Keanu Reeves in a still from John Wick: Chapter 4. (courtesy: YouTube)Cast: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins and Ian McShaneDirector: Chad StahelskiRating: Three and a half stars (out of 5)Zippy might not sound like the right adjective for a nearly three-hour movie, but John Wick: Chapter 4, fuelled by a marvellous screenplay and a clutch of fine performances, comes pretty close to being the most fun that a film of this sort of length has been in recent years. It packs a massive punch.John Wick: Chapter 4, directed by Chad Stahelski from a script by Shay Hatten and Michael Finch, is a fittingly flamboyant and fast-paced franchise finale that is bound to whet our appetite for the spinoffs that are reportedly in the offing.It banks upon relentless action and stunning stunts to ensure that it never hits a dull patch. The camerawork by cinematographer Dan Laustsen, fabulously fluid, is a key cog in a film that thrives on manic momentum and movement.The stoic demeanour and stony visage of Keanu Reeves as the titular hitman with an ever-increasing price on his head sit well on this elegantly executed, viscerally violent thriller in which the pugnacious protagonist takes on a ruthless and ambitious villain who draws his power from his network of international links and will let nobody pose a challenge to him.Marquis Vincent de Gramont (a terrifically chilling Bill Skarsgard) wants John Wick dead. He makes his intentions clear early in the film. He punishes Winston Scott (Ian McShane), manager of the New York Continental Hotel, by stripping him of his responsibilities and summarily killing latter’s friend and hotel concierge Charon (Lance Reddick in one of his final screen roles).At one point in the film, the bad guy asserts that he isn’t out to eliminate John Wick but to “kill the idea of John Wick”. I will destroy “everyone the idea has touched”, he says. The Harbinger (Clancy Brown), the High Table functionary who lays down the ground rules for a fight to the finish in keeping with the old ways, reminds Marquis de Gramont: “A man’s ambition should not exceed his worth.” The latter recognises no such limits either to his ambition or his worth.The first major burst of action in the film occurs at the Osaka Continental, where manager Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada) has allowed John Wick to hide. Like every fight sequence in JW4, this one is long drawn-out and bloody. It sees the active participation of the blind assassin Caine (Donnie Yen), Koji’s daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama) and Marquis de Gramont’s right hand man Chidi (Marko Zaror).These twenty-odd minutes of heady action serve to not only set the tone for the rest of the film but they also give the tale the sort of heft that sends expectations soaring. That John Wick: Chapter 4 never falls short of what the audience anticipates is a genuine marvel.The fourth entry in the franchise has plenty of fuel in the tank. In what has got to be a rarity, it outstrips anything that has gone before and we aren’t talking length here. The film hits the ground running and never slows down.In an era marked by a preponderance of Hollywood superhero films that have rendered genuine action heroes redundant, John Wick: Chapter 4 is an unabashedly old-school, full-blooded actioner that creates space for a reinvention of the genre in many significant ways.As the excommunicated John Wick travels across the world – from New York to Osaka, Paris and Berlin – and constantly fights off adversaries and friends-turned-foes in his bid to wrest back his freedom from the High Table, the lead actor’s sturdy cloak of unflappability accentuates the high-octane film’s galvanic energy.The insanely entertaining John Wick: Chapter 4 is replete with elaborately choreographed action sequences, dizzyingly kinetic shootouts and chases and boundlessly vibrant set pieces that come together in a way so miraculous that it makes everything look absolutely and consistently worthwhile even when one tends to wonder if a tighter edit might have been in order.Especially impressive is the wonderfully written climax staged in front of the Sacre-Couer Basilica in Paris, a superb final act that is potent and smart. Stahelski, who has helmed all four films of the franchise, knows the dynamics inside out. He makes the most of the resources at his disposal – and then some.John Wick: Chapter 4 scrimps on nothing – not on ambition, not on technical flair and definitely not on firepower – and delivers one of the best action films in years. It is riveting and pulse-pounding all the way.As Marquis de Gramont puts it, echoing his father’s advice to him, “how you do anything is how you do everything”. The film believes wholeheartedly in that axiom and packs all it can into every moment, every frame and every prolonged action sequence.Keanu Reeves’s imposing, self-possessed presence is the movie’s primary propellent. He is ably supported by Donnie Yen in the guise of the blind High Table assassin Caine, who is forced to hunt for John Wick by Marquis de Gramont, and Shamier Anderson as the mercenary Tracker/Mr Nobody, who is on the John’s trail in the company of his ferocious and fiercely loyal German Shepherd.The verbal sparring between the laconic John Wick and his more voluble enemies lends wit and humour to the proceedings and keeps pace with the explosive, intense action that propels the film from beginning to end. None of the wars of words is as wonderfully well written as the one that pits Wick against the poker-loving Killa, played by British martial artiste Scott Adkins in a fat suit.John Wick: Chapter 4 is an electrifying entertainer with dashes of emotion and philosophy that do not feel a whit out of place amid all the adrenaline rush that the film rides on. For lovers of action flicks, this is a true-blue bonanza.