John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

The John Wick series keeps the action clever and explosive in a franchise that just keeps getting better. By now, most franchises would be out of steam and out of ideas. John Wick 3, however, maintains a steady stream of action, and manages to keep doing things that have never been done before. It’s a wonder that 55 year-old Keanu Reeves seems to be at the top of his game here, and the entire creative team delivers a film that defies expectations.

This film picks up immediately where John Wick 2 ended. Reeves is on the run with a 14 million dollar bounty on his head, and every assassin in the world after him. The first act of the film is his desperate attempt to flee New York City. There is a great nod to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the greatest knife fight ever filmed, and a cool horse chase/battle. It sounds bonkers, but every bit of it works.

The second act follows Reeves as he attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of The High Table, by being pardoned by The Man Above the Table. This part of the film is by no means sluggish, but starts to get confused. John Wick 2 expanded the world mythology, hitting all the right notes, still leaving a bit of mystery, but letting the audience know there is more to the world of assassins. This film expands the mythology even further, pushing the limits of plausibility. Also, it’s unclear why there even needs to be a man above the high table at all. What purpose does this even serve other than to pad out of the running time? Regardless, the second act had an incredible action sequence with Halle Berry and her testicle biting dogs, which was super hilarious, grotesque, and inventive, so it wasn’t a total waste.

The third act follows Reeves back to New York City to kill someone in order to get back into the High Table’s good graces. There is a double-cross, and Reeves ends up battling dudes in heavy body armor, followed immediately by ninjas. We see a nice mix of gunplay and acrobatic martial arts. The martial arts battles almost become exhausting at the end. Reeves battles two guys with swords, then two more guys, then a final guy with a sword. It was almost overkill. They could have just had him fight the final guy, Mark Dacascos, and it would have been just as good. In fact, Dacascos is my favorite villain of the three movies in the series. He’s a ruthless killer, but he’s also a fan of John Wick. He injects a bit of goofy charm in a semi-improvised scene where Dacascos lets Reeves know he loves his work. It was a welcome bit of levity, and a bit of humanity in an otherwise bleak world.

Everything about John Wick 3 is over the top. The battles are over the top, the mythology is over the top, and the running time is over the top. You would expect a film like this to collapse under the weight of its excess. But somehow it doesn’t. It manages to lure in the audience, and keep them hooked from start to finish. It’s a rare example of a near-perfect action film. And I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series.

Verdict: Awesome

Series Ranking: John Wick 2 > John Wick > John Wick 3

3 Responses to “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum”

  1. 1 Rodney Twelftree
    September 1, 2019 at 7:11 am

    A terrific review of a terrific film. That scene with Halle Berry and her Dogs taking on that bunch of henchmen… whew!!!

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June 2019


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