The teaser trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4 has a ridiculous moment that highlights a franchise problem. The fourth installment of the John Wick franchise will undoubtedly serve as another showcase for John Wick’s martial arts skills as he wages war against the High Table. A number of accomplished martial artists like Scott Adkins and Donnie Yen are slated to make appearances, which only makes the movie’s potential even more tantalizing.
Donnie Yen’s character makes a couple of appearances in the John Wick 4 teaser, and at one point he is shown squaring off against John Wick. They unload their pistols at each other from very close range as John Wick takes cover behind his “tactical” suit jacket. Donnie Yen’s character then closes the distance while deflecting several bullets with his sword. The tease within a tease reveals John Wick’s biggest personal issue, considering Donnie Yen’s character is described as one of John’s old friends.
The not-so-friendly interaction between John Wick and Donnie Yen’s character also reveals something broader about the John Wick franchise itself. As the John Wick franchise continues to grow, each movie has to one-up the previous installment. That way, people feel like they’re seeing something new and better. However, Donnie Yen deflecting bullets with a sword signals a shift into the ridiculous for the John Wick franchise. It’s a problem that has only been exacerbated because of what past John Wick movies have accomplished.
It’s understandable if it feels like there are increasingly fewer ways for the John Wick franchise to blow people’s minds. Perhaps John Wick reviving a forgotten action trend would help keep things fresh. Really though, getting bigger and better is a problem that every movie franchise must deal with. Sometimes it works out like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Other times, it becomes a running joke like the suspiciously durable heroes in Fast & Furious. The John Wick 4 teaser is a worrying sign that future John Wick movies may skew more toward the latter than the former.
Donnie Yen expertly deflecting bullets with a sword in the John Wick 4 teaser is ridiculous: it’s from action hero to outright superhero. To make matters worse, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ends with an already vulnerable John Wick miraculously surviving after getting shot and falling off a high-rise building. That by itself requires a suspension of disbelief that is dubious even by John Wick action standards. This is a bit of a self-made problem because John Wick started things off on such a high note. Each installment has outdone its predecessor to the degree that by the fourth movie, the franchise is already crossing the line from barely plausible to literally impossible.
John Wick isn’t jumping the shark; the franchise is too critically and commercially successful. However, the John Wick 4 teaser shows the franchise is changing, and it could be a looming problem. While there are still plenty of stories to explore, like John Wick‘s unrevealed High Table members, none of it will matter if John Wick: Chapter 4 squanders the goodwill it has acquired through relatively grounded, genre-elevating action.
More: John Wick 4’s Big Franchise First Confirms The Series’ Action Problem