John Wick: Chapter 4

Posted on March 19, 2023 at 4:23 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and violence
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended and very graphic peril and violence, many characters injured and killed, disturbing and gory images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: March 24, 2023
Date Released to DVD: June 12, 2023
Copyright Lionsgate 2023

I will begin with a quote from another Keanu Reeves movie: “Whoa.”

John Wick: Chapter 4,” almost twice as long as the original, is, like its three predecessors, non-stop action with just enough story and character to establish the stakes. And endless style. As important as the stunts, and reminder, this series was conceived by stunt coordinators, is the demimondaine, the world within a world it occupies. This is the world of assassins. They have their own rules, their own leaders, their own currency, their own telecommunications, a fascinating blend of high and low tech, and their own ultra-luxurious and ultra-discreet hotels. We will not worry about how they support themselves since most of their assassinating seems to be other members of their community, or why none of their chases and shoot-outs never attract anyone from law enforcement.

The rules are made and enforced by a group called The Table, and the person in charge is now an effete French Marquis (Bill Skarsgård just as creepy without the clown make-up as he was in “It”). He is always shown in the grandest possible settings, enjoying exquisite food, drink, art, and music.

And he has a hit out on John Wick. Many many hits out on John Wick.

That’s basically it. A lot of people are highly motivated to kill John Wick, and he goes to various places to avoid being killed and they keep coming after him and he keeps being the takes-a-licking-and-keeps-on-ticking John Wick we know and love.

The Marquis is more in the burn it all to the ground category. He de-sanctifies the Continental Hotel, the sanctuary for all Table-ers. This puts Winston (Keith David) back on John Wick’s side. Most of the intrigue in the film comes from the shifting realignments of the characters’ loyalties. We even get a glimpse of a backstory for John Wick, as he has to re-connect with his family to position himself to resolve things with the Table, permanently.

The Marquis has deployed a former colleague and friend to kill John Wick, the blind assassin Cane (a galvanizing performance by Donnie Yen). It is not about money; that would not be enough. It is the safety of Cane’s daughter. John Wick understands and even respects that. The fights with the two of them are simply spectacular and there is one falling down the steps scene that is an instant classic.

There is a new character in this film who almost steals the movie. He says he is nobody, and that is the only name he has. He has a dog sidekick. Somehow he can find John Wick when no one else has any idea where he is. And he is dazzlingly played by Shamier Anderson. Spin-off, please.

There are many striking locations. There are so so many fight scenes, featuring guns, knives, bigger guns, cars, nunchucks, martial arts, old-school punching, and swords, often combined. And an attack dog. Like all the best action/stunt scenes, they are choreographed like a ballet, even down to the spurts of blood. Even at almost three hours, the franchise has the combination of exciting stunts, expertly paced (if contrary to the laws of physics and, well, reality — and look out for that fall down the steps) and the intriguing world the characters occupy makes this all the fans could wish for.

NOTE: Stay through the credits for an extra scene.

Parents should know that this film is about assassins. There is non-stop action and peril with many characters injured and killed, including major characters, and gory, disturbing images, plus strong language

Family discussion: Why did John Wick want to be known as “loving husband?” What do you think is the meaning of “such is life?” If the series continues, who should be in the next chapter?

If you like this, try: the other John Wick movies and the Matrix series

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Lottery Ticket

Posted on November 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

This genial little fairy tale of a comedy gives us a likable hero and an irresistible fantasy. Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is a good, honest, hard-working kid who lives with his grandmother (Loretta Devine) in the projects. He is so diligent he irons his shoelaces and so kind-hearted that he is the only one who will do errands for a neighbor who has not left his house in decades and is reputed to be a serial killer.

Every day, Kevin walks to his job at the sports shoe store in the mall with his best friends Benny (Brandon T. Jackson of “Tropic Thunder” and “Percy Jackson”) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton of “Fame”), for companionship and safety. They have to pass through some dangerous spots on the way because not everyone in the community wants to see them get there on time. Some do not want them to achieve anything. They want to discourage them from having any ambition that includes participation in the society outside of their community. And some are more predatory and want to take away what little they have.

Kevin’s grandmother has him play her numbers by buying a lottery ticket every week. Just before a three-day 4th of July weekend, when the pot is over $130 million, on impulse Kevin buys a ticket for himself, with the lucky numbers from a fortune cookie. And he wins.

But the lottery office won’t be open until after the holiday, so Kevin has to figure out a way to hold onto the ticket and resist the persuasive powers of everyone from a tough guy just out of prison to the local crime kingpin and the pretty girl who suddenly finds him utterly fascinating.

Producer Ice Cube, who plays the man who never leaves his home, has produced another comedy with a tender heart about poor people and their challenges and dreams. If he tries to have it both ways, with some painful stereotypes and some affectingly vivid personalities, with one character saying that the lottery is designed to keep poor people poor by selling them false dreams and then have someone win $370 million, if it has both a shopping spree montage and some important lessons about what money can’t buy, well, that’s what makes it a fairy tale. And what makes it a pleasant one to watch is the effortless charm of Bow Wow and Jackson.

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