Yes, I did see John Wick: Chapter 4

I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s 2½ hours of solid, non-stop chop-sockie and gun-fu, strung together on an increasing thin, baroque plot built around an imaginary and deeply improbable society of assassins. Time flew by! You don’t get to think, because if there is a brief pause that might give you a moment to consider the weirdness of the story, there’s a kinetic distraction that will fly in from stage right with a knife or a pistol or a seriously vicious dog. Which is OK, I guess, it’s a popcorn movie with no time to eat popcorn.

I was quickly desensitized to all the murder, but there was something that bothered me greatly. John Wick gets beat up badly — he’s hit by cars multiple times, and everyone — I mean everyone — is punching and kicking him. There’s one scene where he has to run up 222 stairs to get to a deadly appointment, and it is of course lined with bad guys who are continuously shooting and punching him, and he gets to the top and one of the heavies knocks him down and he rolls down the stairs. I don’t mean he falls hard — he rolls down all of the stairs in a long scene that is comical in its overdoneness.

That hit home. I don’t often get shot at or stabbed, but I have sometimes twisted an ankle or overdone the walking or stretched wrong in bed and ended up hobbling and aching for days or weeks. I just wanted to say, “John, don’t get up. You’re gonna need lots of ibuprofen, and you might want to ice your whole body for a while. Get some rest, John.” Oh, sure, I could watch him persevere in a gun battle with thousands of enemies and not blink an eye, but it was the falls that were just too relatable.

I sincerely hope that there isn’t a John Wick: Chapter 5. The franchise has been thoroughly milked at this time, and it would be a good idea to move on creatively. But most of all, I feel for Keanu Reeves, who had to have exhausted himself making this movie.

Keanu, you’ve got to be popping painkillers and icing every joint in your body. Get some rest, Keanu.


  1. cartomancer says

    Keanu won’t be needing the painkillers – it’s his stuntmen that do all that stuff.

    Why not get stuntman of your own, and start delegating all the energetic stuff like walking down stairs to him?

  2. says

    I sincerely hope that there isn’t a John Wick: Chapter 5. The franchise has been thoroughly milked at this time, and it would be a good idea to move on creatively

    Oh hi “John Wick”, have you met “The Fast and Furious”.
    Never underestimate filmmakers propensity for cash grabs. As long as people keep paying to see shitty movies, they’ll keep making them.

  3. wzrd1 says

    @1, I dunno. I suspect PZ is much like me and Hancock, “I’m real good at down”. ;)
    Unfortunately, they keep moving up and down farther and farther apart.

  4. daved says

    Fans of the John Wick franchise are rooting for a prequel, so we could get to see whatever the heck it was that happened before the first movie.

  5. says

    There’s a pretty cool documentary about the stunt-woman who used to stand in for Xena. (“Double Dare”) I bet she bought her ibuprofen by the pallet-load. I felt a lot of sympathy for her. At least some of the big name talent are pretty decent toward their stunt-people.

    I remain puzzled by the way that John Wick slaughters all these people to get to one other person for a simple act of revenge. His point is that he killed all of the 100-or-whatever orcs in movie 1 (the only one I saw) because his dog was killed. Meanwhile, creating 100 times whatever pissed off wives and vengeful children from all the people he killed because of his dog. Remember, it was not the bodyguards’ fault – they were just chasing their paychecks when Wick crashed in and shot them 5 times in the face. In the logic of John Wick-land, everyone would be carrying out endless revenge feuds until the population dropped low enough that nobody encountered anyone else anymore who needed shooting. I guess what I’m saying is that John Wick is not the guy you hire to kill Babi Yaga, he’s the guy you hire to kill Babi Yaga and everyone in the approximate vicinity of Babi Yaga.

    When it was over I spent a while trying to decide if it was government-sponsored propaganda, to help raise more generations of Americans primed to commit mass murder of the families and entire neighborhoods of anyone that annoys us. In a world where the US president sends navy special forces to a village in Yemen to kill an american citizen’s 12 year-old daughter (Al Awlaki) it starts to sound pretty John Wickian. I suppose John Wick was doing everyone a favor by only killing security guards and not just using WMD on entire city blocks. Or maybe that’s episode 4.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    If you are prepared to watch films nearly three hours long (and have the bladders to do it) I recommend some of the films Tarkovsky made. Slow but if you are into his kind of film time will fly by.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    A three hour film might fit all the plot of Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice”.
    (Heavy hint to any filmmakers out there)
    For no holds-barred SF make a film of a Neal Asher or Iain Banks novel.

  8. says

    Welcome to Hollywood, where getting knocked out never results in any ongoing concussion symptoms, and getting shot in the leg never results in bleeding out from your femoral artery.
    Also: cars blow up when they crash, computers make little beeping noises, and government buildings have walk-in sewer systems.

  9. says

    The first John Wick was an action movie classic with simple but unusual idea – they fridged his dog – that took the audience on a roller coaster ride through a mysterious hidden world. Leave it at one movie and it would have been perfect.

    Die Hard was another action movie classic that was a palate cleanser for its time. The hero actually got hurt! Coming after an era where you had the likes of Arnold going up against armies with machine guns who didn’t even scratch him, having John McClane get more beat up and bloodied as the movie went on was a revelation (John Wick is like a cross between the two, he gets hurt but he might as well have got a paper cut instead of being shot, it slows him down about as much).

    The problem with both of these franchises is that they became franchises. Every sequel just got more and more ridiculous. The more grounded McClane ended up being able to do impossible car stunts and I don’t think there are any people in John Wick’s world who isn’t an assassin.

    I’m not the type to moan about how Hollywood puts out too many sequels, but sometimes it’s good to stop at one great film experience.

    Also, the John Wick franchise is getting a prequel TV series starring Mel GIbson so a lot of sharks have been jumped.

  10. seachange says

    You were concerned in your previous post that the near-three-hour length was going to try your patience. Even though you came out of this movie with misgivings about what you watched, you did say here in this post that time flew by. The movie did grab your interest and was able to change your mind.

  11. says

    This is really nothing new. A common premise in ’70s martial arts films was running a gauntlet. The hero would face multiple opponents in short order to reach a goal. Sometimes the opponents weren’t human, like mechanical men in a secret passage in whatever temple the hero was studying in that he had to defeat so he could leave. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare this clip from 1977’s The Shaolin Plot is a typical example. Tiger, played James Tien, has to face multiple Shaolin Temple monks to see the Abbot. Fight choreography by Sammo Hung, who also appears in the film as an evil Tibetan Buddhist monk. Korean actor Casanova Wong as one of the last two monks.

    For that matter that kind of thing happens in real life as well. Kyokushin karate has the 100 man kumite, where an aspirant has to spar with 100 other fighters, one opponent at a time.

    I saw the first John Wick film and found the world building interesting, but didn’t find Wick himself particularly sympathetic or interesting.

  12. wzrd1 says

    Well, the “justification” for Wick in the first film was that the dog was a gift from his wife shortly before she died.
    And well, revenge makes everything better, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, all end up blind and toothless, which is good or something.
    Although, his assassination methods are decidedly odd, that whole frontal assault thing, rather than surgically and more covertly eliminating his target. But, a violence fetishist’s dream, being a one man SEAL team, who can out-Rambo Rambo himself. Of course, not a one reading the original work, so not realizing that Troutman shot Rambo at the end of the book with the Sheriff’s shotgun.
    And of course, it being Hollywood, getting shot while wearing Kevlar makes one invulnerable, rather than feeling like one was hit with a hammer full force…
    Personally, I found the entire premise and film dumber than a bag of hammers.

  13. says

    When it comes to laughably-overextended franchises, there’s no topping the Fast & Furious movies. After Fast Five (my personal favorite), I figured the only way they could keep topping themselves would be to have Touretto & Co. chasing tanks in their cars (which they then did); then I figured they’d have to have cars chasing airplanes (which they then did); then I figured they’d have to have their cars engaging with a nuclear-powered attack submarine (which they then did); then I figured they’d have to have at least one of their cars shot into space (which they then did). So now they’ve crossed more than one Stupid Sequel Event Horizon. But hey, at least they don’t work their way to yet another superheroes-saving-the-Universe-from-yet-another-laughably-contrived-dastardly-evil-threat “climax” like so many superhero movies these days…

  14. StevoR says

    @ ^ Raging Bee : “then I figured they’d have to have at least one of their cars shot into space (which they then did)”

    So one of them was aboard Musk’s Tesla when it was launched towards Mars?

  15. says

    No, they had to launch a car into orbit to ram it into a satellite before it could be used to spread some God’s-Eye virus thingie all over the world. Which, in fairness, is a bit less silly than #QElon launching a car into space for no damn reason at all…

  16. Chaos Engineer says

    John Wick would have been an OK movie if it had been an hour shorter, which could have been easily dome by cutting most of the fight sequences in half.

    I’m on the way back from a showing of “Polite Society”, which everyone should see instead. It’s an action movie set in London-Pakistani society. The main character is a schoolgirl who wants to be a stuntman, and apparently her training has given her the ability to do wuxia moves without using support wires. She’s opposed to her older sister’s wedding. Is this just childish jealousy, or is she acting on well-founded suspicion? Watch the movie and find out!

  17. John Morales says

    Raging Bee:

    Which, in fairness, is a bit less silly than #QElon launching a car into space for no damn reason at all…

    Consider the concept of conspicuous consumption.
    Crank it up to 11.

    That’s the reason.

  18. Silentbob says

    @ ^
    It was actually a dummy payload to test a Falcon heavy but since when did Morales ever let truth get in the way of a good self-satisfied sneer.

  19. John Morales says


    It was actually a dummy payload to test a Falcon heavy

    Heh heh heh.

    You do get that a lump of concrete or a bag of sand would have been an equally-good payload.


    “The Roadster is the first standard roadworthy vehicle sent into space,[19] following several special-purpose lunar and Mars rovers.
    The car was permanently mounted on the rocket in an inclined position above the payload adapter. Tubular structures were added to mount front and side cameras. Photos of the car prior to payload encapsulation were released.[20]

    Positioned in the driver’s seat is “Starman”, a full-scale human mannequin clad in a SpaceX pressure spacesuit.[21] It was placed with the right hand on the steering wheel and the left elbow resting on the open window sill. The mannequin was named after the David Bowie song “Starman”,[22] and the car’s sound system was set before launch to continuously loop the Bowie song “Space Oddity”.[23]

    There is a copy of Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, along with references to the book in the form of a towel and a sign on the dashboard that reads “DON’T PANIC!”.[24] A Hot Wheels miniature Roadster with a miniature Starman is mounted on the dashboard. A plaque bearing the names of the employees who worked on the project is placed underneath the car, and a message on the vehicle’s circuit board reads “Made on Earth by humans”.[25] The car also carries a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy on a 5D optical disc, a proof of concept for high-density long-lasting data storage, donated to Musk by the Arch Mission Foundation.[26][27]”

    but since when did Morales ever let truth get in the way of a good self-satisfied sneer.


  20. rorschach says

    Movie franchises like Wick insult my intelligence. Dumb revenge plots with excessive violence, and for what? Like, what is the message here apart from the blood and gore and basic emotions? I watched JW1, gave 2 a chance, and then just didn’t bother again.

  21. says

    Look on the bright side, rorschach: that character is dead, which shows that someone somewhere had enough good sense to make sure that franchise stayed finite. They maybe should have done that at #2, but better late than never.

    Moviemakers these days really need to go back to the Book of Armaments: only to the number three shalt thou count, never go to four, and five is right out! Indy Jones IV, Matrix IV, John Wick IV, were all just embarrassing and sad; and I never stuck around for Alien IV or Terminator IV. I’m not looking forward to Avatar III, let alone IV (unless the Na’vi get ground-to-space missiles, otherwise screw it, they’re hosed). The only exception I can think of is “Fast Five,” which was a fun stupid romp without having to see any of its predecessors.

  22. says

    It was actually a dummy payload…

    Damn, you’d think a dummy like #QElon could find better dummies for that purpose. I’m thinking Bill Barr, Trump, and his sons would add up to about the same mass…maybe throw in Jared and Ivanka for good measure…