Writer Derek Kolstad conjured from his fecund imagination an “icon” destined to resonate in the archives of film’s legendary action heroes. Why? It has always been a conundrum as to the reasons some heroes resonate, and others fade into obscurity; the shelf life of action heroes is ephemeral; age, time and circumstances, especially tensions percolating center stage, in a world of overwhelming conflict, a world desperately in need of rescuing by a force greater than the mundane, average figure. I miss Arnold Schwarzenegger, (“The Terminator”), Charles Bronson (“Death Wish”), Chuck Norris (“The Hitman”) Bruce Willis (“Die Hard’”), Milla Jovovich (“The Fifth Element”) Anne Parillaud (“La Femme Nikita”), Pam Grier (“Coffy”). So many more, but John Wick, surfacing in 2014, tops the scales in revenge killings; he is a retired assassin, living a congenial existence with his wife “Helen” (Bridget Moynahan), when catastrophe poll vaults him into the “killing kingdom” where he overcomes “Rambo’s” gargantuan liquidation numbers. You do not have to see the previous Wick chapters to enjoy (which in my estimation is the finest of the four), Keanu Reeves (“The Matrix”) as a man, a rule breaker, destined to achieve immortality. Reeves, like Wick, is an enigmatic anomaly with secrets sensationally held incommunicado.
“John Wick: Chapter Four” stunningly stylized: fight scenes, artistically capturing beauty and brutality simultaneously; chase and conquering interactions in the streets of Japan, Berlin and a spellbinding sequence at the Arc de Triumph in Paris; one of the most remarkably, aerobically choreographed, balletically balanced and executed episodes ever depicted in film.
Director Chad Stahelski and writers Michael Finch and Shay Hatten have kept the subtle mythological overtones, familiar “friends” and “enemies” of Wick’s, the Blind Assassin who crosses both lanes “Caine” (perspicaciously performed by Donnie Yen) is a crowd stunner. Interestingly the Wick franchise, saturated with gore and death is imbued with grace, elegance and goodness. Hopefully John Wick will not go “gently into that good night…but rage against the dying of the light.”