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John Wick Chapter 4 (IMAX in some cinemas)


Stars: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Ian McShane, Lawrence Fishburne, Shamier Anderson, Scott Adkins, Clancy Brown, Rina Sawayama, Natalie Tena, Hiroyuka Sanada, Lance Reddick

Director: Chad Stahelski

This ultimate hymn to mind-numbing violence is (apart from a gun that sets its victims on fire as well as killing them) very much the mixture as before, although at much greater length.

Legendary hitman Wick (Reeves) is still 'obligated' to the 'High Table' of criminal masterminds and seeking his freedom, when Winston (McShane) pays the penalty for failing to dispatch him, by having his New York hotel burnt to the ground, and his confidant/maybe lover (the late lamented Reddick) shot between the eyes by the current Table mouthpiece, Marquis (the baby-faced Skarsgard), who also holds blind assassin Kane (veteran martial arts star Yen) in thrall to him. And, of course, he has hundreds of goons to boot.

When he threatens Wick's hotelier buddy Shimazu (Sanada) with Winston's fate, Wick dispatches at least 80 heavies with lightning fists, feet and guns, before escaping as his friend succumbs to Yen. Now he aims for Marquis and challenges him to a duel, after establishing the appropriate 'family' credits with a Russian mob who ask him to kill a gold-toothed gangster in return, which he does in a spectacular action seqnece with 40 more goons perishing along the way.

Thus armed, he sends his challenge to Marquis, which would wipe his slate clean if he wins. Meanwhile he's stalked both by Mr Nobody (Anderson) and his deadly German shepherd, and by Yen, as well as 30 or more heavies dispatched in a car/motorcycle street battle in the centre of Paris, not to mention another two dozen suited thugs on the massive stone stairway barring the way to the duel site.

Wick, of course, bears a charmed life, including falling 50 feet on to a parked car (certain death), all the way down said stairway (a probable broken neck) and being hit several times by cars.

Reeves does the action stuff brilliantly well, although his acting hasn't improved and probably never will. The best performance (indeed, virtually the only one of any subtlety) comes from UK's McShane. There's a scene after the (lengthy) credits if your bladder can stay the course.

David Quinlan

USA/Germany 2023. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by Company 3 .
169 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 21 Mar 2023