John Wick 4 Runtime Makes It The Longest John Wick Ever — And That's a Good Thing
The more time spent with the Baba Yaga, the better.
The first John Wick was a perfectly plotted movie that came in at a tight 1 hour and 36 minutes, a rarity in today’s increasingly overlong blockbuster landscape. But as the world of Wick expanded, so did its runtimes: Chapter 2 clocked in at 2 hours, 2 minutes, and Chapter 3 was a hefty 2 hours, 11 minutes. Now the recently-released Chapter 4 comes in at the longest of them all: a whopping 2 hours and 49 minutes.
Who would want to spend nearly three hours watching Keanu Reeves’ assassin make headshot after headshot? All of us should, and here’s why.
Minor spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 4 follow.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is one of the rare blockbusters that makes the most of its massive runtime. That’s because compared to other blockbuster movies where the action is supplementary to the story — think Marvel movies where the setpieces are basically there to pad the time — each mind-blowing setpiece is essential to Chapter 4.
One of the best aspects of the Wick movies is how they’ve consistently foregrounded the action, due in part to director Chad Stahelski’s background as a stunt coordinator and Keanu Reeves’ particular skill as a performer who works best through physicality. Reeves has a Buster Keaton-like instinct that makes him the ideal star for the movies’ signature long takes and steady wide shots that showcase the intricate fight choreography and stunts. It’s no wonder that the films actively pay homage to Buster Keaton in both their marketing and in sly Easter eggs, and John Wick: Chapter 4 takes these aspects to the next level.
Boasting the simplest narrative outside of the first film — John Wick has to duel the High Table’s new frontman, the Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), to get rid of the price on his head — Chapter 4 is almost entirely focused on the action. The intricate worldbuilding of the second and third films is secondary to the astonishing setpieces that come barrelling by. An attempt to trap John Wick at the Osaka Continental with an army of armed assassins becomes a neon-lit descent through hell. A fight for his life through a derelict apartment becomes a jaw-dropping long-take sequence in which John becomes increasingly fatigued as the camera dips in and out on a crane. Keanu Reeves rolls down a flight of stairs for two minutes straight, in a riveting feat of Sisyphean storytelling.
Unlike many contemporary action movies (again, namely your Marvel films) where the plot and the action are largely separate, the plot exclusively plays out in the action in John Wick: Chapter 4. You can’t miss a moment of those headshots because you’d be missing the best parts of the movie. The extended sequences of John Wick falling down stairs and getting hit by cars, or the long-take that ends only to become another long-take, may make the movie long as hell, but it’s worth it.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is playing in theaters now.