Where did we leave off after Parabellum? Does anyone remember?
To recap, John Wick, an unstoppable killing machine, gets shot off a building by his trusted friend Winston played by Ian McShane one of my favorite actors.
Wick of course manages to survive the fall and the gunshot, where I guess he has been training underground, protected by the homeless assassins ruled by King, played by Laurence Fishburne. Side note, it’s great seeing these two back together again after The Matrix.
John Wick still has the same mission as the last film, to clear his bounty and be a free man. To do that, he travels to the desert to kill an Elder, the guy I believe who cut his finger off in the last film.
He tells John that killing him is pointless, it won’t change anything, and killers will still be sent after him to collect his head.
But John Wick being John Wick, kills him anyway.
By doing that, it causes the Marquis, played by Bill Skarsgård, to retaliate. The Marquis is a member of the High Table, another new element added to this ever-expanding world of assassins.
The Marquis wants to make an example out of John Wick, destroying anything he comes in contact with.
The first on the chopping block, the New York hotel run by Winston. He has an hour to evacuate and to see the Marquis himself where he too will be judged.
In a sad and shocking move, the Marquis chooses to kill his concierge instead, played by the late Lance Reddick, who recently just passed. Another fantastic character actor who has been in just about everything from The Wire to Bosch, both two of my favorite shows.
He also did a ton of voice work, the guy was just in everything, and he will be missed. Recently, I don’t know why, but I’ve been watching a clip of him on the Eric Andre Show doing his “I Wish I Was Levar Burton” routine.
After Winston is made an example of, we meet Caine, a blind man with a cane. Get it?! He’s actually a skilled assassin, and like John Wick he got out of the killing game a long time ago to start a family. But thanks to Wick, he is pulled in once again, after the Marquis threatens his daughter’s life.
His mission is simple. Kill John Wick.
We then travel to Japan where John meets with Shimazu, another head of a hotel for assassins. These two are old friends. I’m not sure why he’s at the hotel, I feel like he must have a reason, other than just needing a place to lay low, but who knows.
John Wick is toxic now, fearing that this division of hotels will get the same fate as the one in New York.
The one preaching this warning is Shimazu’s daughter, Akira who acts as his concierge. And as she is warning her father of the dangers of harboring John Wick, assassins from the High Table show up, in search for Wick.
Leading this band of assholes is Chidi, don’t worry, you’ll grow to hate this guy and find yourself in anticipation for when someone finally kills this dickhead.
We are also introduced to another new character who just calls himself Mr. Nobody. We learn absolutely nothing about that guy other than maybe he used to be a vet and he has a dog that he is endlessly loyal to.
He also keeps a journal on him with a ton of information about characters this guy probably shouldn’t have knowledge of. He somehow has this almost superhuman ability to track people.
This character is pretty underdeveloped, and I’m not really sure why he’s in this other than keeping up with the whole dog motif.
He’s just kind of a random character that comes out of nowhere and is never fully explained. Just another assassin after the price on Wick’s head but is only interested if it reaches a certain amount. To me, like most characters introduced who survive in the end, are set up like characters for future spin offs.
That feeling is pertinent throughout most of the film, this overwhelming sense that things are wrapping up for John Wick and here are a bunch of other characters to fill his place. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really have any interest in that.
This Ballerina spinoff just seems like something we’ve already seen already. I don’t really care. The only thing that might have been interesting would be the series based around the New York hotel, run by Lance Reddick. But with him gone, I no long desire to see anything relating to the hotel world of these assassins.
Speaking of hotels, the one in Japan is evacuated as Shimazu gathers his men to fight off the High Table goons. Like Wick, they wear bulletproof suits, which can I say how cool of an idea that is?
I just watched a YouTube video where they tried to make an actual suit like John Wick wears that is completely bulletproof.
And it actually worked. It was a bit bulky of course, but it managed to stop a barrage of bullets, unlike the bulletproof vest they put it up against.
The High Table goons didn’t come alone, as they also brought an army and Caine, who like Wick is a one-man army.
Caine and Shimazu have a history, as all three of them, including John Wick are old friends, but Caine will do anything to keep his daughter safe, that means killing Wick and Shimazu if he needs to.
I believe this kicks off the first giant action sequence. And by giant, I mean goes on for maybe 30 minutes. It could be longer. I mean, there’s a reason this film is nearly 3 hours long and it ain’t for the plot.
Just to be safe, I’ll say 40-minute action sequence, and much like the last film that highlighted the use of knives, this time we see John Wick swing around a pair of nunchucks. Balls are slapped, faces are beaten in, it’s hands down the most fun action sequence. Though there are even better ones to come.
Wick beats his way through these goons before having his face off against Caine. They’re pretty evenly matched, I’d hate to see what Caine would be like if he could actually see.
Mr. Nobody, no not Bob Odenkirk, although it would be cool to connect those films. Mr. Nobody ends the fight, going after Caine.
Wick takes off and Caine follows Shimazu where they have their duel. Shimazu loses and his daughter Akira vows to avenge his death.
John goes back to New York to see Winston after he hears what the Marquis did. Not sure why, but for some reason John Wick has no idea what the High Table is. Or maybe he didn’t know what the pin was he took off a dead High Table goon meant.
Either way, Winston advises him to challenge the Marquis to a duel. It’s an old practice that everyone must follow, to keep high members from gaining too much power.
The only issue with that is, only someone with a crime family, which John no longer has thanks to events in the last film, can challenge a member of the High Table.
So that means John has to travel back to Berlin to get back in the good graces of his… I had to look it up, as I forgot who she was. But his adoptive sister Katia?
The only way she’ll let him back in is if he kills another High Table member Killa, played by Scott Adkins in a fat suit. The problem with lean athletic guys in fat suits is, they never move like real fat guys.
The way he moves around in this film is not the way a man pushing well past 300 pounds would move.
But with that all said, it’s still a really fun performance from him, as I do enjoy Scott Adkins a lot. Some of his films are bad, but he does have a few worth mentioning like Avengement and Accident Man or the better sequel Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday.
As of right now, all of them are streaming on Hulu. Worth checking out.
Okay, back to John Wick killing folks.
John Wick is brought in to Killa’s club where he finds him waiting for him along with Caine and Mr. Nobody.
And once again another giant action sequence kicks off. This one I’d say it slightly the weakest of the bunch, only because it was hard to not notice the dancing crowd does not react whatsoever to the people dying beside them.
There’s this saying that I always remembered from the film Chopper. The infamous aussie criminal they made a movie about. During the commentary that Chopper himself graciously did for the film, he states in a club, it doesn’t matter how loud the music is, a gun is always louder.
I don’t know why, but that has always stuck with me. I bring this up because how the people react to folks getting gunned down or chopped and stabbed, was so bizarre.
They sometimes acknowledge it, but then the next scene we see they’re back to dancing again.
It was so goddamn strange it brought me out of the action. The other distracting thing, which I already mentioned was how Scott Adkins moved in his fat suit.
Long story short, John Wick finishes Killa off and is reinstated into the cult… I mean, crime family. Let’s face it though, these “families” and assassins are pretty much in a cult.
John nominates Winston as his second, meaning he’ll bring the Marquis the challenge for the duel. But nominating him means if John dies, his second does as well.
This part slightly confused me, as the Marquis doesn’t have a second. I thought his was Caine, as he later nominates him to fight in his stead. But I guess not?
John meets with the Marquis in Paris where they hash out the rules, pistols at sunrise.
That means John has a whole night he needs to survive if he is to make it to the challenger spot.
The last half of this film is just one giant action sequence, so I guess I’ll break it down into locations.
The Marquis puts a 40-million-dollar bounty on John Wick, leading to the whole city of Paris to come after him.
First through the streets of Paris, which leads to a building, now this section was maybe my favorite, as Wick arms himself with these automatic shotguns with phosphorous rounds, that set everything on fire it shoots.
We follow John Wick top view style, like in that game Hotline Miami, it’s the most uniquely shot and creative use of camera work.
In this section Wick finally faces off with Mr. Nobody, but when he saves his dog, Nobody kind of forgets the bounty.
The last section takes us to the stairs. This was also a fan favorite in the theater I saw it in, as everyone collectively at the same time went oh man, when John Wick is tossed down all these steps, ending up back where he started.
With some help from Caine and Nobody, Wick finally makes it to the duel just as the sun rises.
The duel goes a little something like this, each person is given a pistol, they take their required steps and are then given a single bullet.
When ordered to fire, they shoot each other. The last one standing is the winner.
Like I mentioned, the Marquis uses Caine to take his place in the duel and as John looks defeated after several turns, he takes over to get in the final blow. But not realizing Wick didn’t fire his last round, putting a bullet in his head.
So we are getting into spoilers, but I think it needs to be talked about because the ending left a sour taste in my mouth.
The running theme this chapter has been death. John Wick can never be free of this world, not because this world of assassins won’t let him, but it’s just in his nature. Death is his only salvation.
They also make a point out of John Wick not really having anything worth living for. Unlike Caine who has his daughter.
I guess their point in the end was he still had his friends, he wanted to see Caine freed of his obligations and reunited with his daughter. And Winston gets his hotel back.
So that all leads to John Wick dying in the end. He goes out just like Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049.
The issue for me is, I felt cheated. So did just about everyone else in the theater too. Maybe that had to do with the fact I heard they had plans for a 5th film.
Maybe I felt cheated because the whole film John Wick was fighting for his freedom and survival and to just kill him off so easily was such a letdown.
Now of course since these films keep making even more money than the last one, clearly, they have plans to bring John Wick back. Not before they probably ruin things with shitty spinoffs no one cares about.
But at least now I can finally get that 4K boxset collection that is sure to come. I’ve been holding out for years to own these movies.
I think my rating is pretty clear, John Wick Chapter 4 is a SEE IT!
I had issues with the runtime, even though it never felt 3 hours to me. I had issues with the ending, though they did slightly leave things open for future sequels.
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