Ever since his dog was first killed in the first John Wick film, the titular action hero has been on a one man rampage against an array of enemies that come thick and fast, each as brutal as the next. The world has expanded to such a point that I wouldn't blame you if you thought just about anyone could end up being an assassin in these films, and they've all ended up being better for it. The latest instalment, John Wick: Chapter 4, comes with a mammoth runtime and even more kick-ass action than ever before.

With the price on his head ever increasing, legendary hit man John Wick (Keanu Reeves) takes his fight against the High Table global as he seeks out the most powerful players in the underworld, from New York to Paris to Japan to Berlin.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to this film; its runtime. At nearly three hours this is the longest film of the franchise and you do really start to feel it through its middle act. Now, as much as I love these films, it could do with cutting earlier action scenes in both Osaka and Berlin in half to take a good twenty-minutes off because they do start to feel repetitive and drawn out for the sake of it. As always though, the action in the film is meticulously choreographed with perfection being the only level of quality accepted in terms of execution, funny too in fleeting moments. The visuals are also eye-popping, Wick doing battle in neon-drenched nightclubs once again while the lavish production design houses the devilish deeds of the film's villain.

Then comes THAT final act which is a thing of true beauty, and enough to make you totally forget about runtime, acting like a shot of pure adrenalin to the eyeballs to keep you on the edge of your seat. The streets of Paris are the setting as Wick takes on countless enemies while travelling from points A to B. It's where the film delivers totally different action to what the franchise has seen before, Chad Stahelski utilising an overhead shot so wonderfully as Wick clears a floor of an apartment, while a sequence involving a daunting flight of stairs provides the film with a true highlight of the franchise. Seriously, this is the kind of film that should make the Academy take note of stuntwork in films because it's so insanely good, raising the bar for what to expect in action films from now on.

The expansion of this world is such a fascinating aspect of it all, new locations and characters introduced to maintain a fresh feeling in the franchise. This film plays host to a number of memorable characters that act as either friend or foe to John Wick, the writing from Shay Hatten and Michael Finch fitting them all into the chaotic tapestry with ease. It's the idea of consequences here that drives the narrative forward, Wick having to face-up to the fallout of his previous to clear it all up once and for all. Who would have thought that a film about a man getting revenge for the death of his dog would lead to something as layered as this?
Keanu Reeves is so dedicated to delivering such a physically demanding performance as John Wick you can't help but love the guy. We know his limits as an actor but he sells the shit out of the ridiculousness of this franchise, particularly here with how much it all escalates. Reeves joins the likes of Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgard and Scott Adkins in having an absolute blast in the world of assassins, Adkins revelling in a minor role that suits the lack of subtlety possessed by the film to a tee.

Shamier Anderson's Mr Nobody is a great new addition along with his canine companion, obsessively tracking John Wick around the globe and Anderson fitting into the playful nature of it all incredibly well. It's Donnie Yen's Caine who steals the whole damn show though, Yen proving himself to be one of the coolest people on the planet with an almost effortless performance of power and charisma. Watching him in a film like this has instantly made me want to check out all his other films which can only be seen as a positive.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is an extravagant slice of action cinema that helps solidify the franchise's place in history as one of the very best of all time. Yes, chopping half hour off could make it a perfect film but that seems such a minor note when the action is as breathtaking as it is here.

Verdict: ½


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