John Wick: Chapter 4 is an explosive entry in the franchise that always remembers its heart. The thrilling action is matched only by a deeply personal story of a man who is trying to find his way back. This entry is proof that the John Wick franchise has always been able to move forward while never forgetting its roots. Watching the “secret” screening at the 2023 SXSW Film and TV Festival, which was a stroke of marketing genius, was an unforgettable experience that this writer will treasure for a long time.
It’s impossible to talk about these movies without talking about the legend himself, Keanu Reeves. That sweet Canadiana shines through even when he’s shooting bad guys and morally ambiguous guys. It’s endearing that the character considers himself a loving husband above all else, always. This maintains the emotional depth of the character while never compromising the thrilling action. Reeves’ love for this character is clear with every bullet fired and every quiet scowl.
Everything about John Wick as a character is breathtakingly graceful. In the midst of all the violence, Wick himself always maintains a stunning level of control. He never loses himself to the chaos. In fact, even when he’s on the outside of what was once his family, he always stays true to himself. His values are at the core of everything he does, even when he’s committing violence. There is never a question of who we’re supposed to be cheering for in this dark world of rogue assassins. There may no longer be any rules, but John Wick himself remains as consistent as they come.
The question, without spoilers, is where the story can go after John Wick: Chapter 4. John Wick, although a universe unto himself, is one part of a massive global operation. The door is open for further expansion of the Wick-iverse. Donnie Yen, Rina Sawayama and Shamier Anderson are very obvious choices to explore further as characters. Each of their respective characters is so compelling individually, and they each deserve a chance in the spotlight. The story presented here clearly isn’t over. Rather, it’s the beginning of a whole new chapter.
Ultimately though, this entry is all about legacy. What legacy can someone like John Wick leave? This is at the heart of this movie and arguably the entire franchise. The fact that this franchise has been able to continually re-invent this man is a testament to how dynamic this character and universe have always been. This could have so easily been a one-and-done story. Instead, this character can be re-visited again and again, with the hope that there will be more to come.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is nothing less than a tribute to a beloved action hero who will continue to be well-loved long after the credits roll. This movie is proof that there is so much left to explore within this universe. What started as a revenge story about a man looking to make someone pay for killing his dog has turned into the story of a man looking to return to himself. There will always be so much to love about John Wick. There is more of his story to be written.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theatres now.