John Wick: The Man, The Myth, The Masterful Assassin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The John Wick franchise has created a modern action hero. A throne for which few have paraded in the more than 100 years of the Hollywood industry. In the era of superheroes, television series, and social networks, the grim character in the black suit, with an unfocused look and superhuman skill in handling weapons, has managed to prevail and challenge any form of entertainment that comes out to the public. This John Wick is not a character engendered from the codes of the Instagram and TikTok generation, he is a protagonist conceived almost anachronistically. It could well have been a John Wayne, a Stallone, an Arnold, a Van Damme, or a Bruce Willis. His feat is only compared to what Tom Cruise does these days, where a suit and cape weigh more than anything else.

In John Wick: Chapter 4 we have a new adventure where the famous anti-hero will have to wipe out half the world to achieve his goal. It doesn’t matter what their stories tell, this was very clear from their first installment. That Wick was born the moment he decided to avenge the death of his dog; hence the fury has been the fuel that moves him. The purpose is a simple excuse to make each sequence more impressive than the last and the dangers increasingly unlikely to be overcome. Adrenaline replaces the dialogues and the frenetic pace of the fights, shootings, and chases become the counterweight to the hollow situations.

In front of the cameras, the universe of John Wick revolves around Keanu Reeves, the veteran actor has elevated his figure to establish himself in the Olympus of action heroes with characters such as Johnny Utah in Point Break (1991), Jack Traven in Speed (1994) and his Neo from The Matrix saga. Behind the scenes, this new action movie saga has cemented its foundations in Chad Stahelski. Originally a stunt double, Stahelski has developed his career in that area and that is how he met his current star Keanu Reeves when he was his double in the movie The Matrix (1999). The four John Wick films are his only work as a director and in them, we can clearly see the influence of his film roots.

Wick, John Wick

Although the character of Wick seems to be taken from the cinema of the 80s and 90s, the staging and the language used by its creators live according to the codes of the new generations. The camera does not rest, and the audience has very little time to think or breathe between one sequence and another. An air of a video game takes over some moments and Wick seems like a remote-controlled character.

In John Wick: Chapter 4 our protagonist discovers an opportunity to be able to disassociate himself once and for all from those hands that control him on the so-called High Table. The Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) stands in Wick’s way and emerges as the major antagonist in this new adventure. One of the strong points of this installment is how the character of the villain is developed to give more value to what the protagonist is after. For almost three hours the bodies fall faster than we can count, that duration becomes John Wick: Chapter 4’s weakest point. A more compact story would have done a better service.

What is worth the box office of John Wick: Chapter 4 is its third act, which incorporates the two most impressive sequences of the film on the streets of Paris. The first is in an abandoned building where Wick will have to dispatch a dozen opponents and cinematographer Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water, Nightmare Alley) gives us a fabulous bird’s-eye shot in which we see all the action from above while our hero goes from one room to another, killing his opponents. Director Chad Stahelski commented on this sequence and its inspiration from a video game called The Hong Kong Massacre to achieve the visual effect he wanted. The other sequence is that of the Montmartre stairs that lead to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Technically that sequence is perfect, and the choreography of the fights is superb. Each detail is squared to the millimeter, and it is the moment when the hero physically and symbolically rises above all obstacles.

John Wick: Chapter 4 perfectly understands its function as an escape cinema. It always walks the path of genre cinema without straying from the lines and manages to parody itself and action cinema. It finds its strength in lightness and does not pretend to be more than it is. Its exaggerated duration becomes its only weak point. The monosyllabic John Wick seems not to lose strength and this fourth installment is projected to be the most profitable in the franchise.

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