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movie review with Keanu Reeves…

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movie review with Keanu Reeves…

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After four years of waiting for the third chapter, also due to the pandemic, it finally arrives in Italian cinemas John Wick 4new adventure of the fearsome Baba Yaga played by Keanu Reeves. A saga that has undoubtedly revolutionized the panorama of today’s cinematic action, thanks above all to the remarkable physicality of its protagonist and the experience in the field of Chad Stahelskia former stuntman who successfully turned to directing with John Wick. A bombastic and unexpected public success destined to continue over time, given that the prequel series is already arriving at the time of writing The Continental and the film spin-off Ballerinawith protagonist Ana de Armas.

Following the events of the third episode, John Wick is cornered. Few people you can count on like the Bowery King’s Laurence Fishburne; more and more enemies inside and outside the Grand Table and the Continental, including the Marquis Vincent De Gramont, played by Bill Skarsgårdand the blind hitman Caine (an old acquaintance of John), played instead by Donnie Yen. Between New York and Japan, between Berlin and Paris, also passing through Morocco, the usual concentration of action and violence unfolds, in preparation for an epic final duel between deadly killers but with their own precise idea of ​​honor and mutual respect.

John Wick 4: the overflowing return of Baba Yaga, between action and quotationism

Photo Credit: Murray Close

John Wick 4 it is not only the longest chapter of the saga (169 minutes), but also the one furthest from the atmospheres and dynamics of the progenitor. The action thriller with which the character of Keanu Reeves presented himself to the spectators, a fine display of well-choreographed martial arts born of a desire for private revenge, has transformed over the years and the films into an ever wider and more murky, dominated by power struggles between disturbing characters, part of progressively more sinister and threatening associations. A real franchise, willing to confront the pop universe and the history of cinema head on.

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Con John Wick 4Chad Stahelski no longer limits himself in this sense: he explicitly recalls Lawrence d’Arabia with the incipit in the desert, it cheekily pays homage to the radio voice of The warriors of the night and winks at Takeshi Kitano and to his Zatoichi through the character of Donnie Yen. All this takes place with video game dynamics, with progressively more difficult “levels” in terms of commitment and quantity of enemies to face, and with a James Bond approach, traceable not only in the protagonist’s continuous wanderings to the four corners of the world, but also and above all in the aesthetic research of costumes and scenography.

John Wick 4 proceeds by accumulation

John Wick 4 3
Photo Credit: Murray Close

The intent of John Wick 4 it is clearly that of making things bigger and bigger, even at the cost of definitively shelving the already scarce claims to realism. Thus it happens that, in the name of show and entertainment, a building collapses on itself in the middle of Manhattan without particular reactions, or that John Wick himself is hit several times by speeding cars without reporting obvious consequences. To top it all off there are the inevitable action sequences, the trademark of the franchise which, thanks to the contribution of Donnie Yen, Marko Zaror e Scott Adkins it does not fail even in this case.

Despite the good premises, however, there is the feeling that this franchise is showing the rope, and that the narrative hypertrophy (the playing time is really excessive) does not help to hide ever more evident limits. Problems that we try to remedy by disseminating clues and ideas for any further spin-offs within the story, such as those contained in the scene after the credits (stay in the theater until the end). But is it really possible to always proceed by accumulation, inserting increasingly talkative and despicable enemies from time to time as opposed to the proud and elegant fixity of John Wick and never making a real change to the structure of the story? A question that only the uncertain future of this franchise can answer.

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The warrior of the night

John Wick 4 4

However, in this cinema that continually repeats itself, hybridizing itself with other media and with the ever more complex panorama of current entertainment, there are also notable cues, which we must point out. One of them is definitely the photography of Dan Laustsen, never so strong and personal in the saga. With the dynamics of the clashes that tend to repeat themselves and the stylization of the violence that inevitably cannot be as impactful as in the previous chapters, Laustsen’s work becomes a fundamental support in the characterization of John Wick, transforming him into a warrior of the night who he moves in a ghostly way in the gloomy metropolis he explores, animated by the mere survival instinct and leaving behind only a long trail of blood.

The aesthetic research of John Wick 4 it also leads to a continuous interweaving with art and its places, already evident in the previous chapters but in this case a real narrative leitmotiv, especially in the long Parisian parenthesis. Even more crystalline is Chad Stahelski’s desire to play with the stylistic features of oriental action cinema, accompanying the story towards the more classic clash between equal and opposite characters, sides of the same coin separated only by fate and opposing interests. It is no coincidence that this track then leads to a duel with clear western nuances, yet another foray of pop imagery into a saga capable of drawing new life exclusively from its contaminations with other genres and other universes.

The legacy of John Wick

Photo Credit: Murray Close

Between quotations (one of which inInferno of Dante), empty passages (like an excessively dilated incipit) and peaks of dazzling beauty (a splendid sunrise, in perfect balance between life and death), John Wick 4 guarantees another distillation of action and entertainment, without ever taking itself seriously but at the same time avoiding embracing a clear comic and self-parodic drift. Among the characters who greet us and others that we will see again in the various emanations of the franchise, there is also room for the appearance of the late Lance Reddick, who died prematurely a few days before the film’s arrival in theaters. One of the many faces that we will remember from this franchise, which for better or for worse was able to shake commercial action cinema from its foundations, leading to other valid followers such as Atomic Blonde, I am noone e Bullet Train. And everything suggests that it’s not really over here.

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John Wick 4 is scheduled in Italian theaters from 23 March, distributed by 01 Distribution.

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