From all reports (including asking Alex Winters at a film festival), Keanu Reeves is the nicest guy in the world. His first name means “cool breeze.” He blew into our lives as the quiet goalie in Youngblood and the goofy time traveler in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He played Prince Siddartha who achieves enlightenment and transforms into the Buddha in Little Buddha. Little did we know that he could evolve into the efficient killing machine known as John Wick. The first movie gave us Wick as a retired hitman for a crime syndicate. While dealing with his wife’s death from cancer, Wick has to get back in the killing business when Russian mobsters whack the dog she left him. After two movies where he dealt with various mobsters, John Wick Chapter 4 has him taking on The High Table in order to get out of the game.
John Wick lays low with the Bowery King (The Matrix‘s Lawrence Fishburne) and prepares for a battle against the High Table after the events of the third movie. His plan starts with Wick heading to Morrocco where his negotiation with The Elder to clear his record and retire turns sour quick. The members of the High Table are not happy about John’s actions. Head Table member the Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont (It’s Bill Skarsgård) explains to Winston (Deadwood‘s Ian McShane), the manager of the New York Continental Hotel and Charon (Fringe‘s Lance Reddick), the concierge that they hold them responsible for not taking care of Wick. The Marquis institutes harsh changes to the Manhattan hotel. In order to track down Wick, the blind assassin Caine (Iron Monkey‘s Donnie Yen) is brought out of retirement. He doesn’t want the job, but he can’t stay no. If Wick lives, Caine’s daughter dies. He accepts. Also on Wick’s trail is Mr. Tracker (Trailer Park Boys‘ Shamier Anderson) and his cute dog. The thing with Mr. Tracker is that he doesn’t want to snuff Wick too soon since the multi-million-dollar bounty keeps growing and Tracker is aiming for a certain price. Wick seeks refuge in Osaka Japan at their Continental Hotel run by Shimazu Koji (The Wolverine‘s Hiroyuki Sanada) and his daughter Shimazu Akira (singer Rina Sawayama). According to the code, Continental Hotels are supposed to be out of bounds for assassination business. The High Table pulls the franchise tag on the Osaka hotel and sends in dozens of hitmen to take out John Wick. The code days are over. John Wick is only going to survive by his wits and ammo. He might be retiring the old-fashioned way: by being killed.
John Wick Chapter 4 is awe inspiring action. You can tell where director Chad Stahelski drew inspiration for various scenes. There’s a famous edit from Lawrence of Arabia and even the DJ element from The Warriors snuck in between the action. The movie is nearly three hours long and doesn’t feel it. It feels like the script was 20 pages with the line “and then a fight breaks out” on every quarter of the page We’re not too bogged down in dialogue scenes. Even if you don’t quite understand the structure of the High Table, it doesn’t matter. All you want to see if how Keanu Reeves is going to kick everybody’s asses on the stylized and extremely beautifully lit sets. You’ll want to upgrade to the 4K UHD to get absorbed into the mayhem. This is like John Woo at his Hong Kong prime as bullets, swords, arrows and num-chuks go flying across the screen. This is much better than the action scenes Keanu took part in all three Matrix movies. Sit back and let the buttkicking fill your HDTV screen.
The most shocking part of the film involves Lance Reddick (The Wire & Bosch). He’d played Charon, the concierge at the New York Continental in the previous films. Days before the American premiere of the movie, Reddick suddenly died. His character in John Wick Chapter 4 also meets an unexpected death. His passing wasn’t supposed to be treated as heartbreaking since it’s just part of being in this dangerous world of assassins. But it’s impossible not to feel sad when his character stops breathings. The film is dedicated to Reddick at the end. We’re not too bogged down in dialogues. Even if you don’t quite understand the structure of the High Table, it doesn’t matter because all you want to see if how Keanu Reeves is going to kick everybody’s asses on the stylized and extremely beautifully lit sets. This is like John Woo at his Hong Kong prime as bullets, swords, arrows and num-chuks go flying across the screen.
There are several home video combinations available for John Wick Chapter 4. The 4K UHD boxset also includes a Blu-ray and Digital copy. There’s also the Blu-ray boxset that comes with a DVD and Digital copy. The 4K UHD is the way to go since the scenes were made to be seen the highest resolution. You don’t want to miss a moment of Keanu Reeves turning into a deadly weapon in a bulletproof suit.
Video is 2.39:1 anamorphic. Watching the film in 4K UHD brings out the details like you’re in a theater. The night scenes and the colors in the various scenes pop. The Audio is Dolby TrueHD 7.1. There’s also an English descriptive track for the seeing impaired. French and Spanish dub tracks are proved in 5.1 Dolby. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.
Blu-ray has all the features as the 4K UHD Disc.
Chad and Keanu: Through Wick and Thin (5:45) brings up how Chad Stahelski was Keanu Reeves’s stunt double on The Matrix. All these years later, they’ve formed a creative partnership over John Wick movies. There’s talk of the trust they have built up over the years and four films.
Train Like a Killer (5:55) goes into how Keanu Reeves begins training nearly four months before shooting. This time he had to learn how to use num-chuks for the big fight scene influenced by Bruce Lee. Weapons Master Robert “Rock” Galotti is astonished at how Keanu knows how to fight with guns.
Making A Killing (6:25) gets into the massive sets used in the movie and how the lend themselves to the action. They talk about the various Continental Hotels.
The Psychology of a Killer (4:32) lets Chad Stahelski get into the complicated code of ethics adopted by John Wick. How does this code play with other fellow killers.
The Blind Leading the Fight (9:18) deals with Caine, a blind killer played by Donnie Yen. Caine is a bit of a reference to The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi. Donnie Yen gets into how he prepared for the character and altering his approach to action as a blind hitman.
Suit Up / Shoot Up (5:41) spends time with Costume Designer Paco Delgado. We see how he creates suits worn by the assassins of John Wick that feature bulletproof lining.
Packing a Punch (4:41) shows off the huge crew need to make the actions scenes work. We get a sense of how they mix the physical stunts with special effects. There’s a breakdown of the waterfall nightclub scene.
One Killer Shot (3:09) peeks into the creation of the scene where John Wick has to fight through an apartment complex. They use a cable cam to get above the action.
Killing at the Speed of Traffic (10:10) gets into John Wick’s car battle at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Keanu practiced this scene on a track outside of France. When I was a kid, I tried to cross this circle until the cop screamed at me in French to take the nearby tunnel.
A Shot in the Dark (5:43) goes into the night shooting and working extremely dark in the fourth installment. There’s talk of what they had to do to the scenic locations for nocturnal work.
In Honor of the Dead (5:23) has Chad Stahelski reveal the cinematic influences in the scenes. He’s borrowing elements from David Lean to John Woo. There’s even a Warriors reference with the D.J.
Theatrical Trailer 1 (1:13) has John Wick coming back with new and old characters.
Theatrical Trailer 2 (2:37) gives a greater sense of the story and taste of the action.
The Continental – First Look (3:10) is a sneak peek at the three-part special streaming on Peacock soon.
Lionsgate presents John Wick Chapter 4. Directed by Chad Stahelski. Screenplay by Shay Hatten & Michael Finch. Starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins & Ian McShane. Running Time: 169 minutes. Rating: Rated R. Release Date: June 13, 2023.