Cinema Picks of the Week: John Wick Spills Blood Once More – Check out the Action

It’s actually crazy: A couple of gangsters kill a small dog, and then it becomes a multi-part action cinema series that grossed almost 600 million US dollars. It’s been nine years since Keanu Reeves’ spectacular debut as John Wick. Today, hardly anyone – at least among the fans – asks how it all started or whether all the bloody revenge is proportionate. John Wick is cult, perhaps the greatest action hero of our time. And his unbridled anger still hasn’t dried up. “John Wick – Chapter 4” is now in cinemas.

Also new in the cinema: Lars Kraume looks at the inglorious German colonial history with “The Man Measured”, while John Malkovich, as the main actor in Robert Schwentke’s “Seneca”, philosophizes about life and death.

John Wick – Chapter 4

“If you step foot back into this swamp now, you could wake up to something that grabs you and pulls you back in”: These admonishing words were given to former assassin John Wick in the first film by his old companion Winston (Ian McShane). given on the way, and in retrospect they prove to be downright prophetic. Someone once did a count: If you add up the three previous “John Wick” films, the “Kill Count” is 299. And that’s despite the fact that John Wick originally wanted nothing more than peace and quiet.

The thirst for revenge, for satisfaction, for the double and triple settlement of unpaid scores – it continues to be stronger than any of the protagonist’s desire for peace. Dog lover and car enthusiast John Wick wants to defeat the “Hohe Kammer” once and for all, which he has been grappling with since film two, and in the process he has to deal with a powerful new adversary, the Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård, “Es “). But before he faces him, he must first eliminate many other small and large opponents in his very own peace mission between New York and Paris. 300, 301, 302…

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The excessive bloodshed, the violence that is supposedly portrayed as “cool”: The basic idea of ​​the “John Wick” series has been repeatedly criticized over the years. With “Chapter 4” (screenplay: Shay Hatten, Michael Finch), director Chad Stahelski remains on the course he took in 2014 with the first film. Casual sayings, breathtaking chases in front of picturesque backdrops, thrillingly choreographed fight scenes and lots and lots of lead in the air. “John Wick – Chapter 4” once again sets standards as a neo-noir action film and, like the last films, has already received a lot of critical acclaim.

Along with cuddly dogs and Wick’s iconic Ford Mustang, some familiar faces are returning to the big screen in the fourth John Wick film, which will soon be followed by a spin-off starring Ana da Armas (“Ballerina”). Ian McShane (“Winston”) is back, as is Keanu Reeves’ old “Matrix” colleague Laurence Fishburne (“Bowery King”). In addition, Lance Reddick, one of the popular figures in previous films, can be seen for the last time as the hotelier “Charon”. Reddick passed away shortly before the release of “John Wick: Chapter 4” at the age of 60.

The presumptuous man

Dark moments of German history, processed on the big screen: It’s mostly about National Socialism, rarely – as recently indirectly with “Nothing New in the West” – about the First World War. Lars Kraume goes back even further in his new film, his subject in “The Measured Man” is German colonial policy around 1900 in connection with the racial theory that was already widespread at the time. An exciting, but also extremely uncomfortable look into the past.

“Are there inferior races?” a young ethnologist types into his typewriter. Many people would have taken this question as a rhetorical one in the early 20th century, especially representatives of science. At that time it was a widespread conviction that the European man was intellectually and culturally clearly superior to the African “Bushman”. Skulls were measured and compared, and all sorts of conclusions drawn to support racial theories.

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But said young ethnologist Alexander Hoffmann (Leonard Scheicher) has his doubts. His professor Josef Ritter von Waldstätten (Peter Simonischek, “Toni Erdmann”) provided him with his own “example” for investigation, a young woman (Girley Charlene Jazama) in whom Hoffmann found nothing inferior. Then he will be sent to German South West Africa as part of a researcher delegation. Hoffmann is supposed to get more “material” for research purposes, at the same time he gets to know and understand the Herero and Nama peoples better and better.

Hoffmann’s stay in Africa ended up being disastrous, and some might still remember the “Herero uprising” from history class. The term “place in the sun” also comes from that dark historical epoch, which the German Empire wanted to secure alongside the great colonial powers such as the British Empire. “A place in the sun” is what screenwriter and director Lars Kraume (“The Silent Classroom”) originally wanted to call his new film. He finally decided on the ambiguous title “The Measured Man”. That probably hits the core of this story, which is creepy on many levels, much better.


“No one has so exalted fate that it has not shown itself in its menacing form as often as in its favor. Do not trust this stillness: a moment is enough to stir up the sea.” – This is how Seneca the Younger spoke in his “Letters to Lucilius” about death, which could afflict anyone at any time and anywhere. Great rulers as well as great thinkers, the story of Seneca itself has shown it in a memorable way. In 65 AD, the philosopher took his own life at the behest of Emperor Nero. Robert Schwentke tells of Seneca’s last days in a tragic comedy with a star cast.

Schwentke has been well connected in the international film world for many years. His credits include the drama The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, and the action comedy RED (2010), starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. For “Seneca” the director and author once again worked with the character head Malkovich, who doesn’t need more than a toga anyway to look like an old Roman spirit; the list of actors also includes Louis Hofmann (“Dark”), Lilith Stangenberg, Samuel Finzi and Geraldine Chaplin. Schwentke stages his Seneca with fatalistic wit, but also portrays him as a contradictory personality.

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Seneca is best known today as a philosopher, but he was also a statesman. A gifted senator, Seneca became one of the most powerful and wealthy men in ancient Rome. In addition, and this is also always emphasized in today’s mentions of Seneca, he was also the teacher of Nero, one of the most notorious rulers in Roman history.

Seneca (Malkovich) tries to give Nero (Tom Xander) the most important virtues since his birth in order to make him a better person. But while the old man preaches about mildness, restraint and renunciation, the boy dreams of extravagant celebrations and playing off his power. At some point Nero will have had enough of the old nuisance Seneca. He snaps at his mentor in the film to “shut up.” Later he has his death sentence delivered to him: Seneca has until the next morning to kill himself.

Seneca was a follower of the Stoa (hence the current term “stoic”), and so it was part of his basic philosophical understanding to accept death himself without batting an eyelash – you can’t prevent it anyway. In the face of his approaching end, the sharp-tongued speaker in the film is once again in great form. But the matter doesn’t leave him completely cold. As a thinker, when should he ask himself the really big questions if not now?

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