“A new day is dawning,” new John Wick villain Marquis de Gramont, played by Bill Skarsgård, says in the John Wick: Chapter 4 trailer. “New ideas, new rules, new management.”
That’s true in many ways. The latest installment in the so-far excellent series, led by Keanu Reeves as a taciturn, aggrieved assassin, is the first that won’t be at least partly written by John Wick creator Derek Kolstad. This universe is deeply personal to Kolstad, who named the character after his grandfather.
What difference does a writer make in a movie where the main character has so little dialogue? Consider, if you will, that the whole John Wick ethos — the drip-drip-drip world-building, the stripped to the essentials plot, the character-building without the crutch of long expository speeches — represents the best of screenwriting. It will be interesting to see what the franchise will do without him. (The writers this time are Shay Hatten, part of the team on John Wick 3: Parabellum, and Michael Finch, best known for 2010’s Predators.)
One of the best parts of the John Wick series is its rules: For example, no killing in The Continental, the hotel for assassins where they can finally find some occasional peace. The film is also bound by a series of rules around The High Table, the council of crime lords who oversee the world’s most powerful illicit operations. The new story offers Wick a way to escape the High Table’s wrath, by facing off with de Gramont at dawn. Just one of those “new rules.”
Of course, if you don’t like John Wick movies for the subtlety and understatement — and I sincerely do! — you might be perfectly thrilled with the unsubtle, explosive things happening all over the trailer, like sword-and-gun fights, dogs attacking people, battles on horseback, and all the usual shenanigans.
We’ll also get the return of Laurence Fishburne as John’s old friend The Bowery King, and Ian McShane will return as his loyal frenemy Winston. (McShane and Reeves will also, it was recently reported, appear in the spinoff The Ballerina, starring Ana de Armas as another wronged assassin.
Perhaps most importantly, Chad Stahelski, the top-notch former stuntman who has directed all three of the previous films, is back to do it again in Chapter 4. So at least the fights will be great, even if the rules governing them have changed.
John Wick: Chapter 4 arrives in theaters March 24, 2023.