The newest addition to the “John Wick” action franchise, “John Wick: Chapter 4,” was released on March 24, 2023. The franchise began in 2014 with the release of the original “John Wick,” a simple action film about a man getting revenge for the death of his dog. Since then, the films have evolved into complex stories about a fictitious criminal underworld and the ensuing chaos as Wick attempts to navigate it.
4. “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (2019)
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is the worst John Wick film, but it is still a very solid action movie. The first 40 minutes are an insane fever dream of awesome action. The film’s onset further solidifies Keanu Reeves as a movie star with horse riding and axe throwing. The rest of the movie fails to match up to the adrenaline rush of those moments, but the movie is by no means bad when you have the talents of Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick. The appearance of Halle Berry at the midpoint of the movie is pretty cool too.
3. “John Wick” (2014)
Do not be fooled by the fact that the original “John Wick” is on the bottom half of the list. It is an excellent action film that uses its simple concept and strong execution to its advantage. Reeves, as always, is superb as Wick and the rest of the supporting cast is passable, neither hindering nor elevating the film in any memorable way. Where the film shines is in its action sequences as director Chad Stahelski masterfully balances the line between the action being exciting and followable. Although its story is rather simplistic, the “John Wick” sequels could not have existed without the original as it provided an incredibly solid foundation for the future of the franchise.
2. “John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017)
The first sequel in the “John Wick” franchise directly builds upon the original film with lots of world-building to expand the story of Wick. What sets apart “John Wick: Chapter 2” from the original is the cast, as the film adds Fishburne, Common and Ruby Rose, along with the return of John Leguizamo and McShane, creating an all-star ensemble cast that gives Wick lots of fun characters to play off of. Likewise, the story is more complex and goes deeper into the fascinating criminal underworld of the “John Wick” franchise. Despite Hollywood’s obsession with giving sequels to films that do not deserve them, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is a shining example of a follow-up done right.
1. “John Wick: Chapter 4” (2023)
The newest “John Wick” might be the franchise’s best, which could change in time, but there have never been so many consecutive action set pieces that felt like a nostalgic video game. The film’s additions are awesome with the cowardly antagonist Marchese (played by the creepy Bill Skarsgård) and badass blind man Caine (played by the impeccable Donnie Yen). Reeves, though, is the action star that shines in all of these movies. Even though he only says 380 words the whole movie, his actions speak louder with delightful nunchuck flipping, headshots galore and creative car kills. The world-building takes small steps and some of the side characters receive cool future directions that will no doubt lead to fun spin-offs. “John Wick: Chapter 4” exhilarates, never skipping a beat in its near three-hour runtime. It is definitely one of the best action movies over the last 10 years, with impressive choreography and exciting moments that will be on rewatch many times in the future.