employees to then step into action, using every kitchen table and utensil at hand as a radar and weapon. Finally, as The Marquis, Skarsgard is the perfect Bond villain: elegant, cold, weasely and menacing. He would have kicked Rami Malek’s ass in No Time to Die.
Lance Reddick, who brought so much elegance and mystique to his Charon, the New York Continental’s concierge, passed away suddenly last week. His final, and almost prescient, appearance in this new entry stands as a tribute to the professionalism, and personality, he brought to each of his films. I can no longer imagine a John Wick universe without Charon.
Each long action sequence is choreographed almost like a musical. Stahelski and his crew know that as spectators we want to see every punch land, every bullet hit its mark. Each battle is more often than not shot in long takes and long shots, much like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly demanded their directors to shoot their choreography, so that we can fully appreciate the brutal grace and elasticity of these actors and stuntmen. But it’s that final hour, in the streets of Paris, around the Arc de Triomphe, where Stahelski excels himself, delivering one of the best action sequences shot on those very same streets since John Schlesinger’s Ronin (1998). Already a crucible for pedestrians, Stahelski and his team turn its centrifugal traffic into a complex, hard-to-describe sequence involving cars, bullets, punches and flying bodies. The entire Fast and the Furious series looks like child’s play next to this sequence.
This could very well be the final entry in the John Wick series, although future films in this mythical universe of assassins dressed for the runway will continue with the Ana de Armas-starring Ballerina. If it is, then Wick and Reeves are exiting the stage in grand style.