John Wick: Chapter 4 - A Spoiler Review

The fourth chapter of the John Wick film series has come out, and it continues the trend that each film in the series is better than the last. The ending is slightly ambiguous if John Wick is still alive, but I think they have finished John's story (for now). I think the world of John Wick can be explored in spinoffs and prequels some of which we will see in the next year (The Ballerina movie and The Continental series). John Wick 4 manages to in very small, but significant ways set up both of those projects while also teasing a few more. Each of these films manages to outdo the previous films in terms of action, but with each film the world gets more fleshed out and intriguing. John Wick 4 is a long film at 2 hours and 49 minutes, but the action and the story keep you focused for the entire time. While it is early in the year, I do feel safe in saying that I think John Wick will crack my top ten list of films for 2023. The mayhem witnessed in the film cause physical reactions from the audience as they watch it, which is one of the strengths of the film. The fourth chapter is incredibly over the top, but it does so in a way that does not feel out of place. There is not an action scene in the film that feels too much, but there were moments that caused me to look away, groan, and cheer. 

John Wick easily has the biggest budget of any of the films as the action moves between New York, Paris, Berlin, Japan and the desert. The cast has grown as we are introduced to two more influential parts of John Wicks past in Caine (played by Donnie Yen) and Shimazu (played by Hiroyuki Sanada). We also got three other characters who I feel we will see again in Akira (played by Rina Sawayama), Tracker (played by Shamier Anderson) and Katia (played by Natalia Tena). Akira stood out the most because of the personal nature of her story, but Tracker is an interesting character shrouded in mystery. Tracker was obviously self-interested in keeping John Wick alive to drive up the reward, but when he had the chance to kill John, he instead chose to save him. Tracker is a character who could be in for some tough times after he let John live; I could see the table taking out their frustrations on him. While John's story might be over, his mission to take down the table is not done. I thought in this film we would finally see the table members, and that is why I think there are many more stories to tell. John Wick 4 feels epic, and if it is truly the end of John's story than what a way for the story to end. 


The film opens with the Bowery King (played by Laurence Fishburne) sending John Wick (played by Keanu Reeves) to Morocco to kill the elder of the High Table. John Wick succeeds, but the High Table responds by sending the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (played by Bill Skarsgard) to restore order. The Marquis makes a visit to New York to see Winston (played by Ian McShane), the Marquis destroys the New York continental, makes Winston excommunicado and kills Charon (played by Lance Reddick). The Marquis then recruits a retired and now blind assassin named Caine (played by Donnie Yen) to kill John Wick, Caine's daughter will be killed if he fails. We meet the manager of the Japanese Continental hotel Shimazu (played by Hiroyuki Sanada), Shimazu then tries to convince his daughter (and concierge) Akira (played by Rina Sawayama) that nothing is wrong despite the fall of the New York Continental. Shimazu goes to a private part of the hotel where we see John Wick is there. Akira arrives to tell her father that Caine is waiting to see him, and she is shocked and angry to see her father hiding John Wick. Shimazu asks Akira to wait with John Wick while he goes to deal with Caine, but Caine will not leave without John Wick. Shimazu says that John is not there, and he asks Caine and the Marquis' men to leave the hotel. 

The goons of the High Table find John and Akira who have to fight their way free, while Shimazu is also forced to fight off henchmen. The trio meet up to fight off the remaining goons, and they head their separate ways with Shimazu wanting John to be able to get away. John tries to escape but Caine is waiting for him, though John gets help assistance from a mysterious figure named Tracker (played by Shamier Anderson). Shimazu and Akira are both wounded, and Caine catches up with them again asking for where John is going next. Caine will let them leave if they tell him, but Shimazu refuses to dishonor himself so Caine and Shimazu fight with samurai swords. Caine defeats Shimazu who dies in Akira's arms, but he dies with honor. John goes back to New York, and he meets with Winston who tells John that to get free of the High Table John can enable an old rule of dueling. John will need to get back with his family the Ruska Roma, and then formally challenge the Marquis to a duel. Tracker meets with the Marquis who ups the reward on John Wick, but he forces Tracker to pull his hand free from a knife to prove his loyalty.

John heads to Berlin to try and earn his way back into the Ruska Roma, and they ask that he kill the man who killed the head of the family. John heads to a club to meet Killa Harkan (played by Scott Adkins in a fat suit). Caine, and Tracker are also at the club, but Killa forces all of them to play a game of poker with the winner getting the prize. Killa cheats ensuring he wins, and he orders his men to kill the three so he can claim the reward on Wick. Wick uses one of the cards to slash Harkan's throat and in the ensuing chaos Harkan escapes chased by Wick. Harkan fights back against Wick, but in the end, he is killed, and Wick takes his gold teeth as proof of death. Wick gets back into the Ruska Roma, and he then challenges the Marquis to a duel. The Marquis, Caine, Wick and Winston meet with the Harbinger (played by Clancy Brown) to discuss the terms and details of the duel. John Wick wants freedom and Winston wants his status returned along with the manager role of the New York Continental. They have agreed to the details via a system of both the Marquis and Wick flipping over cards with the highest number getting the choice. Marquis picks sunrise, and Wick selects pistols, but the Marquis says his second (Caine) will duel in his place. 

The Marquis unfolds his last chance to kill Wick before the duel by upping the reward which causes the assassins of Paris to go after Wick. Wick manages to get to the duel by sunrise, but he gets assistance from Caine and Tracker. Caine has honor so he can't let John die like that, and Tracker owes John after John saved Tracker's dog. The duel starts with Caine and John taking 30 paces away from each other turning and firing, but they both miss. They each move 10 paces closer, and this time they are both hit, John in the shoulder and Caine in the stomach. They move another 10 paces closer, but this time Caine only fires hitting John in the stomach. The Marquis steps in demanding the kill, so he faces John ready to kill when Winston points out that John never fired his last shot. John shoots the Marquis in the head killing him. Caine's daughter will no longer be used as leverage against him, Winston gets his old job back and John is free from the High Table. John sits on some steps before dying, and we see Winston and the Bowery kings at John's grave bidding farewell. In a post-credits scene, we see Caine going to visit his daughter, but we he is being approached by Akira who has a knife as the film ends.


The possible final chapter of John Wick's story has been completed in a way that leaves the door open for more films in this universe. The execution of these films has been phenomenal, and each film felt bigger, better executed and better is a testament to Keanu Reeves, Chad Stahelski and Derek Kolstad. The story has always been simple, but the story has not been the reason why fans enjoy the series. The action has always been the most important part of the series, and chapter four continues to show that if films push the action up a notch than fans will go to the theater. The directors of the first film came from the stunt world so they brought a style to the action that a lot of films lack. Keanu Reeves has also been a huge key to the success of the series because he has made sure he was trained and physically ready to do a lot of his own stunt work which shows up in the final product. If Reeves is truly done with the franchise than it is sad, but it is also understandable as he done four films while also doing all the work to be prepared to do a majority of the stunts. The world of John Wick is still very open to exploration, and Chapter Four opens the door for new characters to be explored like Caine, Akira and Tracker.

The action in Chapter Four might have been the best scenes I have ever seen, and it is mind blowing to think of all of the work that went into filming those scenes. The action in the Japan Continental was incredible, and then to realize that was only the beginning was anxiety inducing. This film is long, but the pace created by all of the action makes the film feel like a normal length film. I mentioned earlier that the story is simple, but the fourth film probably has weakest story of the series as it was a little confusing with all of the moving parts. I was so sure the film was going to be about John Wick taking out the High Table that when it became about the duel, I felt disappointed. Part of my denial after the film was over about John Wick dying was that it felt like the story of the series was heading to John Wick taking out the High Table. I think because we are four films into the series that I expected that we would see the High Table by this point. I know I am a little hung up on the High Table, but they are the only thing that seems to be a consistent villain in the series. I don't want my negativity to take away from how good the movie was, because it was great. 

I am going to give John Wick: Chapter Four a 9/10 as it is one of the best action films ever made. The only reason it is not a perfect score is because the plot is very simple, and not that important. The action scenes throughout the film were all fantastic, and they were all edge of your seat. The chaotic race to the duel was one of the best action parts of any film, each scene leading to the duel culminating in the battle on the steps. The duel while not an action scene was shot perfectly, and the setting for the duel was one the most beautiful visuals for that finale. At some point I would love to see a prequel that explores John Wick's backstory before he retired. A trilogy of films that tell his origin story leading into John Wick: Chapter One would be something I am very interested in seeing, but that would take an actor who looks similar to and has the physical tools to play the Baba Yaga. John Wick: Chapter Four is the kind of action film that makes everything else feel inferior with the exception of the Mission Impossible films. While I am less interested in seeing the Continental series, I will wait to see the reviews before I decide to watch it. The Ballerina seems more to my liking considering it is starring Ana de Armas, and it will feature an appearance by Keanu Reeves. The series introduced a bunch of interesting characters, and the world of John Wick is exciting, so I hope we continue to see more projects in this world. 

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