Review: Globetrotting “John Wick” installment a mixed bag

“John Wick: Chapter 4” opened in theaters to roaring appraisal from both fans and critics alike. Following the success of the previous installments in the franchise, the latest seeks to expand the world of the assassin John Wick he crisscrosses the globe to take on the High Table, a group of crime lords that run the underworld’s dangerous organizations.

Keanu Reeves reprises the role of the titular assassin of John Wick. His performance was very split. On one hand you have his work with the stunts and action which are phenomenal. On the other hand, Reeves’ speech is lackluster. His tone and speech patterns are inconsistent and choppy. This isn’t anything new for Reeves, but this movie almost felt like he was learning to speak for the first time. Aside from the speech, he as well as the rest of the actors do a great job keeping the audience engaged.

Each set piece in a different international city felt unique and showed a great display of cinematography and lighting from the production team. The movie’s depiction of Japan in particular was beautiful, with its rooftop cherry trees and futuristic buildings with bold red and blue lights that paint the characters and create artistic works that impress. Along with Japan was Berlin, the setting of a fun poker scene with the stakes of life and death, and Paris, where three separate massive fights happened.

The film is overall visually stunning. The cinemetography by Dan Laustsen exhibits some clever and interesting shots at points. In one notable shot which sees Wick running through an abandoned building, the camera flies up to an overhead shot. The ceilings were removed so it feels like you are watching a top down shooter similar to older video games like the original “Metal Gear Solid” or “Hotline Miami.”

One thing the John Wick franchise continues to pull off well is its fight choreography. Some fights seem long and drawn out but for the most part each fight felt fresh and creative. Particularly thrilling are the Paris fights, which are set up in the form of a gauntlet that John Wick has to get through. One fight that stook out in a bad way had John fight two guys at time, which made the pacing feel weird – as if the bad guys just waited around until their partners lost. It felt a bit off.

Along with that, the ending seemed extremely rushed, which feels surprising in a film that is two and a half hours long. The directors went into painstaking detail for everything before the last 15 or so minutes. After that, the film felt rushed an unfinished. I left the theater saying, “Oh… Well that ended fast.”

This film relies on the audience seeing the previous installments to understand the story. The previous characters get no introduction for newcomers and can feel a bit out of right field with some of the plot points and story beats. If you have seen the others, this is one of the better John Wick films, if not the best, but if you haven’t I would recommend watching the first three before seeing the new one.