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Critics Hail John Wick: Chapter 4 As An Action Sequel Triumph

The much-anticipated "John Wick: Chapter 4" will hit movie theaters worldwide on March 24, but the review embargo for the Keanu Reeves-led action flick has already lifted, and the vast majority of critics have heaped praise on multiple aspects of the film. The fourth iteration of John Wick's saga holds an 88% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with 26 reviews at the time of writing this article. 

"Chapter 4" is filled with things that happen in every "John Wick" movie, with the most important of those being over-the-top combat sequences happening at a breakneck pace. This time around, director Chad Stahelski has taken viewers on a journey across a number of different locations spread out across three continents. Clocking in at a whopping 162 minutes of runtime, "John Wick: Chapter 4" follows the titular character as he strives to break free from The High Table once and for all. Nearly three hours might seem like an overkill for an action-focused film where the plot plays second fiddle, but as most of the critic reviews suggest, it was a conscious decision on Stahelski's part. 

"Is 'Chapter 4' too long? You bet it is. At moments, it's like an action film as liturgical church service. Yet the movie is conceived as a knowingly overstuffed gift to 'John Wick' fans, and on that level it succeeds," writes Owen Gleiberman for Variety. "It's like Sergio Leone crossed with John Woo as seen in Times Square." 

Reviewers praised the action sequences and consistency throughout the movie's long runtime

One thing that all of the "John Wick: Chapter 4" reviewers highlighted was the fact that the movie is by far the longest in the franchise. They were full of praise for Chad Stahelski's ability to keep viewers engaged for so long while maintaining consistently high quality. IGN's Tom Jorgensen even called it "a modern action masterclass," and gave the movie a rare score of 10/10, noting that "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." 

Writing for BBC Culture, Caryn James praised the visuals and choreography: "Knives, guns, and martial arts come into play, often in lovely, red-tinged light to the sound of glass shattering all around (...) John Wick goes full James Bond, globe-trotting and shooting his way through glamorous cities, with action that is even more spectacularly staged." 

Citing the gripping combat scenes and praising the work of the stunt team, The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Sheck wrote that "'John Wick: Chapter 4' outdoes its predecessors in nearly every respect." This sentiment prevails in other reviews, with Eric Eisenberg writing for CinemaBlend that "there's a strong argument to be made that it's the best of the sequels," and Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell summing it up as "not bad for a series that started out with a hitman avenging his dead puppy."   

Keanu Reeves didn't disappoint

According to most critics, the action in "John Wick: Chapter 4" is so good that it excuses the shortcomings of its plot. At one point in her review for Entertainment Weekly, Leah Greenblatt posed a question: "how does nearly three hours of wham-bam noise and nonsense, unmitigated by any meaningful plot, work as well as it does?" She went on to answer it by pointing toward Keanu Reeves' ability to remain likable despite playing a mass-murdering hitman, writing that there's "something ineffable in Reeves that you can't help but root for."

On The Daily Beast, Nick Schager emphasized how the actor expresses his character without much dialogue: "Letting his stares and homicidal skills do the talking for him, Reeves exudes typically fearsome gravity, purpose, and weariness." In a Sunshine State Cineplex review, Alan French went further, writing, "Reeves shows why he's one of the best genre actors in the world and pours his heart and soul into a soft-spoken performance."

Although he makes all the stunts and fast-paced combat seem easy, Reeves admitted in a recent Fandango interview that "John Wick: Chapter 4" was the "hardest film he's ever done." But, in a typical Keanu fashion, he didn't fail to express his appreciation for the role, despite the difficulties: "John Wick training is extraordinary, I get to work with extraordinary people (...) who are very patient with me."