John Wick (Keanu Reeves) sought revenge in the first film, his beloved Mustang in the second and a way out of the killing game (again) in the third. And in Chapter 4? This time it’s all-out war, as the wannabe ex-assassin is dropped slap-bang in the middle of the epic showdown he’s long been preparing for. Wick wants to find peace once and for all. And what do we want? Wince-inducing thrills, spills, kills… Chapter 4 duly delivers.
The action picks up more or less right after the close of the last film, just as all the sequels do, with Wick heading back out to the desert to pay another visit to The Elder (formerly Said Taghmaoui, now George Georgiou). When Wick’s actions compound his status as a wanted (dead) man, the bounty on his head climbs. Again. And again. John looks for a way to kill the contract that’s been put out on his life and finally cast off the rules of shady underworld organisation the High Table. A globetrotting fight for survival with increasing stakes offers him the glimmer of a chance to break free. But the odds are not in his favour.
If you were agog at what Wick can do with a pencil (JW2),and a book (JW3), wait until you see what he can do with a playing card, never mind a set of nunchucks. Fight sequences, action set pieces, neon: every aspect for Chapter 4 is dialled up to 11111 (deep-cut reference alert!). And if there’s one area in which returning director Chad Stahelski’s film actually over-delivers, it’s the characters. The bad guys of previous instalments pale in comparison to Donnie Yen’s sharp-suited blind assassin Caine - a fun, charming, super-cool badass we root for almost as much as Wick.
As the film’s main antagonist - High Table grand fromage the Marquis de Gramont - Bill Sarsgård gives nasty vibes and throws fits that are seriously extra. An unrecognisable Scott Adkins is simply delicious as beefy, metal-mouthed asthmatic Berliner, Killa, and there’s a stand-out turn from Shamier Anderson as the empathetic Mr Nobody (whose canine sidekick is nameless, naturally).
Meanwhile, Rina Sawayama’s Akira nets one of the movie’s best kills on a staircase, presaging Wick’s impressive Paris-set steps-fight later on – which, no kidding, will floor you. With its near-three-hour run time, this is the longest entry in the series, which will undoubtedly prove a sticking point for some. But at its best, this Wick burns oh-so-brightly.
For everything else the year has to offer, see our roundup to all the upcoming major movie release dates.