Review: Something ‘Wick’ returns.

At the close of a recent press screening of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” the audience groused and gasped, followed by a woman's spontaneous yell of encouragement: “C'mon, Johnny, you got this!”

He does, but you wonder. John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves as the not-so-retired assassin, has spent about two hours falling from dangerous heights and being tossed around by fast-moving vehicles.

That's when he's not punching, kicking, stabbing, and shooting phalanxes of armed assailants. Like a distressed video-game avatar reaching the big bang conclusion, 

He faces an uphill trek and smackdowns that will make Sisyphus and Wile E. Coyote grunt in sympathy. The only logical answer is to laugh, but even the deathly serious John Wick wouldn't have the stamina.

“John Wick: Chapter 4,” for better or worse, exhausts him. It's the saga's latest and longest installment (169 minutes), directed by stuntman turned filmmaker Chad Stahelski. 

 While further chapters and offshoots may await, this one makes a major statement.

As enjoyable as it is, its maximalist showmanship sometimes clash with the first film's clean, humorous economy. 

The first “John Wick” was a modest 2014 blockbuster that pitted a grieving ex-hit guy against Russian mobsters who killed his puppy and proceeded from one wonderfully crafted action sequence to the next. 

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