An Homage to Video Games — a Review of John Wick: Chapter 4
The new John Wick was recently released, and I — like every other fan of Keanu Reeves out there — booked the first ticket I could. I went for Keanu, and I stayed for, well, Keanu, and the fun visuals, of course.
The fourth instalment in this series follows Wick’s fight with the High Table, and here he faces a brand-new enemy: The Marquis de Gramont (played by Bill Skarsgård). The Marquis is cold, cruel, and ready to burn everything to the ground to destroy “the idea” of John Wick. He’s a classic villain — there isn’t any real depth to his character, but that doesn’t matter. Skarsgård plays the character well; he’s calm, swanky, and plays the “rich brat with a lust for blood” character really well, almost giving Ramsay Bolton a run for his money.
But the Marquis is at the top of a long list of enemies that Wick must fight through, to reach the top. Determined to end this, Wick brings the fight to the High Table, and the High Table has granted the Marquis with every resource available to get rid of this problem.
The result? A video-game-style series of fights, where Wick quite literally fights through base levels with minor battles, before fighting the boss of each arena, and moving on. Wick fights an initial boss, the boss’s boss, the boss’s boss’s boss ad nauseum — until he reaches his ultimate target.
The callback to video games is glaring from the moment Wick steps up to bat with the first enemy.
The waves-of-fighters-to-reach-a-final-boss style reminded me of Hades. I’m sure there are other games with this style as well, but I really, really like Hades.
The introduction of a particular character was interesting — in the sense that it was completely unnecessary, but made for good, lighthearted TV — or film, in this case. I’m referring to the character, Tracker (played by Shamier Anderson), and his lovable canine companion. In this scenario, his dog is his tracking — and killing — partner, a surprise card that takes every bad guy by surprise. Honestly — I loved the little guy. The dog, that is. The Tracker himself was not too bad — a standard assassin who gets sucked in to the Marquis’ plot to make some money, and ends up hunting John Wick (alongside thousands of others). He survives because of his dog, and the dog was a very good boy, indeed.
Don’t get me wrong — the movie does what it’s supposed to do. The fight scenes were beautifully choreographed, and the visuals (combined with the soundtrack) were well worth the watch.
But at the end of the day, that’s all the movie was. The ensemble cast was a pleasant revisit from the 2019 installment — I enjoyed seeing Winston (played by Ian McShane) and The Bowery King (played by Laurence Fishburne) on-screen, and their dynamic was as fun to watch as ever.
The movie’s saving graces were its music (by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard) and cinematography (by Dan Laustsen) — the action scenes were fun to watch and the shoot out at a busy roundabout was very entertaining and a reminder of why I don’t drive here (it’s actually cause I can’t afford a car, but I digress).
Despite what is meant to be an end to an epic saga, the movie felt formulaic — prompting the comparison to video games and their fighting styles.
A particularly striking scene was an homage to Hotline Miami, complete with an over-the-head shot of Wick methodically moving through each room, killing everyone he comes across.
But were any of the characters memorable, apart from Wick and the dog? Not really. Caine is an Asian version of Daredevil, and his one defining character trait is that he’s a father. I couldn’t tell you anything else about him. The Marquis is cartoonishly evil, and even Mr. Nobody is as memorable as his name.
However, I don’t think the point of the movie was to have an intense, memorable plot — and that’s okay. To me, the point was for John Wick to ride off into the sunset, guns blazing.
All in all, it was a fun watch. This was a definitive end, which means we won’t see Mr. Wick anymore. Will we see more of Winston, or the High Table? It could be fascinating, so I’m hopeful — but I know better than that.