Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Review: "JOHN WICK: Chapter 4" is Too Long, But Keanu is Still Hot

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 42 of 2023 (No. 1931) by Leroy Douresseaux

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)
Running time:  169 minutes (2 hours, 49 minutes)
MPA – R for pervasive strong violence and some language
DIRECTOR:  Chad Stahelski
WRITERS:  Shay Hatten and Michael Finch (based on characters created by Derek Kolstad)
PRODUCERS:  Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Dan Lausten (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Nathan Orloff
COMPOSERS:  Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard


Starring:  Keanu Reeves, Bill Skarsgard, Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson, Ian McShane, Clancy Brown, Marko Zaror, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Aimée Kwan, George Georgiou, and Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick

John Wick: Chapter 4 is a 2023 action and crime-thriller starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Chad Stahelski.  It is a direct sequel to 2019's John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and is the fourth film in the John Wick film series.  Chapter 4 finds John Wick facing off against a new enemy who has powerful alliances around the world and who can turn John's friends into John enemies.

John Wick: Chapter 4 finds the legendary assassin and hitman, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), hiding in the underground lair of the crime lord known as “The Bowery King” (Laurence Fishburne).  Wick prepares to unleash his revenge against the High Table (the entity that rules the assassins guild) and its current “Elder.”  In response, the High Table tasks one of its members, the Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard), to kill John Wick.  The Table gives the Marquis unlimited resources to kill John, and the first thing he does is punish Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of the New York Continental hotel, for failing to kill Wick.

The Marquis puts a twenty-million dollar bounty on John Wick's head, and then, enlists Caine (Donnie Yen), a blind, retired High Table assassin, to kill his Wick, who is an old friend of John's.  Despite all the Marquis' machinations, John Wick has devised a plan to defeat him and to be freed of the High Table.  To do that, John will need help from a number of erstwhile friends and allies and also from one strange new friend or enemy, The Tracker a.k.a. “Mr. Nobody” (Shamier Anderson), and his resourceful dog.

I have been a long time fan of actor Keanu Reeves.  I have enjoyed and even loved Reeves in films like the original Point Break (1991) and in The Matrix film trilogy, beginning with The Matrix (1999).

Thus, I was very interested in seeing the original John Wick (2014), but I didn't see it in a theater.  I was interested in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), but I didn't see those in a theater, either.  I was very interested in seeing John Wick: Chapter 4, but I was put off by its runtime.  So I didn't see it in a movie theater.

Now, I've seen it, and I'm glad I waited.  I would have been pissed to sit in an uncomfortable movie theater seat for almost three hours for the way-too-long John Wick: Chapter 4.  Most of the film's narrative is story padding, and the filmmakers could have easily shaved an hour from this film's runtime without really changing the story.  I will say that Chapter 4 is a beautiful-looking film.  The cinematography, production design, locations, and lighting are museum quality.  Yes, the action and fight scenes are spectacular, but some of them, like the entire “Arc de Triomphe” car chase and fight, went on for far too long – for all their inventiveness.

But I love me some Keanu Reeves, and because he dominates this film, I can enjoy it.  I couldn't stop watching him.  If just about anyone else were the star, I would have stopped watching John Wick: Chapter 4 after an hour.  The supporting cast also helped me enjoy a movie that I basically did not find as enjoyable as the series' previous entries.  I can never get enough of the great Hong Kong actor and martial artist, Donnie Yen, and I'm always down for more Laurence Fishburne.  Shamier Anderson and the dog that is his co-star add some nice new flavors to this series.  Bill Skarsgard is magnetic as the Marquis, and a spoonful of Clancy Brown (as “the Harbinger”) helps the average movie go down.  Also, it was great to see the late Lance Reddick (1962-2023) as Charon one last time.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a fifth John Wick movie down the line, and I won't see it in a theater either – if the runtime is around three hours.  But for John Wick fans, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a must-see for the main reason to see all of them – Keanu Reeves.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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