Director Chad Stahelski
Screenplay Shay Hatten, Michael Finch
Starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddic, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Ian McShane

The fourth entry in the book of John Wick is perhaps the most operatic ballet ever put to film.

The story begins with Wick (Reeves) finishing his rehab under New York City as a guest of the Bowery King (Fishburne). We see enough to know he’s recovered from being shot and dropped off the roof of Winston Scott’s Continental Hotel. The King delivers his new suit (bullet proof, of course) and next we see John riding through the desert on a fine Arabian horse to find the Elder once more, seeking absolution. Of course he does not recieve this, and we can guess what happens to the Elder.

At this, the wheels are put in motion and The High Table takes action against Winston (McShane) and his loyal concierge Charon (Reddick, R.I.P.). Wick is once more beset with a price on his head. This time by the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Skarsgård) who has a name that makes one want to punch him, sight unseen. To help in this, De Gramont enlists the help of Caine (Yen) one of Wick’s oldest friends and an exceptionally gifted High Table assassin. This is not done willingly, to be sure.

The balance between goofy “Rules of the Table” exposition and perfectly silohuetted action works better than ever. The cast has the ability to run out George Lucas style dialogue as if it all makes perfect sense. More impressive is the choreography of the extended fight scenes. There are so many bodies and bullets flying across the screen through at least three quarters of the film, it’s a never ending orgy of mayhem. Stahelski is in a class of his own by now. No other director outside of Asia has exhibited such a mastery of mixing effects with obviously real stuntwork.

There is never going to be another Keanu Reeves. No one can deliver a line like he does. He takes a punch and delivers them as if it hurts like hell. He keeps forging ahead, to the point where if he had no one coming at him he might lose his balance and fall forward. It’s truly a gift when a director knows how to utilize his skillset.

Anderson is a refreshing addition to the series. His mercenary Tracker / Mr. Nobody character loves his puppy as much as he loves the idea of raising the bounty he’d recieve for bringing in Wick. Anyone who paid any attention at all to how John Wick interacts with dogs will know how this will turn out.

Yen is a gift, per usual. As amazing as he was playing blind in Rogue One, he goes 10x as complex here. There is a genuine feeling of connection throughout his various interactions in this film. He’s excellent playing the reluctant warrior, menacing and sympathetic.

It’s plain that from the first, John Wick films have never pretended to be anything more than what we all expect. They have not encountered mission creep. The films push the envelope of action with each film, knowing exactly how much dialogue its viewer wants to see. Too bad this series will not go on forever.

(***** out of *****)

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