John Wick: Chapter 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 6/13/23;
Lionsgate;
Action;
Box Office $187.07 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong violence and some language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, Natalia Tena, Ian McShane.

The “John Wick” movies can always be depended upon for an intense thrill ride, and John Wick: Chapter 4 has no trouble sustaining a consistent pace of nearly non-stop action. That’s saying something, considering the film, at 169 minutes, or just shy of three hours, is more than 40 minutes longer than any previous “Wick” film.

On the other hand, that’s a lot of story from the previous films to pay off, and star Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski are damn well going to take the time it takes to bring the story to where they want it to go.

The plot is well engineered to facilitate the action. Wick (Reeves), having been excommunicated from the ultra-elite High Table after the events of the first three films, plots his revenge on the supposedly super-secret organization (which everyone and their mother seems connected to by this point in the series). The Table, in turn, has hired the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård) to eliminate Wick, which sets the tables for more hordes of assassins to futilely attack Wick in hopes of collecting a multi-million-dollar bounty.

To lead the attack, the Marquis sends Caine, played by Donnie Yen as another martial arts master who is blind, which will draw some comparisons to his character in Rogue One. Caine and Wick are old pals, but their grudging respect won’t stop them from eliminating the other for the sake of their mission.

For help, Wick turns to an old buddy in Japan, giving the first half of the film the flavor of a 1970s martial arts flick, with characters trading out guns for swords and arrows, while Wick is pretty handy with a set of nunchucks.

It’s basically like watching a hyperkinetic video game, as Wick must embark on side quests in order to set in place the pieces for a final confrontation with the main boss, the Marquis himself, in order to secure his ultimate freedom and some redemption for his allies.

But everything that came before pales in comparison to an extended action sequence in Paris in which Wick must evade wave after wave of assassins sent to thwart his final encounter with the Marquis. The action spills out into the streets, where the speeding cars themselves become weapons, and heads inside for an inventive bird’s eye view of the hunt through numerous rooms of a building.

The film is long and brutal, which should delight action fans to no end, as viewers will practically feel every blow along with Wick.

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The Blu-ray includes 11 featurettes for a total of 67 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, mostly dealing with the stunts, the action choreography, and the elaborate set designs, which fans should find interesting.

There are also two theatrical trailers and a three-minute action sequence from the upcoming prequel series “The Continental.”

 

Feature ‘Shirley’ Headed to Netflix

The feature film Shirley, about politician Shirley Chisholm, is heading to Netflix.

From Participant and Regina King’s Royal Ties Productions, Shirley portrays the story of the first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for president of the United States. The film will tell the story of Chisholm’s boundary-breaking and historic presidential campaign, based on exclusive and extensive conversations with family, friends and those who knew her best.

King will star as Chisholm in the film.

In addition to King (The Harder They Fall), the film stars Lance Reddick (“John Wick” series), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Christina Jackson (“Swagger”), Michael Cherrie (Home Again), Dorian Missick (“For Life”), Amirah Vann (“Underground”), W. Earl Brown (“Deadwood”), with André Holland (Passing) and Terrence Howard (“Empire”).

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(L-R): Shirley stars Christina Jackson, Lance Reddick and Amirah Vann

Angel Has Fallen

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Lionsgate;
Action;
Box Office $69.03 million;
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language throughout.
Stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston.

The unassuming “Fallen” action franchise becomes a trilogy in Angel Has Fallen, which continues the adventures of Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, the secret service agent who thwarts a massive conspiracy against the American presidency every few years.

After stopping terrorist takeovers of the White House in 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, and an attack on world leaders in London in 2016’s London Has Fallen, Banning finds himself framed for an assassination attempt that leaves President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) in a coma and the vice president (Tim Blake Nelson) threatening war with Russia.

Taking on a bit of the flavor of The Fugitive, the plot has Banning under pursuit by a diligent FBI agent (Jada Pinkett Smith), so he goes off the grid and enlists the help of his estranged father, a kooky doomsday prepper living in a rustic cabin in the backwoods of West Virginia. Nick Nolte steals the movie as Mike’s dad, committing full tilt to the role of the crazy-eyed former soldier with no trust of government or technology (Nolte in the bonus materials discusses growing his beard out for a full year to prepare for the part).

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The film offers some decent action sequences in service of a mystery plot that is easy to predict a mile away, despite the film’s efforts to obfuscate the inevitable with the early reveal of an obvious middle-man. The screenplay also sidesteps the 25th Amendment to further its plot mechanics, which could prove to be a minor annoyance to viewers to politically savvy viewers. But there’s really only so much brainpower a movie like this can be expected to deploy.

The Blu-ray includes six behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 70 total minutes. These cover pretty much all the aspects of the production, from the casting to the stunts to re-creating Washington, D.C., and rural Virginia in England and Bulgaria.

Director Ric Roman Waugh also offers an eight-and-a-half-minute mini-commentary for three scenes in the film, including the drone attack on Trumbull and a lengthy truck chase, plus a humorous post-credits scene.

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Actioner ‘Angel Has Fallen’ Arrives on Digital Nov. 12, Disc — Including 4K— Nov. 26 From Lionsgate

The actioner Angel Has Fallen will come out on digital Nov. 12 and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand Nov. 26 from Lionsgate.

The film stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte and Danny Huston.

When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm, and save the country from imminent danger.

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Special features include six making-of featurettes and a three-part audio commentary with director Ric Roman Waugh.

The 4K release includes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.