Each Wick pic has burned brighter at the box office than the previous entry and the trend looks to continue as John Wick: Chapter 4 is unleashed on March 24th. Keanu Reeves is back in the title role with Chad Stahelski returning to direct. The supporting players are a mix of familiar franchise faces and newcomers including Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rino Sawayama, Ian McShane, and Laurence Fishburne.
In the fall of 2014, the first Wick was a modest success when it debuted with $14 million and $43 million domestic overall. Those numbers seem meager now, but they were better than anticipated and more fans were gained when it hit the home viewing circuit. The 2017 sequel took in $30 million out of the gate with $92 million total. In 2019, Chapter 3 – Parabellum soared to a $56 million premiere with $171 million in the stateside bank.
At nearly three hours long, Chapter 4 is generating some of the strongest reviews of the series. With 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are particularly praising the choreography of its wild action sequences. That should get plenty of genre fans out to the multiplexes. Like Creed III, look for this to score a series high opening with room to spare. I’m thinking mid 60s to possibly $70 million is achievable.
John Wick: Chapter 4 opening weekend prediction: $69.1 million
The Best Picture lineup for the just aired Academy Awards was 20% sequel with Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in contention. We also had Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery up in key contests. So is it crazy to think John Wick: Chapter 4 could find its way into the Oscar conversation a little less than a year from now? Yeah, it might be.
Or maybe not. The fourth heaping of ultra-violence starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Chad Stahelski stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes prior to its March 24th domestic bow. That exactly matches the scores of predecessors Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 – Parabellum and exceeds the original’s 86%.
Yet many of the reviews are calling #4 the best of the wild bunch. The nearly three hour opus is being specifically singled out for its production design and cinematography. I could certainly see Film Twitter mounting a campaign for this acclaimed franchise to finally get some love from the tech branches. It’s unlikely to occur, but not impossible. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum brings us back into the franchise where the forecast is usually stylishly rainy and dripping with violence. There’s a 100% chance of Keanu Reeves finding creative ways to kill people. Our third iteration does what you expect from a sequel. It increases the action so Mr. Wick fights more. His poor dog met an unfortunate end in Chapter 1 that kicked all of this off. In Parabellum, dogs don’t die. They fight too.
Just as part 2 picked up immediately after its predecessor, this does as well. As you’ll recall, our title character has been excommunicated by the High Table, the organization that governs the unlimited supply of assassins that populate New York City and beyond. He’s a marked man with a $14 million bounty on his head and a dwindling supply of markers causing people to help him. Those individuals include Oscar winning women like Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston.
Wick can no longer have a safe space in the Continental Hotel, managed by Winston (Ian McShane) and his trusty concierge (Lance Reddick). That place provided many highlights in the first two pictures, but our man branches out here. After an excursion to Rome in #2, Wick’s passport gets him to Casablanca here. That’s where he teams with Berry and does a Clark Griswold style desert journey that does give him a respite from the cool looking rain.
Calling the shots is the Adjudicator (an effective Asia Kate Dillon). She’s in charge of punishing the folks who’ve helped Wick out in the past. This includes Winston and the returning Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne, still having a ball). Our head henchman who wants the collect the Wick murder money is Zero (Mark Dacascos) and his character is quite fun. He may have a task to complete, but he’s also a total fanboy of the legend he’s hunting. Their interplay is an added bonus.
Parabellum is ultimately about how well the action scenes work. Director Chad Stahelski and Reeves once again dig deep into their bag of martial arts inspired tricks. And a decent sized portion of the fight sequences are downright thrilling. Perhaps this series will eventually run of gas and the choreography of Reeves in sadistic motion delivering headshots won’t be as satisfying. Not yet.
Blogger’s Note (05/15): My estimate has risen from $37.8 million to $45.8 million
Keanu Reeves is back in theaters next weekend as America’s favorite dog loving hitman when JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum debuts. The action thriller hopes to build upon the momentum of 2017’s highly successful sequel. Chad Stahelski returns as director with familiar series faces including Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, and John Leguizamo. New stars in our third edition include Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, and Anjelica Huston.
Mr. Reeves found himself in an unexpected new franchise five years ago when JohnWick opened to $14 million with a $43 million overall domestic gross. While that might not seem like enough to automatically warrant a follow-up, the pic achieved critical kudos and cult status when it arrived on demand. Three years later, Chapter2 made $30 million for its start and $92 million total.
Parabellum has a solid shot at topping the opening weekend of its predecessor, which also garnered glowing reviews. I’ll say mid to high 30s is where this ends up.
JohnWick: Chapter3 – Parabellum opening weekend prediction: $45.8 million
Unlike its surprise hit predecessor, no animals are harmed in the duration of John Wick: Chapter 2. However, dozens and dozens of other miscellaneous henchmen are. Especially their heads, which is a specialty of our title character to turn them into squib fodder.
2014’s John Wick gave our retired assassin (Keanu Reeves) a decent reason to use his killing skills. His dying wife gave him a dog as a gift and bad guys disposed of it (they also stole his sweet ride). This led to a shoot-em-up extravaganza that served as a comeback role for Reeves and one of the more distinctive action titles in a while. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch fashioned an ultra stylish, ultra violent, and occasionally ultra inventive experience. The first Wick burned with an intense, brooding and often humorous showcase for its star. Yet it also began building a world gleefully not grounded anywhere in reality that let the creative juices of screenwriter Derek Kolstad run free. This was especially evident in scenes at The Continental Hotel in New York City, a fancy establishment reserved for nefarious types who make their living from offing others.
It was time spent at that hotel that gave John Wick an air of something new and creative and it turns out there’s a Continental in Rome as well. That’s where the majority of the carnage here takes place. The sequel picks up right after the events of the original as Wick wraps up his business from the previous outing. He’s ready to go back to retirement with his new unnamed canine companion when an Italian baddie (Riccardo Scamarcio) visits his home. It turns out Wick made a deal with him some time ago to accept any job with no questions asked. Our villain’s task is to kill his sister so he can elevate his crime boss status and that brings Wick to Rome with an arsenal.
What follows is a lot of what we saw in the original – grandly choreographed sequences in which Wick uses his talents. This could run the risk of becoming redundant. There’s only so many ways of killing villains, but I’ll be damned if Wick doesn’t find some fascinating ways to do it. Still, it’s the little touches that make chapters 1 and 2 special from time to time.
For instance, I love the idea of an old school telephone company setting where the women working in the office look like goth versions of tellers from the 1950s. Their job is to pass along information when a hit is ordered (of which John is certainly subject to). I found myself interested in all the rules that the film’s enormous supply of assassins must abide by and the hints of larger syndicates. Some of those new professionals include Common (whose fights scenes with Wick are a highlight) and Ruby Rose as a mute vixen who hurls insults through sign language. Laurence Fishburne pops up as an underground (literally) crime leader whose group will probably play a larger role in the inevitable sequel.
While Wick’s motivations in this chapter aren’t quite as rage inducing as his departed pup, Chapter 2 recognizes the unique qualities that put chapter 1 above your typical genre material. Thankfully it keeps it at a level where I’m curious what the next chapter brings beyond the limitless supply of mercenaries whose cranial areas will be irreparably harmed.
In the fall of 2014, stylish action thriller John Wick exceeded box office expectations with it earned $14 million in its opening weekend and $43 million overall domestically. Since then, its cult status has grown and now Chapter 2 unfolds in theaters next weekend. Keanu Reeves returns in the title role and Chad Stahelski is back behind the camera. The sequel reunites Keanu with his Matrix costar Laurence Fishburne. Other supporting cast includes Common, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Ruby Rose (appearing in her third 2017 pic after January’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter).
Wick is debuting alongside two other sequels and spin-offs in the second weekend of February as The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker also premiere. There’s little doubt that this will place third among them, but I still look for it to eclipse the opening number of its predecessor.
I’ll forecast that Chapter 2 manages a high teens to low 20s rollout.
John Wick: Chapter 2 opening weekend prediction: $20.7 million
For my The Lego Batman Movie prediction, click here:
The title character of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) strikes petrification in the minds of those who hear his name. He’s like Keyser Soze, but everyone knows he’s real. And he’s really pissed off in a picture that comes by way of stunt coordinators David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, making their directorial debuts after working with Neo himself during the Matrix trilogy.
Wick is a former hitman whose achieved legendary status. In our opening, he’s gone straight with a lovely spouse (Bridget Moynahan) who dies within the first couple of minutes. She, unlike every other character here and there’s many, does not die violently. And it is not the circumstances of her passing that zap Wick back into killing mode. Rather it’s the slaying of his late wife’s final gift to him: an adorable dog. This is our first signal that this film is not going to follow all the typical cliches of most revenge fantasies.
The pooch tragedy occurs at the hands of the spoiled son (Alfie Allen) of a Russian gang lord (an effective Michael Nyqvist) who’s worked with Wick in his glory days. The clueless son is just trying to steal Wick’s sweet ride and has no other idea who he’s up against. He shall soon discover.
What follows is a visually impactful symphony of bloody action set pieces that gives Reeves his first quality B movie material in some time. John Wick is a mix of martial arts, anime, and plain old ultra violence that is a loopy treat for most of its length.
The most memorable sequences occur at The Continental, a seriously cool underground hotel that serves as a hangout for criminals where anything goes. This picture has no more interest in realism than The Matrix and the scenes in this hotel allow the directors and screenwriter Derek Kolstad their best opportunities to let their creative juices fly. At this point in the proceedings, the atmosphere and creativity in the blood soaked battles feels fresh and alive.
By the third act, John Wick gets a bit more routine with its violent moments. Yet there’s enough here for genre fans to soak in. We have a comeback role of sorts here for Reeves. No longer looking younger than he is, he brings a rugged and menacing persona as Wick that we haven’t witnessed from him before. It suits him well. Other familiar faces popping up include Willem Dafoe as a fellow hitman and Ian McShane as The Continental’s owner.
There is one animal harmed in John Wick and a whole bunch of humans end up paying for it. The fact that it’s a really cute puppy makes it a tad more understandable. It’s mostly worth it because this film announces two new directors that hold promise. One wonders what they’re capable of when given the chance to really let their imaginations run wild.