John Wick – Chapter 3: Parabellum (2019)
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn
Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere. – IMDB
Let’s face it. Not a whole lot of movies make it to the third film in a franchise and are still watchable. Its a very small amount of films that get that far without actually just watching it with a lot of hope. That doesn’t apply to the John Wick franchise because while the second film might not have been as good as the first film (in my opinion, of course), the third film has a lot of the qualities of what makes this franchise stand out (the action, the style and the characters) while there are still some bits that get toned down but other elements gets amped up and yet, it all seems to come together for the thrilling ride. It does help that John Wick has the plot of everyone trying to chase him down and the tension from that situation. But John Wick is a man with a plan, even when things get crazy, the one hour grace time he got from Winston (Ian McShane) in John Wick 2 was enough for him to somehow construct his next move and hope for the best that it would get him to where he needed to be. At the same time, the story wasn’t just with John Wick trying to survive but at the same time, his actions causing the High Table to send out the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to trace back to those who didn’t stop him despite knowing what he had done and delivering their punishment.
Parabellum does a lot of things right. For one, it keeps it a fairly straight forward story. It has two story lines going on at the same time that links to each other. Its not complicated to follow and while it does rely a little on the previous movie, you could essentially sit down and watch this one simply knowing the pretext that John Wick had an hour grace period to make his escape and sit down to enjoy this one. It might have some confusing elements in terms of how the assassin tree of power works, I guess but then a lot of it wasn’t really explained before either so here we learn a little more about those elements as John Wick fights for his freedom. However, aside from that, what has always made this franchise thrive is its action and fast-paced story. The action choreography as well as the fighting scenes here excel. There is a bit more of a subtle background track than the previous movies however it does still work to meld well with the situation. At the same time, there is a lot of change in different weapons or techniques in the situation that John Wick ends up which gives it a lot of creativity even in having horses and other elements.
Parabellum also manages to keep its charm by retaining its characters whether its John Wick which is a role absolutely perfect for Keanu Reeves or Ian McShane’s Winston or Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King or the Continental’s concierge Charon played by Lance Reddick which are all standout characters that make this movie shine. Parabellum brings forth a few new characters as well. The first to mention probably is Halle Berry as Sofia and Angelica Huston as The Director, two characters who we learn had past business with John Wick and helps him reluctantly. Both of them being ladies who are quite intense however Angelica Huston having the more power in her words and attitude and Halle Berry being the one with some of the really fantastic action scenes as she is accompanied by two dogs. Then we have somewhat of a more villainous character which is The Adjudicator played by Asia Kate Dillon who actually seems like the tough chick role who you’d expect would end up being in some fight scenes but she was there solely to lay out the deal as a diplomat sort of role which is pretty interesting. With that said, this one added in some dark humor which was less obvious than in this one and it had to do with the villain bad-ass fighter Zero played by Mark Dacascos who is this fanboy of John Wick but also wants to be the one to take him out. He does a fantastic job. The characters here remain very strong and add a lot of charm to the film and the story and its these characters that add depth and substance.
Overall, John Wick 3 does an awesome job. Its still not quite at the John Wick level of awesome but its pretty close. There’s a lot here that works and while some of the things feel like it speeds through it, things still fall into place and the heart of the story is in the right place. It also helps to have all these characters that have some mystery and so much to discover while managing to keep the action and fighting sequence fresh and fun.
***As a side note, there were moments it did feel like it was moments of tribute to Keanu Reeves past movies. I mean the obvious is Laurence Fishburne and some other Matrix-like moves while you have signs like Bridge Closed, which it felt like was a Speed reference and I’m sure there’s tons of other stuff that I missed.***