March 29, 2023 – This could be the last of the four John Wick movies, but maybe not. You know how that goes with successful action series. Movie studios hate to turn off the box office tap when the money is still rolling in, and it certainly is still rolling in.
This fourth movie in the series looks like the others, in that it is basically a series of elaborate fights featuring Keanu Reeves' John Wick character. The fights include such noted martial arts actors as Donnie Yen (the “Ip Man” movies) Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai) and Scott Adkins (Ip Man 4: The Finale). Adkins wears a fat suit, and lots of makeup, in this movie. I did not recognize him.
In addition to Reeves, this film brings back some other series regulars, including the late Lance Reddick, who died just after this film was released. Reddick plays Charon, the concierge of a hotel run by criminals in New York, which has played a central role in the John Wick films. The manager of that same hotel, Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane, reprising his role) has a key role in this film, along with another returning character, “the Bowery King,” played by veteran actor Laurence Fishburne (of the Matrix movies).
John Wick, seeking to free himself from a powerful criminal organization, kills a powerful member of the organization, which, in turn orders the death of John Wick. Charged with this task is the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (played by Bill Skarsgård of “Barbarian”) who has vast resources at his disposal.
Wick, of course, is hard to kill, but he manages to get just about all of his friends and associates killed. One of his old friends, Shimazu Koji (played by Hiroyuki Sanada) runs a hotel in Osaka for the criminal organization. Shimazu allows Wick to hide out at his hotel, resulting in an assault by an army of thugs led by the blind fighter Caine (Donnie Yen). Caine is an old friend of Wick, but is forced to hunt him by the Marquis Vincent de Gramont, who threatens to kill Caine's daughter if he refuses.
The fight in Osaka is epic, with a whole army of assassins wearing full suits of body armor. Caine, Wick, Shimazu and his daughter, Akira (Rina Sawayama) are among the combatants. This fight leads to more acts of vengeance (one of which is featured in a post-credits scene). Not only has the Marquis enlisted Caine as his assassin, he has also put a multi million dollar bounty on Wick's head. The bounty attracts a whole army of killers, including the mysterious tracker Mister Nobody (Shamier Anderson of “Race”).
Wick manages to escape, of course, and he also learns the secret he has long sought, how to escape from the clutches of this powerful criminal organization. This involves a duel to the death, but Wick has to survive a whole army of bounty hunters in order to get to the appointed duel at dawn in Paris. This involves a truly comical sequence in which Wick repeated falls down many concrete steps without serious injury, while also being unharmed by a hail of bullets.
Mr. Nobody is interested in the bounty, but doesn't think the amount is high enough, considering the risk. He kills his competitors while negotiating with the Marquis for a higher bounty. There are a couple of good reasons Mr. Nobody doesn't like the Marquis.
This movie, which features scenes filmed in France, Japan, Jordan and Germany, brings the story full circle, back to where it started in the first movie. The ending is kind of poetic, and it certainly seems like a final note, but you never know. The indestructible John Wick might just pop back up again in another movie down the road.
While this movie does feature some spectacular fights, it really doesn't have much else to recommend it. There is not much in the way of character development, and the story is kind of loopy. But you know what you are going to get with this kind of film, and it does deliver what it promises. This film rates a B.
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