John Wick: Chapter 4 First Reviews: The Best in the Franchise, with Epic Wall-to-Wall Action

Critics say the latest John Wick adventure might be the best action film of the year, full of spectacular thrills, memorable supporting performances, and at least one set piece you won't forget.

by | March 14, 2023 | Comments

How often does the fourth movie in a franchise stand out as one of the best action movies ever made? There’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and now there’s John Wick: Chapter 4, according to the latter sequel’s first reviews. Going longer, the movie apparently also goes for broke with its non-stop action, and reportedly, none of it disappoints. Combine that with another great performance by Keanu Reeves, a number of scene-stealing supporting players, and some emotional and thematic substance, and you’ve got a must-see blockbuster that should be hard to beat this year — it’s your move, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One!

Here’s what critics are saying about John Wick: Chapter 4:

Where does it rank in the franchise?

John Wick: Chapter 4 outdoes its formidable predecessors in nearly every respect.
– Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

John Wick: Chapter 4 once again exceeds expectations.
– Jeff Nelson, Showbiz Cheat Sheet

It is the most John Wick movie. And it is the best John Wick movie.
– Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

John Wick: Chapter 4 takes cinema to the next level once again.
– Fred Topel, United Press International

There’s a strong argument to be made that it’s the best of the sequels.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

It may not be consistent enough to rank as the franchise’s finest, but when it gets going, it cooks with gas.
– Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

In this gradual development and expansion of the Wickaverse, the filmmakers seem to have lost the thread of what makes the first and, at times, second film in the series work so well.
– Derek Smith, Slant Magazine

Kean Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Will it go down as one of the best action movies ever?

John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the best modern American action films this side of a Mission: Impossible.
– Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

John Wick: Chapter 4 stands above… the past decade’s worth of action films as a whole.
Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

This fourth adventure — like those that preceded it — thrillingly and savagely slays its modern action competition.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the best action movies of the past few years.
– JimmyO, JoBlo’s Movie Network

John Wick: Chapter 4 boasts truly innovative action — not only by the standards of the John Wick series, but also for all of cinema.
Fred Topel, United Press International

This is sure to become a highly rewatched, often quoted classic.
– Alan French, Sunshine State Cineplex

What other movies could we compare it to?

John Wick: Chapter 4 feels like the first John Wick movie that wants to be a Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western. It’s like Sergio Leone crossed with John Woo.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

It fits in with the likes of Leone, Walter Hill, John Woo, and George Miller.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

It is near non-stop wall-to-wall combat, car chases, and shoot-outs on a level not seen since Mad Max: Fury Road.
– Karl Delossantos, Smash Cut Reviews

It’s the best American action blockbuster since George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
– Rafael Motamayor, IndieWire

Keanu Reeves and Donnie Yen in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by Murray Close/©Lionsgate)

Does Chad Stahelski outdo himself?

Chad Stahelski has once again delivered the goods and then some.
– Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Director Chad Stahelski, who helmed all the previous films, and his formidable stunt team have outshone their previous work, and that’s saying something.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

John Wick: Chapter 4 strongly suggests that he is the finest Hollywood director of gun battles, fist fights, sword duels, and car chases working at the moment.
– Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

Throughout John Wick: Chapter 4 director Chad Stahelski has been flexing his directorial muscles with extended action scenes that have a visual style and cohesion that highlights how he’s become one of the best action filmmakers in the world. And then in the wild finale, Stahelski pulls out all the stops.
– Sean Mulvihill, Mulviews

Chad Stahelski lacks the showman’s instinct for building and payoff.
– Charles Bramesco, Guardian

So the action is good?

Stunt coordinator Scott Rogers makes a bombastic return, choreographing the most bonkers fight sequences ever to hit the silver screen.
Jeff Nelson, Showbiz Cheat Sheet

John… participates in perhaps the greatest action sequence of all time.
Karl Delossantos, Smash Cut Reviews

The action in John Wick: Chapter 4 is out of this world fantastic.
Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Between the range of action we see, the creativity of the various settings and set pieces, and the way Reeves acts all through it, it’s a true wonder to behold.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

Every action scene in John Wick: Chapter 4 could be the climax of any other movie. There is no small fight in this movie.
Fred Topel, United Press International

The final hour of the film is essentially one large action scene, and one staged with such bravura skill and visual wit that it exposes the vast majority of American action direction as the lazy sham it is.
Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

Kean Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

Does it get a little ridiculous?

This is a nutso film packed with over-the-top characters, on-the-nose line readings, and skewed levels of plausibility that rival the Fast & Furious franchise. However, once again, this series stays true to itself.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

It is patently ridiculous and mostly very fun: the platonic ideal of a globe-hopping meatbag action thriller taken to its gloriously illogical extreme.
– Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

The action in John Wick movies wouldn’t seem out of place in Looney Tunes. For Chapter 4, the filmmakers seem in on the joke though as there’s a playfulness to the set pieces.
– Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

With a willingness to use slapstick in the middle of action beats, John Wick: Chapter 4 is maybe the funniest entry in the series.
– Brandon Zachary,

Is there more to enjoy than just the action?

The secret weapon of the John Wick films has always been the emotion that fuels John… The fact that this latest film ends in such a character-focused way inspires awe of a different, incredibly welcome kind.
Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Director Chad Stahelski and screenwriters Shay Hatten and Michael Finch carry through themes surrounding consequence and the passage of time while also strengthening them with added sentiments on absolution, fate, fidelity and friendship.
– Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

This is a movie that looks not forward toward some cash-grab sequel, but toward the past and how we got here… [It’s] the most emotionally resonant movie of the franchise.
Rafael Motamayor, IndieWire

Kean Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by ©Lionsgate)

How does the movie look?

This movie is gorgeous. It’s a symphony of violence, wonderfully captured by cinematographer Dan Lausten… Every shot of this film has something going on.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

For a series which has always looked stylish as hell, Chapter 4 sets a new standard for production design and cinematography.
Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

Cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s lush visuals makes sure the film is dazzling to look at even when there isn’t any action happening.
Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Through cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s lens, the saturated colorscape burns vivid and vibrant. He captures an incredibly seductive depth of field with the imagery, making the characters and action pop.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

What about Keanu Reeves’ performance?

Reeves truly continues to impress, seemingly getting better at this stuff with each franchise.
– Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

Keanu Reeves continues his action-hero dominance with another incredibly physical, supernaturally charismatic performance that pushes the boundaries of what any actor should be willing to put themselves through but he seems to take great pleasure in with tremendous skill.
Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Reeves does solid work bringing out flashes of humanity and exhaustion in the character, even as he dispatches untold numbers of enemies through plenty of amazing stunt work.
Brandon Zachary,

Reeves might have fewer lines in this film than any so far in the franchise, but he completely sells Wick’s commitment while also imbuing him with emotional exhaustion that adds more gravity to this chapter.
– Brian Tallerico,

Bill Skarsgård in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by Murray Close/©Lionsgate)

How is the film’s villain?

Skarsgård builds depth and dimension into his ostentatious, arrogant, weaselly baddie.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

While Skarsgård’s Gramont is an arrogant upper-cruster who likes to hold court in the Louvre and the Paris Opera House, he’s more of a functional than unique villain.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

What lets Chapter 4 down is its central villain. Bill Skarsgård is entertaining… but there’s no development there.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Does anyone in the cast stand out?

Donnie Yen delivers such a physically witty and charismatic performance that you can’t wait for the inevitable spinoff.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

The legendary Donnie Yen gives a brilliant performance and effortlessly steals scenes as Caine.
– Simon Thompson, The Playlist

Honorable mention to Scott Adkins, whose scene-stealing turn as a purple-clad, poker-playing gangster with chrome-plated front teeth deserves its own spinoff.
– Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

Shamier Anderson, playing a new character… is destined to be a fan-favorite (and whose loyal dog nearly walks away with the movie).
– Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

Anderson steals the film during several scenes… It’s a star-making supporting role, and we would love to see him headline his own franchise in the near future.
Alan French, Sunshine State Cineplex

Rina Sawayama is an absolute firecracker in her film debut.
Dan Bayer, Next Best Picture

Ian McShane and Lance Reddick are given their moments to shine. They both make a meal out of their screen time.
– Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

(Photo by Murray Close/©Lionsgate)

Will we feel the runtime?

At just hair under three hours, John Wick: Chapter 4 is indulgent for sure, but it’s earned the running time at this point.
Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

John Wick: Chapter 4 can certainly be accused of being too long. But I doubt many fans will be complaining.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

Is Chapter 4 too long? You bet it is… yet the movie is conceived as a knowingly overstuffed gift to John Wick fans, and on that level it succeeds.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

In an age of increased grumbling about films with two-plus-hour runtimes, Chapter 4’s roaring pace serves as a counter argument that proclaims movies should be as long as they need to be.
Tom Jorgensen, IGN Movies

Don’t let the length fool you; John Wick: Chapter 4 may be the most exhilarating two-hour and thirty-eight minutes you’ll spend in theaters this year.
JimmyO, JoBlo’s Movie Network

I do think there’s a slightly tighter (if you can say 150 minutes would be tight) version of this film that’s simply perfect.
Brian Tallerico,

John Wick: Chapter 4 opens in theaters everywhere on March 24, 2023.

Thumbnail image by Murray Close/©Lionsgate

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