Tuesday, May 23, 2023

John Wick Chapter 4 (2023)

Chapter Four of the John Wick saga would seem to be the end of the tale, at least until the spin offs start dropping all around up.

Bigger and louder than the previous film it entertains in delightful ways, bringing it all to a close as the whole franchise jumps the shark.

I’m not going to go into detail as to what happens other than to say that a lot people die and Wick gets what he wants. We are introduced to numerous new characters and travel with some old favorites.

The best thing in the film is Donnie Yen. Yen’s Caine is glorious character, a heartbreaking bad ass who knows he’s in over his head but is going to go along to save his daughter. The performance is Oscar worthy (YES HE DESERVES AN OSCAR NOMINATION) Watch his body language. Nay, watch his eyes. Caine maybe blind, but Yen still uses his eyes to effect. Watch how they move and don’t react even behind his glasses.  I have been arguing about the greatness of Yen as an actor for years, and I have argued with him (I interviewed him twice) he needs to do dramas because he is so good. While Yen told me people want to see him in action films, he does need to do dramas. This is one of his best roles, it’s a beautiful companion to his role in BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS where he plays another guys trying to do right by his daughter. How good is he? They changed the end of the film and let him live.

While I would most certainly say the filmmaking of the film ranks it among the best of the year, with set pieces that are among the best ever put on film, the film is sloppy narratively and the desire to give us a grand send off results in the film completely sliding from it’s own world into cinematic silliness. I just had to throw up my hands and let it wash over me.

The problem is that while the previous films operated in a world just to the left of our world with assassins and a whole dark world where people got hurt and die, Chapter 4 just throws logic and reason out the window.  Clothes are now bullet proof, people can repeatedly get hit by cars, fall down flights of stairs or go fall from great heights, or have their jugulars cut and no one dies or is inconvenienced until they are. This wasn’t the case in the previous films where even punches took a toll. Here nothing does any damage. If we weren’t four films into a much loved series we would be laughing the lack of damage off the screen.

Additionally the film’s sense of the world ceases to make sense. The High Table can simply blow up a building in New York and no one says boo. Huge gun fights breakout across Paris and no cops show up  and civilians don’t flee in terror. While the series posited a shadow world in control of things, they always tried to be in the shadows, now it’s all a matter of to hell with it. You can’t kill several thousand people and destroy so much property and have no one notice. The shadow world would be in the light it makes no sense…

…then again we shouldn’t be surprised with the new bad guy the Marquis. What complete waste of a character. One of the stupidest villains in screen history he’s a petulant child that doesn’t belong in the world of John Wick. Why is he there? Actually my question should be is why did the high table pick this guy? He has no gravitas. Outside of shooting one character he doesn’t do shit. I mean seriously he is such a fucking wuss that he has Donnie Yen fight Wick in the end. I kept waiting for him to reveal himself as a bad ass but there is nothing there. Why was he picked to handle the Wick problem? There is absolutely no reason that the other wise smart  High Table would defer to him. Think about every other character related to the High Table in the series, they make sense. We know why they are there. The Marquis has none. He is such a bad character that it results in Bill Skarsgard worst performance. I mean I was looking at him and I was thinking I know who this is, but at the same time my brain disconnected because he is such a shitty character that is so badly written I couldn’t believe it was him.

And yet, while the smart and clever series shifts to something mindless, JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 always entertains. It is, for all my bitching a satisfying ending and it makes me want to see the spin offs.

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