More epic, more scale and more ambition in a sweeping spectacle: ‘John Wick 4’ turns cinematic action into a work of art

(John Wick) If we choose to leave the always attractive borders of the Asian continent and, more specifically, to leave an Indonesia that has given us tremendous joy under the direction of Gareth Evans —’The Raid’— and Timo Tjahjanto —’The Night Comes for Us’ —, there is no doubt that the ‘John Wick’ saga is the banner of current action and martial arts cinema; at least in the west.

After two more than notable first installments, ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ decided to incorporate a tribute to Buster Keaton in its intense opening scene in which images of ‘The General’s Machinist’ could be seen; a declaration of intent that, paying tribute to the king of silent film stunts, served as an appetizer for the accumulation of impossible risk scenes that would follow one another on screen.

The start of the huge ‘John Wick 4’ also contains a determining wink that, in this case, is very different. In it, a direct reference is made to the mythical transition of the matchstick and the desert of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’; a match cut that anticipates the almost absurd levels of epic, scale and ambition that have been injected into almost three hours of pure adrenaline, rarely seen in a production of this type.

Even more. Even better.

If anything has marked the ‘John Wick’ franchise since its inception, it’s the feeling of constant crescendo movie after movie. The original film, despite dazzling with its action-packed passages, kept its feet closer to the ground in the form of a typical revenge thriller with an extra bit of —great— stylized violence; but its two sequels were increasing in intensity and almost cartoon rampage until ending in a trilogy closure that seemed insurmountable.

After the ‘Parabellum’ show, it was hard to think that the adventures and misadventures of Keanu Reeves’ Baba Yaga could surpass themselves, but Chad Stahelski has once again taken the director’s seat to serve us a cathedral from the silver platter. contemporary actioner who manages to leave his predecessor in diapers while unhinging jaws in the stalls.

As soon as it starts, and after putting the cards that will be played on this occasion on the table, this fourth chapter puts all the meat on the grill to start chaining setpieces that evolve upwards from the first moment in terms of spectacularity. from its wild choreographies, to its charge of violence and the brutal combination of hand-to-hand combat, with bladed weapons and firearms.

If this cocktail of blood, gunpowder and broken bones works perfectly, it is no longer only due to the creativity contained in each action sequence, which differs from the previous one with characteristic mise-en-scène concepts or visual treatment, but also thanks to a Simply impeccable technical and formal workmanship that cries out to be enjoyed on the biggest screen we have at our disposal.

the way of death

The planning of Stahelski and his team of choreographers, in addition to being brilliant, has eclipsed what was seen in the previous tapes, remembering that the exchanges of blows also need to take care of the narrative as much as their intensity. However, it is the direction of photography by Dan Lausten, who repeats for the third time in a row in the saga hitting the ceiling, which takes the cake.

The work of the Danish DOP is, simply and plainly, on another level, with practical light effects and neon-key colors that seem to be taken from a hyper-vitaminated film by Nicolas Winding Refn and with a use of the camera that elevates even more if possible the extraordinary production design of the film, as elegant —in its own way— as ostentatious, and which leaves astonishing passages, such as an overhead shot that evokes the spirit of the video game ‘Hotline Miami’ with unusual fidelity, including electronic music.

But none of this would be so special if it weren’t contained in that 100% house-brand universe, populated by a collection of characters as colorful as usual. A new repertoire has been added to regulars such as John, Winston and company, among which the perfidious Marquis of Bill Skarsgard stands out —the great villain of the show— and, above the rest, Caine, a blind assassin played by the master Donnie Yen whose dynamic with Reeves is to be commended.

If we add to this an even greater expansion of the lore and context about the peculiar universe of lethal hitmen and criminal organizations, new details about the operation of the High Table and a taste for homage that does not hesitate to allude directly to that jewel of Walter Hill titled ‘The Warriors’, the delight is not only full, but hardly equal.

Keanu Reeves already warned a season ago that, after ‘John Wick 4’ it would be time to let the character rest for a season; but if this is the last movie we will see in the saga, we can consider

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