starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne
written by Shay Hatten and Michael Finch
directed by Chad Stahelski
by Walter Chaw The John Wick franchise is two things: a fantasy world with rules and consequences for breaking them, and a series of films crafted with extraordinary care and meticulous attention to detail. Both qualities are front and centre in John Wick: Chapter 4 (hereafter John Wick 4), the one allowing the other to be emotionally satisfying, the other allowing the one to be viscerally pleasing. The toast given when its characters drink is literally "Consequences!"--and, of course, our hero always shows up in an impeccably tailored bulletproof suit, 42-Regular. Given that the delicate surface tension of our society's maintenance relies on the decorum of its members, and given the last few years of seeing it all fall to shit before a treasonous wave of deplorables, this franchise is a glossy distillation of an American's dream of justice as the offshoot of morality rather than the promise of it providing smoke for cupidity. There's order in the world; you just aren't allowed to see it. It makes sense in this way that, for all their neo-noir trappings, the John Wick movies are traditional westerns: the great American genre employed to tell the myth of the United States. And it makes sense the eidolon for the better angels of Generation X is the eternally sweet Keanu Reeves, who, even when he's promising to kill everyone like a seen-it-all Sam Peckinpah mercenary, is only doing it because his dog died. Both he and John Wick are essentially simple in a complex world.