Yes. It’s LONG. Yeah, I guess I hate this franchise and all that it represents. But WOW. JOHN WICK 4 IS A MUST SEE!!!
Let’s wind the clock back. I HATED the JOHN WICK series. Seriously. Why?
1: Keanu is an adorable, soulful, beautiful human being. Watching him as a killer? No thanks. But I do rate him as an action star. Which is why, hope springs eternal for SPEED 3, wherein Reeves disposes of bombs, on moving vehicles, with better hair cut/shave than he sports in the Wick series.
2: Part 1 kinda worked. Because, logically, it’s about worlds, colliding. A random twat kills dog and steals car of someone who happens to be a widowed assassin, readied to be awakened into battle. The low life thugs are outdone by a better killer. The end? Ok, sequels had to come. Fine. But, as soon as you bring Wick BACK into that world of assassins, he is either no longer special or worse, becomes his own meta-myth, unearned. Both problems plague part 2 and indeed, 3, for that matter? 4. a BIT.
3: James Bond starts the idea of stylistic action and gentleman hero in the field. Indiana Jones expands that possibility with period detail, serial structure and supernatural hints. Die Hard takes the idea of one lone warrior, reluctantly fighting armies off in bid to save wife/day. Ditto, kinda Lethal Weapon? Jason Bourne = Bond, for Guardian readers. Mission:Impossible = Bond, for Americans and Cruise’s ego. Fast/Furious=Mission:Impossible, for chavs. Etc. WHERE IF ANYWHERE, did Wick fit in that? He didn’t. No discernible blue or white collar style. Yeah, loves dead wife and does not want back into killing, yet kills, nonetheless, and violently so. Via pseudo classy, KINGSMAN level world building and faux Hotel chic production design with lots of nasty strobe lighting and foreign filthy baddie of the week aesthetic in places we have seen onscreen, repeatedly. Yawn.
As in, if a kid wrote JOHN WICK 2-4 as a creative writing piece or an upcoming screenwriter pitched it? They’d be laughed out of town. Sorry. But they would.
So, yeah, I went into JOHN WICK 4 with super-duper low expectations. But BOY oh BOY was I blown away by it all. Here’s why you ought see it. Immediately:
- You will laugh yourself silly. This is a VERY funny film. Without being a parody or comedy. It just IS, hilarious!
- Style. Filmed, beautifully, throughout. Lighting, production design, locations, atmospherics. A truly immersive entertainment!
- Keanu = almost SIXTY. But is as full of life, energy, craft, pace, enthusiasm and star power as in the 1990s. Love this kid!
- DONNIE. YEN. Every scene the actor inhabits has a grace, balletic choreography, poise and his character tells stories in very subtle, economical movements.
- SCOTT ADKINS! Dude. You could be the next Bond OR Goldfinger. THAT is how scene stealing and brilliant you are in this film. Big star, in the making. AND he’s from Sutton Coldfield (so is Scarlett Johansson, btw but that’s another secret, story..yep).
- Globe trotting has never felt so logical and linear. Yes, the location spots are obvious and a tad lacking imagination or insight? But they look incredible.
- The quasi-Masonic/Oxford University style ceremonials which were so grating, previously? Now feel logical, organic and part of the character’s arc. Good!
Quibbles? It is long. Credibility is stretched, a LOT. Subtle character moments lack time and space to just breathe, despite the increased run-time. Pennywise as baddie could be played by anyone and is strangely, underwhelming. A massively missed opp? Some of the attempts at surreal style fail, big time. Tonally, it’s a bit all over the shop and the ending is rushed, mawkish, manipulative, derivative and unearned.
That said? WOW! THIS IS WHY WE STILL GO TO THE MOVIES. So go, you must. Immediately. Visceral. Adrenaline fuelled. FUN! RECOMMENDED. Woh!