As the longest John Wick movie, John Wick: Chapter 4 brings the saga’s kill count to a new high.
John Wick (2014) teased a complex underworld of assassins, and the John Wick franchise dove into the vast lore that keeps getting richer.
The wait for John Wick: Chapter 4 was a prolonged affair. The film was first slated for a May 2021 release before being delayed by an entire year, then delayed again until March 2023.
But was it worth the wait? Let’s find out.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is the worst movie in the franchise. John Wick 4 has its moments, but it is not worth the hype.
Now don’t get me wrong. The movie is suitable for mindless and over-the-top action scenes, which is what you would expect from John Wick. But Stahelski seems to have relied way too much on the action scenes. But other than that? Not good.
The tonal inconsistencies, over-the-top action, Elder’s meaningless death, inability of the story to progress, and its similarities with Chapter 3 show the lack of effort and make Chapter 4 the worst one in the franchise.
Let’s get into more details.
1. The First Fight scene
John Wick 4’s major problem is its treatment of the action sequences, especially the first one. The action sequence is exciting at first glance since a sense of smoothness and clarity is present.
A good action sequence must have suspense and danger, which is missing here. The main reason is that Tokyo’s first fight scene needs to be shorter. The fight sequence is too long to hold the people’s attention or seem entertaining.
There are never any stakes, and watching the film’s well-choreographed martial arts is initially fun, but it gets stale swiftly.
2. John didn’t go to war with High Table
John Wick: Chapter 3 promises that John is going all out in Chapter 4 against the High Table. But I never really saw it happening. The Marquis, a powerful emissary for the High Table based in Paris, is in charge of taking out John Wick, whose actions have made him excommunicado from the global criminal organization.
With a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head, Wick challenges the Marquis to a duel to the death at the Trocadero, where he gains his freedom if he wins.
The Marquis taps his second, Wick’s blind but dangerous friend Caine (Donnie Yen), to do his dirty work, and Wick and Caine take turns wounding each other until Caine’s last shot in Wick’s gut puts him on the ground.
But this doesn’t count as a war as aggressive as John Wick promised against the High Table. It was him vs. Caine and not the High Table. This was a big letdown for people expecting John to switch into his assassin mode against the High Table.
3. Was Elder’s Death worth it?
The first noted death in John Wick 4 is of The Elder, who is shot dead in the head by the protagonist, John Wick himself.
As some fans may remember, John first travels to meet The Elder in “Chapter 3.” John Wick 4 saw Keanu Reeves’ character trying to settle his matters with the High Table relatively peacefully one final time before waging war.
John Wick 4 recast the Elder by establishing that the previous holder of the title was killed somewhere between the third and fourth movie.
The Elder’s demise was not remarkable compared to all the major John Wick 4 deaths that would yet happen. The entire Chapter 3 built up of Elder was deemed useless. He was supposed to be the “so hard to reach” and “only he can choose to meet you, guy.”
John Wick just kills him for no real purpose in Chapter 4. It’s a very underwhelming scene and does nothing to help the storyline. The death feels contradictory and could have aligned more with the ongoing storyline.
4. The Manager of Osaka Continental Deserved Better
The John Wick franchise does have an incredible cast. Aside from Keanu Reeves, Chapter 4 stars Donni Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Riddick, and Hiroyuki Sanada. And almost all of them are wasted!
None of them do anything wrong exactly, but most are given nothing to do and carry out broadly undemanding parts, particularly Hiroyuki Sanada. Sanada plays the manager of Osaka Continental.
After refusing to give Chidi and his men access to the hotel resources, Chidi deconsecrates the Osaka Continental and launches a deadly assault on the building.
A blind swordsman with unmatched skills, Caine critically hurts Koji shortly after their duel begins. Despite Caine’s urge to surrender, Koji refuses to relent, forcing Caine to kill him.
Here’s the issue now. We all know Hiroyuki Sanada died for no significant reason that contributes to the story. He is too terrific an actor to be inserted into the storyline just to be killed this quickly.
Some people might find this debatable, however. This could be my anime-fan talking, who wanted more Japanese assassins and Yakuza.
5. The Story fails to progress
OK, no one goes to see the John Wick films for the writing, but the scripts could be more robust for the most part. Chapter 4 lacks the charm, warmth, soul, or genuine emotional connection compared to the previous three installments.
The world-building is excellent, but take that out of the equation, and it will take much work to call the movie well-written. The biggest issue is that the story doesn’t move forward.
All the action might make you think it does, but it doesn’t. The first movie introduced us to the world of assassins and got us hooked. The second one successfully expanded the world and broadened the horizon, telling us about markers and The High Table.
The third movie expanded it further, where John Wick makes his point to the High Table, who have sent the Adjudicator on their behalf to assassinate John Wick. The movie served as the character development of Elder and informed us more about Ruska Roma. Ruska Roma is a crime organization that understands The High Table.
Chapter 4 miserably fails to contribute to that. We barely know anything about the assassin lore that was not already known to us by Chapter 3. People expected Chapter 4 to show more of The High Table, but it didn’t and failed to meet the expectations.
The tonal inconsistencies make John Wick: Chapter 4 the worst one in the franchise.
6. John Wick: Chapter 4- A Remake of John Wick 3?
My biggest issue with the movie is that the plot is the same as in Chapter 3. The film consistently follows a similar plotline as that of Chapter 3 in the following ways:
- It’s John Wick vs. The High Table in Chapter 4, to the point that there is a bounty on his head. We know that the fight between the Continental and the High Table’s elite strike team was the main plotline in Chapter 3. The Continental and John won the initial skirmish, but both sides knew this fight was just the beginning.
However, much to our disappointment, we are precisely in the same place as in Chapter 3.
- Winston seems in trouble due to John’s actions in Chapter 4. Well, doesn’t that sound familiar? It sure does.
Chapter 3 saw Winston do what he had to do to make it seem like he’d turned on John. Although all he was trying to do was ensure that John Wick walked away from the situation with his life. And we are back to square one in Chapter 4.
- Marquis, again a high-ranking member, is dispatched to dispose of John just like the Arbitrator in John Wick 3.
- John Wick is incomplete without dogs, and we all know that. John Wick: Chapter 3 has John’s replacement pooch, who doesn’t have a name and stays out of harm’s way under the protection of The Continental’s concierge, Charon.
We met two more pups when John escapers to Morocco to track down Sofia.
Chapter 4 again features a black character, Tracker, with a god who aids in fighting resulting in incredible fight scenes.
Having successfully overcome his primary antagonist in Chidi, Tracker honors his unspoken debt to John and allows him to confront The Marquis.
The stakes of the duel are just as high for Tracker as they are for John and Winston, as The Marquis made it clear that Tracker’s debt to the High Table would either be paid with John’s life or his.
- We have Caine in Chapter 4 to replace Zero in John Wick: Chapter 3.
In Chapter 3, Zero is hired by the High Table to deal with insubordination in the third movie. He’s pretty much the “Cassian” in this entry, meaning he’s more than a match for John.
Eventually, John became a better assassin than Zero after their second battle.
What’s incredibly fascinating about Caine is that he’s the only foe John is never shown to defeat head-on. Other characters take out lesser enemies like Chidi throughout the films. Caine is the first character apart from John to be presented as unbeatable.
And just like Zero, Caine lowkey respects John Wick.
- John Wick goes to Ruska Rome for help regarding the High Table business. We have already seen this happen in Chapter 3. The only thing contradictory is the freedom he can travel anywhere he wants in Chapter 4.
Much of “Chapter 3” is devoted to his struggle to get from New York City to Casablanca. This requires him to secure passage from the Ruska Roma, which involves them tearing his ticket for a one-way trip.
- At the end of Chapter 3, Winston shoots John Wick, making us think he might have died. But obviously, he was alive, and it was part of the plan. Chapter 4 follows the same track as we see John Wick die.
Though John can dethrone The Marquis, the wounds he receives from Caine are too great. As The Elder said in the film’s opening moments before his demise, death is the only way John Wick can ever find peace.
As the sun rises over Paris, John thinks about his wife as he finally finds what he’s been searching for.
7. About John Wick : Chapter 4
John Wick 4 is an American neo-noir action thriller film and the fourth installment in the John Wick franchise. The franchise is created by Derek Kolstad and stars Keanu Reeves in the role of a retired legendary hitman John Wick.
John Wick must avoid run-ins with The High Table and survive long enough to complete his mission, along with the help of The Bowery King, who was left for dead by The High Table and now is helping John Wick take them down.
John Wick 4 released on March 24, 2023.