John Wick: Chapter 4
Onto the next release of the weekend and the weekend biggie is here! With that I finally finished watching the new English film John Wick : Chapter 4 which is perhaps the last film of the John Wick franchise. Growing up over the years, I do have some vivid memories of the John Wick franchise. For starters, I had watched John Wick 2 before its first part, only to later go back and watch Part One for some references that I had missed out on. One of the biggest takeaways for me was its elaborate and high concept action sequences that really were a lot of fun to watch onscreen.
The thing with action entertainers is that they would generally fail if they do not have a strong emotional core to it. You would need the audience to be invested in the core emotions of the drama, almost like a foreplay to eventually enjoy the action tagged to it. So action, which may seem to be a key ingredient is instead a byproduct only and that is something that the John Wick franchise has mastered over the years. To top it, the films aren’t standalone sequels and hence the films have already a audience which is invested in the journey of the protagonist. So after an exhilarating Part Three, I really was keen on how the story would continue further. And I went into the film with a glowing word of mouth that came with massive expectations. So then does John Wick : Chapter 4 manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
John Wick : Chapter 4 is (probably) the final chapter of the John Wick franchise and it picks up from the same point where Part Three had ended and it traces John’s journey against the High Society. The story here is pretty interesting and it does invest you brilliantly simply from its world building perspective. There was an interesting comparison on how the DC and Marvel universes are generating cash cows instead of truly focusing on the world building. This is that one franchise which has stayed true to its core idea and not swayed from it right from the time the first John Wick was out 9 years ago!
The idea of expanding the universe is fine but it shouldn’t be at the expense of just turning up each day. Instead, the idea should be to improve it in every aspect. And once you do watch Chapter 4, you will know exactly what I am talking about. This is easily the longest John Wick film standing at almost 171 minutes. But it makes every minute count particularly in the action set pieces which are on high doses of steroids, making you want for more at the end of it!
The drama does open with a bang with John Wick taking down the last of The Elders, the only group above the High Society. The first 30 odd minutes does have a leisurely buildup and intentionally done to allow the viewers to sink into the world of John Wick once again. But once you cross that and when the makers decide to introduce the first of the many action set pieces, you are left gasping for breath. The action set pieces are lengthy but they never get tiresome or repetitive. And the reason for that is that the viewers are thoroughly engaged in the journey of the protagonist with the writers raising the stakes to an improbable level to hold the attention of the audience and in turn make them root for him!
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing but more importantly entertaining. There is a lot of gore and blood splashes which would be a wet dream for any action junkie. It just goes to show how important it is to innovate in the genre while keeping things simple. You needn’t have flying people or bouncing people or evrn flying cars to be classified as a ‘good action entertainer’. Even a gun or for that matter any weapon would do and still with the innovative moves you can churn out an action entertainer which would be remembered for a long time! And John Wick : Chapter 4 is exactly that!
As the drama progresses, there are nice little diversions before getting back on track with the main plot. But in the process, there are atleast 3-4 solid action sequences that did leave me breathless. And that final hour does take the cake! Featuring almost 40 minutes of non-stop action with every weapon possible and every character(many nameless) after the protagonist did make for a memorable theatrical experience like no other. Even the final duel did meet me cheers with the capacity crowd. This is exactly how you nail an action entertainer! The screenplay did exactly that and more! The end credit scene does signify an expansion of the universe which shall only get bigger and better!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and they make for a good impact by maintaining the flow of the drama. The BGM is pulsating and absolutely smashing. It did elevate so many sequences single handedly! The cinematography and colour grading are top notch. There is a neo-noir tone throughout the film barring the final act wherein a sunrise is depicted signifying a new beginning. The editing is sharp and crisp with minimal jump cuts which would otherwise have diluted the impact of the action scenes. Needless to say, the action scenes are the best that I have seen in a while now. Director Chad Stahelski definitely does understand the pulse of the audience and he serves them exactly that. The focus clearly was on the action set pieces and the gripping narrative just complimented the proceedings brilliantly. The direction does deserve distinction marks here!
The performances are excellent here. There was a sense of nostalgia too watching some of the older characters of the franchise, one last time together. Lawrence Fishburne as Bowery King makes his presence felt as does Hiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu. Shamier Anderson as Mr. Nobody is terrific as is Ian Mcshane as Whinston. Bill Skarsgard as de Gramont makes for a perfect nemesis to the protagonist. Donnie Yen as Caine is outstanding and he is smashing in combat sequences despite his character having a ‘disability’. I am really interested in knowing how he will carry on the legacy of the universe. Keanu Reeves as John Wick is excellent and literally puts his blood and sweat in this role that packs a punch. He is phenomenal in combat sequences as owns the stage in every frame!
John Wick : Chapter 4 is probably the best action film in years that has set the bar so high that others will only play catch up from here(atleast for the time being). This is high class action on high doses of steroids pro max! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Highly Recommended!