There’s something to admire about filmmakers who make B-movies or populist genre fare yet infuse them with a depth and gravity that others tend to avoid. For all the legitimate criticisms one could make of the M. Night Shyamalans and Zack Snyders of the world, their willingness to use ridiculous horror concepts and things as innately silly as superheroes to deliver poignant messages and shockingly personal stories to the masses is easily their greatest strength. For similar reasons, Chad Stahelski and his creative team are to be commended for constantly trying to outdo themselves as artists with every passing “John Wick” sequel — not least of all at a time when so many other Hollywood tentpoles seem content with “Eh, good enough” as the quality bar for their sense of craft.

Here’s how Stahelski describes their approach:

“I think with all my crew, we have this little mantra of, ‘If it’s not beautiful, why are we doing it?’ I consider myself very much a craftsman, and my crew are craftsmen, with the dream of becoming an artist. We’re very good at what we do technically, but it’s the translation of what we do into that next level that becomes artistry. So we just figured, ‘Well, why not? We might as well try to be artists, and given enough practice and the right amount of time and the right opportunity, maybe we will one day do something that’s worthy of that.'”

That added effort very much shows in the “John Wick” movies. There’s a reason why the property only seems to get bolder and more daring with every new installment, both in terms of their aesthetics and narrative. Would that other franchises were so ambitious.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” opens in theaters on March 24, 2023.