Lance Reddick improved the quality of every project he was a part of, including HBO’s The Wire as Baltimore police lieutenant Cedric Daniels, Fox’s Fringe as Homeland Security special agent Phillip Broyles, and even Netflix’s otherwise lacklustre Resident Evil as a number of Albert Wexler clones.
The 60-year-old actor was a welcome addition to any film or television programme because of his towering size, deep, silky voice, and ability to project authority and threat in any register. His many devoted followers and the entertainment industry as a whole were deeply saddened by his unexpected demise last week.
In the fourth episode of the Keanu Reeves hitman series, John Wick: Chapter 4, Reddick plays Charon, the stylish concierge of the Continental Hotel, which is New York City’s high-end hotel for assassins.
It’s a minor but memorable part that’s helped expose the Baltimore native to a larger audience by capitalising on his suave stylishness, collected composure, and ability to indicate intimidating might with a pleasant grin. Reddick, who co-stars with Ian McShane as Continental manager Winston, has added a dose of cool, methodical muscle to the show in exchange for a mainstream platform befitting his enormous abilities.
It’s disappointing to see that despite the film’s many strengths, John Wick: Chapter 4 still messes with Reddick.
This paragraph contains spoilers.
It relies so much on over-the-top spectacle (with references to Lawrence of Arabia, Barry Lyndon, and The Warriors) that the 169-minute running time is more than made up for by a flurry of bullets, nunchucks, car crashes, and bloodshed in Reeves’ fourth outing as the well-dressed executioner. Nevertheless, it does not distribute affection fairly.
While Reeves’ killer-of-few-words is the focus of director Chad Stahelski’s attention, other notable performances come from Bill Skarsgard (as the villainous Marquis Vincent de Gramont), Ian McShane (as Wick’s old samurai friend), Hiroyuki Sanada (as a fat suit-encased German baddie), and the legendary Donnie Yen (as a Zatoichi-esque blind assassin hired to dispatch Wick).
Even Laurence Fishburne, in his rare cinematic appearances, gets to roar like a tyrant as the supreme Bowery King of the underworld.
Yet, Reddick does not get similar consideration. Charon may have always been a side character in the series, there to provide a little more lustre and charisma to the proceedings, but at least in John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum, he had his big moment to shine.
In contrast, at the beginning of John Wick: Chapter 4, he is asked to meet with Winston and Gramont and is then swiftly killed before Winston’s eyes when Gramont blows up the Continental and excommunicates Winston from the assassin’s world.
His last words to his boss before dying on the floor are, “It has been an honour, my friend.” His unceremonious death goes unmentioned for the rest of the film’s bloated running length.
The John Wick: During the course of the past week of marketing for Chapter 4, the cast has paid heartfelt respect to Reddick without mentioning the slapdash way in which he was written out of the show. Although the events of Ballerina (starring Ana de Armas) take place between the third and fourth John Wick films, Reddick will reprise his role as Charon in this spin-off. Even still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Reddick’s part in the story should have grown over time rather than being cut short for the sake of a cheap, easy tragedy at the beginning.
John Wick: Chapter 4 does the bare minimum to close the books on one of its trademark (if minor) characters, Charon, but Reddick deserved a lot nicer send-off than he got. The power of Reddick’s body of work, particularly on the small screen, where his stately, steely charisma was frequently best employed, especially when tinged with a sly sense of humour, will ensure the actor’s lasting legacy. It’s unfortunate that his most recent major motion picture endeavour wasted him so cavalierly.