John Wick is a fictional character portrayed by Keanu Reeves in a series of action movies of the same name. The first John Wick film was released in 2014, followed by two sequels: John Wick: Chapter 2 in 2017 and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum in 2019. A fourth installment is currently in development.
John Wick is a former assassin who retired from his violent past to live a quiet life with his wife. However, after his wife’s death, he is dragged back into the world of assassins and mercenaries when a group of criminals break into his home, steal his car, and kill his dog. With nothing left to lose, John sets out on a mission of vengeance against the people who wronged him, taking on an army of heavily armed thugs and assassins.
The John Wick movies are known for their stylish action sequences, intense violence, and unique world-building, which depict a secret society of assassins with their code of honor and rules. The character of John Wick has become iconic in popular culture, known for his stoic demeanor, lethal skills, and signature black suit and tie.
The fourth installment of “John Wick” convincingly portrays the charismatic, reluctantly unretired title hitman as a true underdog while delivering the expected ballet of bullets and fiesta of weaponry.
And this hound can hunt, as the expression goes.
Keanu Reeves returns to the “Wick” franchise with director Chad Stahelski for one of the finest “Wick” pictures in the dependably great action genre. In terrific action scenes, the hard-luck antihero battles fellow assassins and ambitious power players all around the world, and “Chapter 4” (12 out of four; rated R; in theaters Friday) also reveals more of Wick’s backstory, making us root for him a little more, especially when the chips are down.
The latest installment of “John Wick” doesn’t bother to catch you up. Still, it’s pretty simple: Wick was persuaded to return to the hitman business after his puppy was killed (“John Wick”), killed a rival on the “consecrated” grounds of the New York Continental Hotel (“Chapter 2”), which was against the law, and had a large bounty placed on his head (“Chapter 3”).
When “Chapter 4” opens, John has given up on hiding and has decided to confront the mysterious High Table of international crime lords. He murders one of their seniors, putting him on the radar of the Marquis (Bill Skarsgard). The enigmatic Tracker (Shamier Anderson), one of Wick’s oldest friends, and blind martial arts expert Caine are just a few of the murderers that this young and vengeful French diplomat sends after Wick after raising the price and receiving Wick’s address (Donnie Yen).
Wick, seeing a duel as his only way out of the Table, challenges the Marquis to a duel in Paris, though just getting to the showdown is a herculean effort. Fortunately, our main character is outfitted in a kevlar suit, has a limitless supply of ammunition, a fondness for headshots (for real, no one is more obsessed with lethal follow-through), and a great grip on nunchucks.
Even for a fan of action movies, “Chapter 4″‘s 169 minutes seem a little too long: A “Wick” movie is never described as being chatty, yet there are gaps in the middle of the action-packed onslaughts. The next great action scene doesn’t require a lot of waiting. This one is jam-packed with action, including a festival of samurai swords in a Japanese hotel, a waterfall-filled brawl in a German nightclub, a particularly cool fight seen from a cool floorplan view where Wick shoots people with fire bullets, and a particularly good and electrifying traffic jam at the Arc de Triomphe.
Just like the historic brawls, the casting is spot on. The late Lance Reddick, who improved everything he was in, offers advice once more as Winston’s right-hand concierge Charon. Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane, who play the owner of the NYC Continental and the Bowery King, respectively, both bring a comedic edge as returning Wick allies.
As for the newcomers, Yen gives Caine a cool cockiness, Scott Adkins is hilarious as the chubby but still lethal former assassin Killa, and Skarsgrd makes the nasty and repulsive Marquis into a diamond of an adversary.
Naturally, though, it’s Reeves who gives these films their energy, giving Wick his trademark worldly charm while also adding a certain depth. There is a hitman “Christmas Carol” motif at work as Wick is compelled to look back on his past as a result of Caine’s reappearance, sees almost a present-day version of himself with Tracker (complete with a canine partner), and gets a glimpse of his future as Harbinger, the elderly man in charge of Wick’s challenge to the Marquis, played by Clancy Brown.
The fourth chapter of “John Wick” provides plenty of action-packed entertainment as well as some excellent food for thought.
The first John Wick movie was directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who were both veteran stunt performers and coordinators before transitioning to directing. Their experience in the stunt industry is reflected in the intense action and fight scenes in the movies, which are often praised for their realism and creativity.
The success of the first John Wick movie led to two sequels, both of which were commercial and critical successes. John Wick: Chapter 2 expanded upon the world of the first movie, introducing new characters and organizations, and setting up the events of the third movie. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum raised the stakes even higher, with John on the run from the High Table and facing off against even more deadly adversaries.
Aside from the main movie trilogy, the John Wick franchise has also spawned other media, such as comic books and video games. The comic book series, titled John Wick: Book of Rules, explores the backstory of the Continental Hotel and its proprietor, Winston (played by Ian McShane in the movies). The video game, titled John Wick Hex, is a tactical strategy game that allows players to plan out and execute John’s actions in a stylized, turn-based format.
The popularity of the John Wick franchise has also led to an increased interest in gun-fu, a term used to describe the combination of gunplay and martial arts seen in the movies. The style has become a popular trope in action movies and video games, with other media drawing inspiration from the John Wick movies.
Overall, the John Wick franchise has had a significant impact on the action genre, with its unique world-building, style, and characters. The franchise has become a modern classic, and fans are eagerly anticipating the release of the fourth movie in the series.