SMART MOVIE REVIEW: Latest ‘John Wick’ film gives more of what we love

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

By Ian Omar Smart | Guest Columnist

Now playing at the B&B theater inside the Vicksburg Mall, Keanu Reeves returns as the titular assassin; giving us more of what we love about this film series.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” manages to up the stakes with some of the most thrilling action filmmaking of this decade so far.

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 The “John Wick” series really contradicts the saying, “Too much of a good thing.” Not only does this series keep giving you more and more, but they also somehow differentiate the feats found in them to a degree that seems almost impossible.

And just as a set piece becomes repetitive, the films always reinvent the segment in a brand new way. Reeves brings his bonafides allowing us to completely buy into the ludicrous premise, and the entire supporting cast props up this world with genuine pathos and a palpable sense of fun. These movies are a minor miracle, in that they’re both overwhelming but increasingly impressive.

Reeves continues to shine as Wick, exuding intensity and sensitivity without having much dialogue. In the hands of a lesser performer, Wick would read as cold and unknowable, but Reeves’s complete control of his impression as an actor allows him to do all the work of implying history and respect through a gesture or a subtle expression.

Reeves’ co-stars get to be the bombastic cartoon characters. Donnie Yen arrives as a compelling hitman of Wick’s caliber, while Scott Adkins arrives as a hilariously rendered mob boss that would feel more at home in an episode of “Batman: The Animated Series.” There are murderous Catholic priests, ninjas and samurai, and a cocky Canadian assassin; but none of it feels out of place.

Director Chad Stahelski’s extraordinary direction balances all these conflicting beats and aesthetics into something singularly bizarre. Several times while watching “JW4,” I felt the kind of oddball touches that made the “Matrix” films so singular (where Stahelski and Reeves met).

Leaning into the strangeness while remaining accessible feels directly lifted from the Wachowski world; where everyone involved is super familiar.

Regardless of how ridiculous these movies end up being, they maintain their power by never half-doing execution.  The key players are all working at their highest level at this point, and we’re all lucky to be living in a time where John Wick gets to grace our screens. One of the best action films of recent years.

Ian Omar Smart is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University with a degree in architecture. When he’s not drawing buildings, he’s probably at the movies. Smart can be contacted at