One word best describes the John Wick franchise: relentless. Chapter 4 is no different with its endlessly thrilling fight scenes, so beautifully choreographed and shot that you forget to breathe at times. Keanu Reeves as Wick is a one-man killing machine with more lives than the luckiest cat in the world. The 58-year-old actor either has boundless youthful energy or crashed in exhaustion on set. John Wick is much like a video game character that keeps getting up and the human version requires peak physical fitness of any actor.

Hence, for reasons of sheer tenacity, stylish production values and action overload, there is still much to be admired by fans, even with a padded run-time of two hours and 49 minutes. Perhaps, the determination to see Wick gain his freedom – or not – from The High Table keeps the momentum spinning, and fuels the race to reach the climax at Paris’s at the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Guaranteed, this will not disappoint. Though it might trigger greater frustration in a search for answers. Filmmaker Chad Stahelski and team certainly keep us mean and keen.

A hunted John Wick with an ever-increasing bounty on his head set by criminal underworld ‘mafia’ The High Table still seeks resolution and a way to hang up his guns once and for all. In his quest, Wick encounters a new and powerful foe in affluent Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), while avoiding others with old scores to settle and relying on old allies such as Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). At the heart of this film is a tale of how deep friendships go when one is put to the test, after Wick meets Caine (Donnie Yen) once again, as well as dealing with betrayal from the last film by Winston (Ian McShane).

Stahelski and Co. set the bar higher and higher with each episode, almost like moving up gaming level each time. The viewer is participating, whether they like it or not. Our insatiable movie appetite for seeing an all-powerful, obscure organisation exposed takes globe-trotting Wick to Paris and delivers the best two action scenes – one giddy one around the Arc de Triomphe, the other farcical one involving 222 steps of Paris’s famous Rue Foyatier that lead to the Basilica. The latter has you giggling with glee and stupor, even if you want to shout out “come on!” in its absurdity at times.

And if this is not enough, we are then rewarded with a standoff before the dawn breaks. Stahelski’s story unapologetically moves from one set-piece to another, as with the other three films, with selective dialogue for impact. His franchise is absolutely a visual one with a capital ‘A’ for action. If you are not a fan of video gaming, this may not be your bag.

Surprisingly, we still feel the human element through a weary Wick with one ‘last’ job to perform. We also get to witness more emotional interaction with Caine, suggesting yet another intriguing backstory ripe for the picking, as these pair of pawns play a faceless evil’s twisted game they want out of. Reeves is still very much appealing as Wick, garnering our support and sympathy – even for a hitman. Yen is superb as visually-impaired Caine with his own Achilles heel at stake. McShane’s teeth dazzle to match the twinkle in gambler Winston’s eye, continuing his and Wick’s curious association further in this.

If there is a criticism of the plot, it is that there are too many fascinating subplots happening here that cannot be brought to neatly to fruition and in a timely fashion, which is a shame. Of course there is this year’s Prime Video TV spin-off, The Continental, but only Ballerina actually promises more of Wick at this stage. Chapter 4‘s ending does suggest ‘resolution’ at the end, though the end credits could suggest otherwise. Hence, if Mr. Reeves really does call time, we might have to be content with spin-offs, however much we want to see more of what makes Wick tick over his deadly career. Also, the introduction of Tracker, played by Shamier Anderson, suggests there is much more to come, surely?

John Wick: Chapter 4 moves the game on, and ramps up the action. But are we running out of gaming levels to explore as this finale stands? The result is an adrenaline injection, with another outstanding Reeves/Wick action-packed performance. However, the cold realisation of a crash hits soon after if the filmmakers decide to call it a day. It just feels unresolved, or is that the action junkie in denial speaking?

John Wick: Chapter 4 is out now in UK cinemas.

John Wick: Chapter 4
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Fierce film reviewer and former BFI staffer, Lisa is partial to any Jack Nicholson flick. She also masquerades as a broadcast journalist, waiting for the day she can use her Criminology & Criminal Justice-trained mind like a female Cracker.
john-wick-chapter-4-reviewAs thrilling and relentless as any action movie before it, John Wick: Chapter 4 is an adrenaline injection with Oscar worthy stunt work, assured direction and Keanu Reeves as magnetic as ever. The best Chapter yet...