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27.03.2023

Luke Yost

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I only recently watched the first three john wick films in preparation for this release, and I have to admit, after watching the first film I considered giving up with the franchise, since the first film was by far the weakest in my opinion. After hearing that these films keep getting better, I watched the second instalment, and then I was hooked. I immediately watched the third and stared counting down the days for this film’s release. I watched it in IMAX on release day and it was one of the best visual experiences I’ve had in the cinema.

 

Firstly, I don’t consider myself a fan of the action genre, and on paper the john wick films don’t interest me at all. I have no interest in action for the sake of action, of which these films could be labelled culprits. What sets the John Wick franchise aside from your typical action film is the immense style, score and soundtrack, and editing. I think that John Wick: Chapter 4 is the best when it comes to these categories, and I would not be surprised at all if it gets nominated for all sorts of technical awards during next year’s awards season.

 

There are very strong conventions of the neo-noir subgenre, which is perhaps my favourite visual style in modern films. The lighting is exceptional with lots of neon lights, which draws the viewers attention into the scene in an immense and captivating light show. Almost every frame of this film makes an amazing photograph, thanks to the exceptional cinematography of Danish cinematographer Dan Laustsen, who shot the previous three John Wick films, as well as Guillermo del Toro’s films Crimson Peak and Nightmare Alley, which both also have strong neo-noir tones. Once the film is released on home video I’ll have to make a breakdown video, because so many shots and scenes in this film are incredible.

 

To be honest I don’t rate Keanu Reeves as an actor, however he fits the role well and its not his acting which makes him suit the role so well, it’s his commitment to the choreography and stunts in these films. I don’t think anyone else could play John Wick any better, despite the character being simple at face value. It is this films other characters where I think the acting ability shines, particularly that of the main antagonist, Marquis Vincent de Gramont played superbly by Bill Skarsgard, and one of the secondary antagonists, Caine, played by Donnie Yen.

 

I’ve only seen a few of Bill Skarsgard’s films, but I thought he was great as Pennywise in It, and It: Chapter Two, as well as The Devil All the Time, and Barbarian. His performance was by far the most memorable of the film and he made for an incredibly unpredictable and troubling villain in The Marquis de Gramont. He has a couple of very exciting acting roles coming up. Firstly he will starring as Eric Draven in the remake of the cult classic fantasy thriller The Crow. He is also rumoured to be starring in Robert Egger’s fourth film, Nosferatu. Both of these films are going to be very gothic, a style which I think he will suit perfectly, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

 

Born into a prestigious acting family as son of the great Stellan Skarsgard, he and his brothers Alexander and Gustaf have all starred in great films and TV shows and given excellent performances. Alexander Skarsgard was great as John Clayton II in David Yates 2016 film, The Legend of Tarzan, and also in Robert Eggers 2022 film, The Northman. I also thought that the lesser-known Gustaf Skarsgard was exceptional as Floki in The History Channel’s show, Vikings.

 

Coming back to the technical aspects of this film, it’s not just the cinematography which makes this film great, but the score and soundtrack is exceptionally well produced and suits the style of the visuals perfectly creating an immense and gripping atmosphere which makes the film even more trancelike. Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard both created the scores for all four films in the John Wick franchise, and hopefully they continue to because I can’t think of any other composers who can create such great music combining genres like rock, electronic dance music, and techno-pop.

 

A couple of years ago it was announced that Lionsgate had greenlit a fifth instalment of the John Wick franchise. The plan was to film the fourth and fifth films back to back, however this never happened so it’s unclear how long the wait will be for the next film to release. Keanu Reeves has recently stated that he is unsure whether he will return as John Wick, saying “I think we have to wait and see how the audience reacts” to this fourth film. If the success of this film is a factor in the continuation of the franchise I think it’s already clear that the audience wants more, as this is the highest rated film in the quadrilogy on IMDb, Letterboxd and Rotten Tomatoes.

 

On the topic of future films, if we never get to see Keanu Reeves return as John Wick, the franchise will certainly continue in the announced spinoff Ballerina, starring Ana de Armas as the protagonist Rooney, a ballerina who seeks revenge by hunting the murderers of her family. Ana de Armas is a great actor and I thought she gave an incredible performances in Knives Out, The Gray Man and Blade Runner 2049. The Gray man was an action-heavy movie, and she fit in perfectly, so I have to admit I’m looking forward to this spinoff film, Ballerina.

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