Photo by: Brenden Cowan
Most movies are made to be enjoyed sincerely, but some movies fail so spectacularly that they can be enjoyed ironically. John Wick: Chapter Four is that rare breed of movie which can be enjoyed either way.
The film has the titular character, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), searching for a way to settle his debt to the High Table, the de facto rulers of the criminal underworld. They see him as a threat, with Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) in particular interested in putting him down.
Chapter Four deviates quite a bit from the previous films, as John is not the only assassin we’re supposed to root for. There are two others: Caine (Donnie Yen), a blind hitman pulled out of retirement; and Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson), a bounty hunter who decides to help John until his bounty is high enough to hunt him. These two fight quite differently from John and provide a welcome diversity to the movie’s action scenes.
These action scenes are the draw of the movie, and they live up to the standards set by previous John Wick films. The action is split between badass and goofy, with individual scenes often fluctuating between the two. There were a few moments where it falters a little; when John is fighting multiple goons, they tend to stand awkwardly waiting for him to beat them up. But these moments are vastly outnumbered by the scenes with tight, high-octane action.
Conversely, the acting is some of the worst in any major picture. Yet this too is a strength of the John Wick series: between Reeve’s trying-to-be-Batman gravelly growls and Laurence Fishburne’s insane overacting as the Bowery King, the movie takes itself so seriously despite being so ridiculous. These movies are so close to parodying generic action movies, and at times the difference is barely noticeable between the serious scenes and the funny scenes.
The one thing that seemed out of place was the character of Shimazu Akira (Rina Sawayama); she plays a significant role in the beginning of the movie, but then disappears from the rest of it, only popping up again in a post-credits scene. It felt like she should have played a bigger part overall, especially considering the conflict between her and Caine.
Altogether, John Wick: Chapter Four is a great movie; whether you’ll enjoy it sincerely or ironically is up to you.