This movie is just flat out good. Which I didn't expect to say when I became ironically hyper-fixated on this movie a few weeks before its release. Before I get into the meat of the film and why it's an enjoyable watch...
First, an analysis of John Wick's combat prowess. When it comes to hand-to-hand fighting I really don't think anyone clears John Wick. He's got like pretty much all the best attributes of beating people up. Fist-fighting--this guys got it. He slugs with the best of 'em. George Foreman 1978. Mike Tyson at his peak. Jerry "the King" Lawler--Memphis, 1981. He hits like a truck. Also the stamina on this guy is crazy. He's had 4 movies where all he does is constant murder and he's still down for more. You get this guy a knife, he's set, he's going crazy. He can stab; he can throw those things. In the first movie, he had a weakness to knives but he overcame that in the sequels and is basically the knife expert now. Also, the gun expert. You give this guy a gun he's taking dudes out. He could do it with his eyes closed. He's like a bat. Pistols, assault rifles, EXPLOSIVE SHOTGUN (one of the best innovations of this fourth film). The only thing that can even come close to slowing this man down is cars. He's been hit by cars like 8 times. How does he keep going? Imagine a person okay. Imagine saying this person's only weakness is a car. Not even a fatal weakness. Just a slight weakness to 2 ton abominations of steel and machinery. Does he turn this weakness into a strength like he did with the knives? Watch the film to find out. (Arguably) His greatest strength is his Olympic-level judo abilities. Get this man in the BJJ Olympics my god. If John Wick was in the 1996 Summer Olympics, he's winning and it's not even close. He's got so many throws and tosses. Yea, okay so John Wick is pretty much a god-tier warrior in almost every regard. A Kratos-level warrior. Like a man fighting ants. Let's do a thought experiment: John Wick vs. John Wick. Oh whoops they've accidentally killed everyone in the world. Oh, you don't believe me?
John Wick Movie Kill Counter
John Wick: 72
John Wick: Chapter 2: 113
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum: 93
John Wick: Chapter 4: 122
*These are only the John Wick kills, so many people die in these movies and I didn't count* *any other kills than for John Wick himself*
I'm going to actually talk about the movie now. The newest (and best) installment in the John Wick franchise is a legitimately impressive film. Why is it impressive? The action in this movie is groundbreaking for North American action cinema. It's not just John Wick running and shooting anymore (although most of the other films weren't like that either). This film has (amongst other elements): Scott Adkins in a fat suit looking like Brenden Frasier in the Whale if he was based and really good at punching and fighting and not sad, a hotel defense featuring Rina Sawayama doing some of the coolest things I've ever seen a pop star do in film, and last but not least, an extended 50?-minute action sequence at the end featuring a Hotline Miami sequence, car chases and fist fights (and judo throws into cars) surrounding the Arc de Triomphe, and a Buster Keaton buildup and gag. It's just very entertaining and creative and impressive. I haven't seen a movie like this at a movie theater in a really long time and it is so next level when compared to like Doctor Strange: wow it's weird rn or some of the other many properties that exist and are bad that I can't think of right now.
Another thing I really like about these movies is there are actual themes pertaining to the John Wick character about morality and fate. These are very surface level but you never see them in action movies. John Wick legitimately wonders whether he is a good person (No, you aren't! You've killed so many people) and also ponders why he still has a will to live. Which is good to address as both my mom and other people have been like "if all this terrible stuff happens to John Wick why doesn't he just wipe himself out?" This film is by far the best when it comes to dealing with these themes as there is one moment of legitimate pathos that really came out of nowhere and actual payoff for the above themes. I really enjoyed this film and I'm quite impressed by it. Also, one last thing, the first film has an incredibly rotten soundtrack. It's the worst butt-rock you've heard in your life. The films progressively have had better soundtracks and this has the best of them all. Music plays a prominent role in one of the action sequences and there is some great house/club beats in this.
Some issues I had were pacing in the first act. Also the first act is initially baffling and I do think it can turn some viewers off. Before the start of the first action sequence this movie doesn't excel but once it gets to the hotel scene it is so much fun and has some of the best action sequences in the history of American filmmaking.
Another thing I will address that some people would consider a flaw. Keanu Reeves isn't a great actor okay. We all know this. People say this is the least convincing he's ever been in this franchise. However, I believe they're looking at this wrong. People want like emotive acting and good expressions of emotions from Keanu Reeves when portraying John Wick? Keanu Reeve's dead face and weak utterings of lines aren't a good "performance", BUT he's portraying John Wick who is arguably a ghoul or some post-human murdering storm. His bad acting kind of wraps around and becomes the character of someone who has sent so many people to an early grave that it's like a regular Tuesday for him. This paragraph was initially supposed to read like a satire of superfans of a franchise defending bad elements of a film they want to like but also I partially believe what I just wrote so come to your own conclusions there.
Arguably my main concern with these movies is their portrayal of casual violence. This has always been a problem in American cinema where violence is much more common than other world cinemas. Like John Wick brutally murders 5 dudes and then the movie just advances to his next round of killings. It has a weird cognitive dissonance between the movie's moralistic overtures about John Wick's fate and then like he just murders 15 people by throwing them into cars and exploding them. But the movie is sick and rad enough that I can ignore these concerns and just enjoy the carnage in front of me. Also, this movie handles this cognitive dissonance better than the first 3 movies because he faces consequences eventually and the action is just so much better than almost any movie I've ever seen. Interestingly, this franchise has progressively leaned into the heroic bloodshed genre (real genre, it's crazy) and I think that serves this material well as opposed to the drama of the first one and the over-the-top action of the third one.
2 quick asides:
Quick aside about John Wick: This movie opens with John Wick hunting Arab men. Well specifically the leader of the worldwide assassin's guild but it's such a clumsy way to open the film. Like people don't remember this hyper-specific lore from the second movie about how the leader of the assassin's guild is in the desert and you have to walk until you pass out to find him. It was just really, really silly and the film could have cut this scene and been much stronger for it.
Quick aside about the MPAA: If this movie had no John Wick killing 122 people but had one gay kiss it would still receive an R rating. American culture is weirdly obsessed with sex while also beingly weirdly moralistic and that comes out often when the MPAA has to decide the ratings for films featuring gay romances or even allegory. John Wick!