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Operatic violence and wild stunts dominate the overlong John Wick: Chapter 4 to such an extent that character, plot and any glimmer of human emotion are the first casualties.

There isn't an Oscar for stunts yet, but if there where John Wick 4 could already lay claim to it. Easily topping the violent acrobatic ballets of the previous instalments, the film doesn't just go operatic, it goes full Wagnerian. And that will delight as many people as it will annoy.

You can count me in the latter camp, for all the gorgeously designed set-pieces become a bit of a numbing blur after a while, especially in a film that is so conscious about its own overblown runtime that it even includes a Lawrence of Arabia reference in the opening minutes.

The John Wick we see in this movie no longer is the relatable husband who wants to avenge his wife and dog. He is much more akin to the unkillable Michael Meyers, as Keanu Reeves survives whacks, tumbles and bulletfire without even a scratch or bruise.

The nonsensical approach extends to villain Bill Skarsgård, who puts on his best Pepe Le Pew accent and is better at making fashion statements than at being a menacing presence. In fact the only castmember who seems remotely interested in making his character work is the wonderful Donnie Yen as a blind assassin.

Judging by the final minutes of John Wick 4, even the filmmakers know that they have now stretched the series into ridiculous Fast & Furious territory, which should put a nail into the franchise's coffin. Then again, with a worldwide box office of 300 million dollars and counting Chapter 5 seems destined to happen, even if it'll be impossible to top the operatic sillines of Chapter 4.

release: 2023

director: Chad Stahelski

starring: Keanu Reeves, Bill Skarsgård, Ian McShane, Donnie Yen


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