‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ is a love letter to the action genre

Ryan Ranc, Senior Life & Arts Reporter

“John Wick: Chapter 4” follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves) as the bounty over his head rapidly increases. Taking his fight with the High Table global, the legendary hitman pushes himself to the limits to achieve his freedom.

With the John Wick franchise known for its action sequences, its fourth installment makes no exceptions. Every fighting sequence appears expertly choreographed and engaging, exploring a range of fighting styles — from nunchucks, to bullets and karate. No fighting sequences get old, and every single one feels unique in its own way. Audiences will find themselves cringing at the brutality but also cheering for every victory Wick finds himself earning. Having the highest stakes yet, “John Wick: Chapter 4” feels like the ultimate love letter to action movies.

Cinematographer Dan Laustsen (“Shape of Water” and “Nightmare Alley”) deserves an immense amount of credit for making the fight choreography translate so beautifully to the big screen. Laustsen developed the visuals with such fluidity, allowing audiences to take in every detail of the complex and detailed arrangement. Outside of its stellar action sequences, conversational scenes look stunning as well. In particular, despite its desolate setting, the opening scene feels full of life thanks to expertly crafted shot composition, building up to a big crowd-pleasing moment to end the cold open. Character silhouettes set against colorful lighting serve as yet another striking visual motif. All in all, Laustsen makes arguably the most stunning visual entry into the franchise to date.

The biggest downfall of “John Wick: Chapter 4” shows itself in its runtime and story. Most John Wick films never obsess too much about their story, but it feels like the fourth film really wants to be and try more things than its predecessors. Even with its attempt, it falls flat due to bare-bones world building and convoluted story structure. By the third act, the story really picks up speed, but it does not save audiences from trudging through the film’s initial acts. If not for the insane action sequences, this movie would have nothing to offer. All of the story’s misfires culminate into making a movie that just slightly overstays its welcome with its nearly three-hour runtime. That being said, such a misfire cannot take away from the objective impressiveness and massive amounts of the entertainment value of the rest of its offerings.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is a blast. Despite its underwhelming story and dragged-out runtime, its beautiful cinematography and perfected action sequences make this entry into the Wick series a phenomenal achievement. The movie cements itself as one of the best action movies of its time due in part to its ingenuity. Audiences will truly only appreciate this movie if seen in a crowded theater surrounded by fans thrilled to witness the action in all of its cinematic glory.

3 ½ bullets out of 5