Keanu Reeves brings one of his most iconic characters back to the big screen for some more gun-fu in the action fest John Wick: Chapter 4 from Lionsgate. Reeves reunites his with former stunt double Chad Stahelski, who is back in the director's chair for the fourth time.
Shay Hateen (co-writer of the third film and the enjoyable Army of Dead and Army of Thieves) pens Chapter 4 with Michael Finch. While longtime screenwriter Derek Kolstad doesn't write the latest entry, he leaves the characters in good hands. When we last left Mr. Wick (Reeves), his longtime associate Winson (Ian McShane) had just betrayed him with a bullet to Wick's body and allegiance to the High Table. Luckily the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and his Tick Tock Man were able to rescue Wick. Realizing it's time to stop the High Table, Wick and the Bowery King decide to join forces.
Chapter 4 picks up with Wick training and preparing to go and settle the score. Wick is still obliged to the High Table, the shadow-world consortium that controls everything. Because of the high crime he committed at the Continental Hotel (a strict breach of High Table law), it's as if he's now under lifetime contract to the devil in the form of Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård)
Naturally, there is a way out of the contract. Wick can challenge the Marquis to a duel to the death, which will take place at sunrise in front of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris. However, to validate the duel, Wick has to make amends with his tribal Russian family. And, of course, they won't make Wick's leaving easy.
Things take another when Wick learns that Marquis sought the services of himself, deadly Caine (Donnie Yen) will. Caine is a blind High Table assassin endowed with lightning limbs. While Caine respects Wick due to their matching skill levels and history, he knows he has a job. This plot point allows Yen to tap into a cooler-than-a-fan vibe. Until the duel, though, the Marquis will try and kill Wick by unleashing a bevy of deadly assains.
A series of fight sequences and gun battles fill the run time, where Keanu gets off to show off his skill until it's time to face the big bad. Naturally, film buffs will see parrels to Sergio Leone's Man with no name trilogy. Reeves' minimal dialogue in the film validates his character's growth since the first film. Similar to the second film, the supporting cast shows up and shows out.
Martial Arts legends Donnie Yen and Scott Adkins need no introduction and deliver the ass-kicking glory you know they are capable of. However most surprising in the film is Shamier Andreson in the role of Mr. Nobody. Anderson eludes swag and can handle a weapon as fast as he can deliver a punch line. Anderson could lead a crop of new African American action stars.
The veterans in the cast, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick, bring their usual A-game, while the always-enjoyable Bill Skarsgård makes for another fantastic villain. Wick's plot armor and the 3 hour run time may deter some viewers, but I was so busy having fun that I'm willing to let those gripes go.
Final Grade: A-
John Wick Chapter 4 blasts into theaters on Thursday, March 23d.