Movie Review: John Wick Chapter Four (Stahelski, 2023)

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Movie: John Wick Chapter Four

Production Companies: Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Films, 87Eleven Productions

Director: Chad Stahelski

Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Chad Stahelski

Scriptwriters: Shay Hatton, Michael Finch

Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyaki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick

Release Date: March 24th 2023 (US) 

Running Time: 169 minutes

Certificate: 15


Well it’s only taken a month but better late than never I guess and the film is so good. I don’t know that I’ve ever come out of a film and it had the perfect ending but John Wick Chapter 4 had that effect. Whether it was the acting, cinematography, editing, fight scenes or soundtrack there’s so much to love about John Wick Chapter 4 which feels like the most polished film in the series. Sidenote, are there moments which pull you out of the story? Yes but if you look past those it’s a fantastic film. Also, SPOILER warning if you still haven’t seen it. Now, with the introduction out of the way here is my review of the film.


John Wick Chapter 4 picks up where Parabellum left off with John (Reeves) about to head out to find a way to rid himself of all obligations to the High Table, the governing body of the underworld. The only problem is that because of his excommunicated status the new head of the High Table, The Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Skarsgard), is also sending assassins after him to destroy him and those around him. These assassins include a slight Daredevil knock off, Caine (Yen) and the tracker Mr Nobody (Anderson). Because of this and Winston’s (McShane) warning, John has to fight smart to beat the Marquis.

This means going back to the family who he walked away from before. In the end, John is willing to do anything to finally have his freedom from the High Table which is a not so subtle hint. Anyway, there’s a lot more I could discuss but I’m going to save that for the analysis. So, let’s get into that now as there’s going to be quite a bit…


Keanu Reeves’s Performance in John Wick Chapter Four

To begin the analysis of John Wick Chapter Four, I’m going to start with the elephant in the room: Keanu Reeves as John Wick. And yes it’s still as good a performance as ever. Now, the film often doesn’t see Keanu speak a lot as his expressions and body language do that for him. Take the scene between him and Akira on top of the Osaka Continental Hotel. Here, we see how guilty and conflicted John feels for dragging his friends into his war. This is seen when Akira berates him for dooming their hotel and themselves. This use of facial expressions instead of dialogue really works because it emphasises John’s reputation as an assassin. All of this is while he still shows empathy for those who are fighting to protect him.

Also, another great example of Reeves’s performance is him and Caine fighting up the 300 stairs for their duel. This shows despite their fate both men put that aside to protect the others in their deal. Those people are Caine’s daughter and Winston. Honestly, I could sit here all day and go on about how good Reeves’s performance is because it’s equal parts heart breaking and brilliant. This is especially true with the poetic line about his tombstone. This is darkly wonderful and links back to the first John Wick film. Oh, also what was with the scene of John rolling down 300 stairs after being lightly kicked? I get you want to create adversity for John but that does take you out of the film unfortunately. But it’s nothing against Keanu Reeves’s performance as other than that it’s really good.

Donnie Yen’s Performance in John Wick Chapter Four

Now you’ve probably heard the name Caine enough in this review so does Donnie Yen match Keanu Reeves’s performance? Yes and then some. Take for example, the scene where he and John are fighting in the art gallery. Here, we see how equally matched Caine and John are as they go full Arkham predator mission. Also, these fights show off how good of a martial artist Donnie Yen is which always helps. Now, despite the fact he’s blind John Wick Chapter 4 never uses that as something to make him seem weaker so props.

Also, I love the introduction scene for Caine. This is because it allows the audience to infer the crucial details about Caine prior to the Marquis’s exposition. Furthermore, the conflict Yen shows when he realises he is being sent after John is great as it shows the pair have history without copious exposition which is something the franchise has struggled with in the past. And to round off a great performance from Yen, he has some unexpected dark comedic moments like just before the duel or in the nightclub. So, honestly great performance and how did Disney waste him so badly in the Mulan reboot?

Supporting Cast in John Wick Chapter Four

Next up, I’m going to round off the performances of the supporting cast in John Wick Chapter 4 as there’s so many great performances. The first is Bill Skarsgard as the Marquis. In a similar way to Iosef Tarasov, you spend the entire film waiting for him to get his comeuppance. That is testament enough to Skarsgard’s performance as he morphs from all powerful mafia boss to scared child when he realises he can’t take John out prior to the duel. Also, his French accent is pretty good as a sidenote.

Anyway, I’m now going to shout out another franchise newcomer: Scott Adkins’s Killa. Not only is his German accent on point but he’s also a joy to watch as the intimidating mob boss John is sent to kill in order to get back in his family. Mostly, it’s just the sinister overtones when he obviously rigged the card game. Or maybe it’s the fight scene he has with Wick in a packed nightclub. And don’t worry I’m going to touch on later. Good god, there’s too many good performances and I haven’t even touched on Clancy Brown or Ian McShane….

Cinematography in John Wick Chapter Four

This analysis will most likely lead into the next paragraph, but my god John Wick Chapter Four’s cinematography is great at points. Take for example, the landscape shot before the duel with the sun just barely visible over a shadowy Paris. Look at the duel itself which is done using wide shots and shrinks every time John and Caine take another 10 paces in. This has the effect of the walls starting to close in on John, Caine, The Marquis and Winston as neither man has suffered a fatal blow yet. While I’ll touch on this shot later, the birdseye/overhead shot of John and Mr Nobody fighting henchmen in an abandoned flat is gorgeous as it gives the audience a great idea of where they both are in relation to each other.

I mean just like so many elements in the film, the cinematography just feels polished to a sheen. Just take the shot of John standing in front of a red neon billboard next to a peach tree. This cinematography creates a wonderful juxtaposition as the peach tree symbolises long life while the red light symbolises violence and danger which John brings with him. It’s the little details which really make the cinematography so good.

Fight Scenes in John Wick Chapter Four

Building on the cinematography, I’m going to discuss the film’s fight scenes and why they are just so good. Take for example, the nightclub fight scene between John and Killa. Here, the camera is incredibly mobile but also mimics John’s eyes as he tracks Killa down. What follows is a very tightly choreographed fight scene with a closer camera and movement to mimic the energy of the fight scene. Also, the fact it could be a callback to John Wick One’s nightclub fight scene is even better. Now, another great part of John Wick Chapter Four’s fight scenes is the spatial relations between each character and how it helps the audience keep track.

In addition, another great fight scene is the aforementioned fight scene in the abandoned house. Because of the birdseye shot used, it allows the audience to become like the Marquis and the High Table: looking down desperately hoping somebody will fell John and make him mortal. Honestly, this isn’t even touching the fight scenes in the Osaka Continental between John and Caine but honestly rest assured the fight scenes are brilliant as usual.

Soundtrack in John Wick Chapter Four 

And finally to conclude my analysis of John Wick Chapter Four, I’m going to discuss the film’s soundtrack. And sidenote, Tyler Bates and Joel J Richard once again a smashing job. This is evident in the sheer energy the soundtrack brings to the film. That is extremely important as the soundtrack mimics the film’s pace: 100% and all out constantly. For one example, look at the Osaka Continental scenes where the soundtrack provides a high amount of energy and pace to the scenes, keeping the audience glued to screens.

Or, take the nightclub fight scene where it feels like the audience are in the nightclub with John such is the sheer frantic and powerful energy the soundtrack has. Seriously, the scene where Killa launches John off a balcony and the soundtrack bass drops before picking back up as enemies converge is glorious. Or, even the climactic duel which is scored at points like a Clint Eastwood or Sergio Leone Western. This just racks up the tension as Caine and John keep walking towards each other. Honestly, it stands as one of the franchise’s best soundtracks which is really saying something. 


To summarise John Wick Chapter Four, this is a phenomenally quick, intense film with great performances which does the best job to provide a beautiful ending for both John and the fans. All of this is achieved with key parts, like cinematography and fight scenes, polished to a mirror sheen with a few moments which take you out of the experience. There’s really not much more I can do other than telling you to watch the film because it’s that good.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Severe Violence and Gore, Moderate Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Moderate Frightening and Intense Scenes.

Recommendation: Yes