SXSW 2023: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Review
The following is part of our coverage of SXSW 2023. For more, click here.
I still remember the first time I watched the first John Wick movie. Some friends and I got together and had a movie night and my friend recommended we watched John Wick. I thought it was a stupid movie name with a generic poster and kept my expectations below the ground. Then I actually watched the movie. Ever since, I have been a fervent supporter of the John Wick movies and anything related. One thing the sequels have done is build upon the previous entry and become even bigger in scale. After John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which is probably one of the zaniest action movies of the 2010s, I didn’t think it could get any bigger. Yet somehow John Wick: Chapter 4 surpasses even that and is essentially the Lawrence of Arabia of action movies.
One of the best aspects of the John Wick series is its diverse cast of characters. Everyone has a different visual style and fighting style. John Wick: Chapter 4 is no different. Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson, and Rina Sawayama kick all kinds of ass. Donnie Yen’s character being blind and using his heightened sense of sound to his advantage. Shamier Anderson’s character being resourceful as well as having a canine companion that gets into the action as well. And Rina Sawayama’s character moves quick and is a great sharpshooter. These new additions prevent the action from ever going stale and complementing John Wick’s aggressive hand-to-hand combat and precise aiming.
In this John Wick movie, the influences are unashamedly worn on its sleeve. The most recognizable one being The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Coming from the trifecta of characters, the musical choices, and even a segment later on calls back to the end of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Another segment seemed to be inspired by the game series Hotline Miami. High energy, monstrously insane filmmaking on display. So much so, that I was sitting in confusion wondering how they could accomplish such a thing. Couple these moments with whatever new toy Wick had gotten his hands on, and it just adds a new level of excitement.
This might sound like a basic cinematic comparison (even moreso than comparing John Wick: Chapter 4 to Lawrence of Arabia), but this is Chekhov’s Gun the movie. I couldn’t tell you how many times the movie very clearly placed something in front of you and I went “oh man, what is he going to do with that“. Then Keanu Reeves went and did something I couldn’t even comprehend he would do. There’s even a moment that harkens back to the first movie that made the SXSW audience lose their collective minds. The creative juices flowing through this are off the charts. You can tell there was a lot of love and care that went into this movie.
If there was anything about this movie that I would consider weak it would be the ending. After almost two and a half hours of zany action, the ending is not as ceremonious. It feels like the writers didn’t know how to end this one. They knew how it would end but the actual way it would get there was kind of shoehorned in. But in the face of what this movie gets right, it’s something that can be easily forgiven. In fact, I imagine most people will overlook it because of the sheer adrenaline this movie gives.
This movie is one of the most self-indulgent, messy, and thrilling action movies I’ve seen in a long time. I love it, warts and all. Not even the Paramount Theater’s upper deck seats that aren’t comfortable for a 6’3″ guy like me could bog down this nearly three-hour masterwork. The limp walk I got from pressing my legs against the chair in front of me, and the exhaustion from waiting 2 and a half hours to watch a nearly 3-hour movie was all worth it. A series like John Wick has no reason to feel like this massive crescendo to brilliance. Yet the creators behind the series made every effort to make the series ring loud and proud. John Wick: Chapter 4 is the cinematic gift that keeps on giving. – Jacob Mauceri
John Wick: Chapter 4 will release in theaters on March 24, 2023.
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