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Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

John Wick: Chapter 4

also known as “Džonas Vikas 4,” “John Wick 4: Baba Yaga,” “John Wick: 4. felvonás,” “John Wick: Capítulo 4,” “John Wick: Chapter 4,” “John Wick: Kapitel 4,” “John Wick: Kapitola 4,” See more »
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for pervasive strong violence and some language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Moral Rating: Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Crime Action Thriller IMAX Sequel
Length: 2 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release: 2023
USA Release: March 24, 2023 (wide release)
DVD: June 13, 2023
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Relevant Issues
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Films that attempt to make murder and killing cool and/or stylish

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Army of mercenaries / assassins / bounty hunters

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

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About death

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What is THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF GOD? Answer

What is ETERNAL DEATH?

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Featuring Keanu ReevesJardani Jovanovich / Jonathan “John” Wick
Donnie YenCaine
Bill SkarsgårdMarquis
Laurence FishburneBowery King
Clancy BrownHarbinger
Lance ReddickCharon
Rina SawayamaAkira
Scott AdkinsKilla
Ian McShaneWinston
Natalia TenaKatia
See all »
Director Chad Stahelski
Producer 87Eleven Entertainment
Lionsgate
See all »
Distributor Distributor: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Trademark logo.Lionsgate (Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.)

John has had a bounty on his head for some time now. After killing someone on Continental grounds (a safe haven for criminals, of sorts), John has been considered “Excommunicado” by the members of The High Table (the most well known crime syndicate in the world) and has a bounty of over $14 million dollars.

In the last film, the manager of the hotel, Winston (Ian McShane), made a deal with one of the leaders of The High Table to kill John Wick in order to reestablish the Continental’s reputation. After all, Winston helped John get a head start when the bounty was placed and that is a big no-no in the criminal community, especially those who are part of The High Table.

Chapter 4 takes place soon after John was shot by Winston and fell off the roof of the Continental. John, however, survives (because, hey, it’s an action movie, and he’s probably Superman in disguise). John is out to find the Elders of The High Table to get the bounty taken off his head. “Even if this means I have to kill everyone and everything to do it,” John says.

But, there’s a new sheriff in town, or at least a new leader of The High Table, the Marquis Vincent De Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), and the Marquis is bent on destroying “the very idea of John Wick, not simply John Wick.”

Death comes for us all. For John Wick, death may just be around the corner…

Oftentimes, secular critics and I are going to disagree on our views of particular films. The films that often receive the most praise by secular critics are the ones that I usually tend to disagree with and vice versa. There are those moments, however, where the critics and I see eye to eye on a film.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is not one of these instances. While it may have a 97% fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it’s definitely not fresh in its moviemaking approach. The story itself doesn’t reveal or add anything new to the franchise. Some aspects, and side quests (and again this is just my opinion) felt out of place to John’s overarching mission: to remove the mark on him. It becomes very apparent, about 30 minutes into the film where the story is going to head (no spoilers I promise).

The film comes in at a whopping two hours and forty-nine minutes. In comparison, that is nine minutes short of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” However, unlike The Lord of the Rings, within this two-hours and forty-nine minutes, there is, in culmination, a total of 20-25 minutes of peace in the film. The rest is just kill after kill after kill, in the most graphic of ways. From stabbings to shooting to beatings to knife fights, nothing is left off the table.

Performance-wise, Keanu Reeves is definitely at the top of his form. He says so much without speaking. You can see the emotional toll, suffering, and just exhaustion on his face. Laurence Fishburne is severely underused in this Chapter, making only a couple appearances in the film, which is truly disheartening as he is such an accomplished actor. The actor that impressed me the most, though, was Ian McShane. His role as the manager is very double-sided, and he brings this out so subtly, yet so enchanting in certain moments of the film. He tries to keep his composure, yet can’t help but feel something, whether it’s for his concierge Charon (sadly, the actor who played the concierge, Lance Riddick, passed away very recently) or his friendship with John. In general, the performances were well done.

Content of Concern

Violence: Extreme. There is so much violence in this film I’m not going to list every instance. In one scene a man is shot while on a horse. A man is shot and executed in another scene. We witness a hotel being demolished. People are shot and killed by arrows in an extended fight sequence (and by extended I mean a 25 minute fight sequence!). Multiple people are shot and killed in this sequence and some are stabbed to death. One person is stabbed multiple times slowly as he crawls up the stairs to get away (he is stabbed in the buttocks, the back and the shoulders). Someone is thrown through glass. People are seen being hit by nunchucks. A dog is seen attacking and killing people multiple times in the film (even biting a dead body). A character is sliced with a samurai sword and killed. A knife goes through someone’s hand and a man pulls his hand through to get the knife out. A priest shoots John with a shotgun. A guy has a noose around his neck, and it is tightened during an interrogation. A man falls from a roof (twice). People are axed to death… A man is beaten unconscious. A man falls from a height, hits his head on concrete and dies. We watch incendiary bullets being shot at people, and the people catching on fire. Someone is kicked down a huge flight of stairs, twice. Two characters are shot multiple times in a duel. Another character dies.

VULGARITY: F*ck (3), F*ck off (1), F*cking (3), M*ther-f*cking (1), Pr*ck (2), B*stard (1), B*tch (1), Nuts (testicles) (1), Sh*t (7), A** (2), and A**hole (3). Sample phrases include: “The motherf*cking king,” “This f*cking place,” “What the f*ck is this?” “Ferocious f*cking fangs,” “Motherf*cker,” “F*ck off,” “You arrogant a**hole”

PROFANITY: H*ll (1) Amen (said mockingly)

SEXUAL CONTENT: Some individuals are make noises and are seen dancing very inappropriately in a couple scenes.

NUDITY: Two paintings include naked people (one in which naked women are being killed). Women wear some very sexually provocative clothing in some scenes.

ALCOHOL: Characters are seen drinking in several scenes throughout the film.

DRUGS: Someone smokes.

OTHER: Someone’s life is gambled on during a game of poker. Characters are seen lying and scheming.

Morals

At one point in the movie, there is a line that John states to his friend at another hotel. His friend asks him something like, “Do you ever wish you could go back to the good life?” John responds, “You and I left the good life a long time ago.”

It brought to my mind that, as a Christian, no matter what mistakes we make, no matter how bad things get, we can always come back to Christ. His arms are always open to a humble, repentant mind and heart and ready to welcome us home.

A prime example is the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told. For those who are unfamiliar with this parable, the prodigal son had everything he could ask for, and he went out from his father’s house with his inheritance and wasted it all; he gambled, he drank, he partied, you name it. He came back to his father’s house, humbled, seeking forgiveness and hoping to be accepted as a servant.

Our Heavenly Father welcomes us back no matter how badly we mess up. He forgives and forgets.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” —Isaiah 55:7

Conclusion

Growing up, one of the things my Principal said was, “Feed them and they will come.” I think about this statement when it comes to films like “Scream VI” which I just reviewed last week and now “John Wick Chapter 4.” Audiences keep flocking to these films and supporting graphic, gratuitous violence. In turn, studios keep producing them and then people wonder why there are so many of these types of films out there. The cycle is endless.

Help break the cycle. Be one of the theater-goers that decides NOT to see “John Wick: Chapter 4.” It’s extremely violent, abhorrently profane, and not for any audience of any kind, especially Christians. Run very far away from this film.

  • Violence: Extreme
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Very Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Profane language: Mild
  • Wokeism: Minor
  • Occult: None

Learn about DISCERNMENT—wisdom in making personal entertainment decisions

cinema tickets. ©  Alexey SmirnovEvery time you buy a movie ticket or buy or rent a video you are in effect casting a vote telling Hollywood, “I’ll pay for that. That’s what I want.” Read our article

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—“John Wick 4” is arguably the best action movie of all time. The fact a movie has nonstop fighting for 3 straight hours and is still HIGHLY reviewed is a testament to how amazing the scenes are. Seriously, there will not be an action movie this good for a long time.

When it comes to the violence, it is a bit extreme. Everyone has their own opinions on violence. The movie does a tremendous job of setting up a stage for war to take place. John Wick at this point in the series is not fighting because he wants to but because he has to. He is the one being hunted. John Wick is a very unique character in that he gives off the vibe he wouldn’t hurt a fly, yet he kills anyone who comes against him. I think it’s something only an actor like Keanu Reeves can pull off.

The killing is intense but is displayed in a very comical and unrealistic sense. In the theater I heard people laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the fighting. I was able to watch the film with my girlfriend and mother, neither have a stomach for violence at all. But the comical nature of the killing made it much easier for them to stomach and actually enjoy. This is because the scenes are well choreographed and beautifully shot. The director wants the audience to enjoy the beautiful art that take place in this movie not be revolted.

Watching this movie I did not find any themes or agendas that offended me as a Christian. I do not think it makes sense to biblically compare the violence to real life. The movie is so ridiculous and unrealistic. My opinion is that Samson was blessed by god and brutally killed many men. Think of what that does to your mind to brutally kill hundreds of men with your physical strength. If God blessed this man in his endeavors, I don’t see a problem with watching a silly fictional movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Mark, age 26 (USA)
Q & A

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

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Secular Movie Critics
…A circus of violence, it’s a noisy, non-stop combination of dance and Loony Tunes-worthy manic cartoonishness. …
Jim Slotek, Original Cin
…Somewhere inside the utterly unnecessary, bloated running time for John Wick IV, there’s a brilliant, stripped-down, 100-minute classic of a drive-in action film, where the admittedly breathtaking action sequences don’t grind on for so long that they actually become borderline tedious. …
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
…overlong and overstuffed… Those who appreciated the original for its brutal, sinewy agility have another thing coming: a lumbering, stultifying gargantua of a film willing to kill everything except its darlings. …confuses bigger for better at a patience-stretching almost three-hour runtime… [2/5]
Charles Bramesco, The Guardian [UK]
…In the 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. …If anything, the film proves that John Wick is doomed to further Marvelization. …[2/4]
Derek Smith, Slant
…Brilliant fights are less than the sum of their punches… “John Wick: Chapter 4,” like its title character, needs to get out of a rut. …
Gregory Lawrence, Consequence of Film
…flabby fourth instalment… whether it’s Skarsgard’s cartoonish villain or the director’s showy nods to Lawrence Of Arabia and Sergio Leone, Chapter 4 plays dress-up rather than feeling like a legitimately rich, involving epic. …
Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
…It’s almost churlish to complain that some of the carnage is too basically carnage-y, but at 169 minutes there’s a lot of it to sit through. That running time might test the casual fan, but for Wick devotees this character’s battle through assassin hell will be close to action-movie heaven. …[3/5]
Olly Richards, Time Out
…relentlessly violent. It just does not stop. It bludgeons you like the endless array of assassins bludgeoning its hero. It is so incessantly, expensively savage, it may well be the end of civilisation. …If you’re not up for a film that’s nearly three hours of wall-to-wall fighting, this chapter might get on your wick. That fighting, though, is a bone-crunching, butt-clenching masterclass. …[3/5]
Alex Godfrey, Empire
…As the picture drifts through its middle acts, the thought occurs that a little less movie might have made a much punchier, pithier and more satisfying film. …
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
…piling on the action to near-exhausting extremes. …
Brian Lowry, CNN
…Clocking in at a severely bloated 165 minutes, Chapter 4 is both a thrill and a slog, an all-you-can-eat buffet that insists on stuffing your guts before it spills them. …
Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)