John Wick – Chapter 3: Parabellum (2019)

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.

John Wick 3

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.

John Wick 3

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.***

Double Feature: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) & Ready Player One (2018)

The next double feature are two rentals that I saw over the holidays and two movies that I’ve been anticipating to watch for a while. The first is the sequel of John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2 and the next is one that I’m curious about the execution of the movie especially since I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, Ready Player One.

Let’s check it out!

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick Chapter 2

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.-IMDB

Call me a late comer to the John Wick movies so far. I only saw John Wick (review) some time in 2018 and loved it to absolute bits. Suffice to say when I had the chance to get a cheap rental for its sequel, it was my first choice. John Wick is a fantastic character and the second film dives a deeper story in the aftermath of his being caught into something deeper except everyone seems to forget to not mess with him because it never turns out good. There is something so raw and no BS when it comes to John Wick that I love. The characters, the color palette and the flawless action packed scenes are all so well thought-out. Not to mention, Keanu Reeves has definitely found the iconic character for himself with John Wick and he can make it come alive with the least amount of words needed and just his still glances and reactions (and sometimes lack of) are worth a thousand words. The film itself has so much character and its made up by choosing the right soundtrack and the same group of characters and the no nonsense plot line which has enough twists to make it all intriguing.

There really aren’t enough words to describe this adrenaline rush that is John Wick and the sequel does a great job on par with its first film. Suffice to say that I’m looking forward to the third film.

Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. – IMDB

If you haven’t listened to our Game Warp book discussion of Ready Player One, you can find it HERE.

In a nutshell on how I felt about Ready Player One the book was that there were too many huge 80s reference bits that just took up entire parts. It felt too much for its purpose and pulled away from the actual treasure hunting adventure thriller but put too much focus on the love of the 80s. There is nothing wrong with loving the 80s but when entire segments of the book is narrating entire movie sequences or game sequences, its just a bit much. In that sense, the book felt like it fell into fanboy territory and lost the actual story itself.

Ready Player One does execute better as a movie. It still has a lot of 80s references but takes out all the long sequences of re-enacting bits and pieces of movies and games and such, leaving in more the story of the treasure hunt and following our protagonist as he finds the first key and then meets the girl and all that stuff. There is no doubt that the visuals here are outstanding as are how everything is framed and the fantasy element of the OASIS and how certain bits have been changed to match up to say what they can get licensing for and what can work in the realm of films to escape the book world. With Stephen Spielberg at the helm, this movie does work better than the book in my opinion. However, the movie suffers from length even if it took out the long  boring bits in the book itself. In turn though, the characters themselves lost a bit of the character development but the movie gained a bit more of the hunt. I liked Ready Player One alright but is it Steven Spielberg’s best work, no, is it a good adaptation, its okay and as for the cast itself, they were passable as well. Its a movie that works for one watch but I’m fairly indifferent to it that I wouldn’t go back to watch this again, simply because there are better choices and as I sit to think about it more, its starting to fade away making it also a fairly forgettable experience.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?


Double Feature: John Wick (2014) & Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (2014)

And we’re ramping up on some of these double features. I’m trying to boost up some of the movie reviews especially since I’m trying to catch up on a lot of movies available on Shudder before I take a little break from subscribing to their streaming service. I do love their selection and they constantly are coming up with movies from Fantasia in the past few years that I had to miss due to scheduling conflict. Regardless, I’m going to try my absolute best to get through as many as possible.

I promise you that I never plan these things out so well but hey, apparently, I landed on a 2014 double feature. Why not, right? So, first one is catching up on John Wick, which everyone has been telling me to especially since its been a bumpy road for my Keanu Reeves love that has definitely faded quite a bit in the recent years, especially with the horrible Knock Knock that I wanted to roll under my car a few times if I had an actual physical copy of it. I heard John Wick is fantastic and it feels like its more in the Keanu Reeves element so I’m looking forward to it. Then its time to start the Shudder trek and go for a treasure hunt adventure in Kumiko The Treasure Hunter. It seems from what I’ve seen, its not exactly horror so I’m not sure why its in Shudder but hey, its been on my to-watch list for quite some time so I’m expecting some incredibly slow-paced indie film style. To be honest, I have no idea what to expect but it has this odd yet intriguing thing about it.

Without further ado, lets just jump right in!

John Wick (2014)

John Wick

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him. – IMDB

John Wick is one of those movies that I sit down and right away its obvious that its going to be a fun little ride to the end. Keanu Reeves has had a few down moments but this is definitely one of those great moments that I loved him for. Him as John Wick is truly in his own element. Its a simple story about revenge and it was about John Wick’s loss and while it felt like it wasn’t a big deal to others, he lost everything that was worthwhile.

Its one of those films that build on its character gradually. When the movie started, it was just about this tired man who lost his wife and then gets broken into and steals his car and killed his dog. But as we pan into these other characters, we learn more and more about John Wick. First that he is a person to be feared and then how he got that title and finally, it gradually through the many scenes showed up his true focus and competency. Its builds and paces itself well. It didn’t need a lot of dialogue and fit the story perfectly because sometimes being about to see what is unsaid is a truly great performance in itself.

john wick

The characters whether it was the longer staying ones or the cameos all were memorable characters. Michael Nyqvist was great as the bad guy here taking his role to a fantastic new level that made him very fun to watch as well. Unfortunately, I did miss that he had passed away last year but learned about while researching the film a little further. He had done some great roles and this one included. John Leguizamo had a cameo role and I like that guy a lot ever since I saw him in Moulin Rouge. He has such a stand-out presence.

john wick

Overall, John Wick was a fun and thrilling ride from start to finish full of action and one liners and great performances through and through. The story was never too complicated and that fitted in exactly the focused character that John Wick was portrayed as while showing off how incredibly fantastic he was as a hitman. The soundtrack also was so awesome, accentuating every action scene.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

Director (and co-writer): David Zellner

Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, David Zellner, Shirley Venard

A jaded Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of Fargo (1996) on VHS, believing it to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money. – IMDB

Right off the bat, lets just say that Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is definitely an indie film experience. Its fairly slow paced and honestly not a whole lot happens. We follow around this oddly introvert Japanese woman who believes in the based on a true story Fargo’s hidden treasure to fill her life goal to find it. Is it a journey to find meaning in her life? Theres something deeper in this story that pulls me in but yet, it feels like theres not a whole lot going for it because it feels empty and then maybe that is what Kumiko feels as her emotions are more connected to her pet bunny Bunzo than even her own mother. However, the story itself is quite unique and surprisingly, the more I think about it, I feel like there may be more to discover. Writing it up now, the intriguing elements of this story is in Rinko Kikuchi’s performance no matter how little she says, her actions and her expressions define her character and keeps us wondering what she will do next as he focuses on getting to her treasure.

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

I can’t say I am a huge fan of the movie or that I get whats going on completely and maybe it merits a second viewing. While I acknowledge the great performance of Rinko Kikuchi and the uniqueness of centering a story on someone actually believing the based on true story movies that general movie viewers (myself included) may have become skeptical to, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has some good moments and some well shot scenes but its definitely not for everyone. It requires a lot of patience to get through, but if you enjoyed A Ghost Story, this one might be right up your alley in terms of pacing at least. A bit of mixed feelings towards this one for myself.

Thats it for this 2014 double feature. A contrast in so many ways.
The first is action packed and the second is slow paced execution.
Have you seen these two yet?

Knock Knock (2015)

One of the newer movies I purchased last year was one that seems to really be only known for its sexy moment, however, Keanu Reeves somehow always has this spot in my heart and I’ve fallen behind on watching a lot of the newer movies so here we are with Knock Knock. For the record, it was a choice among 5 DVDs and my husband picked this one.

Let’s check it out!

Knock Knock (2015)

Knock Knock

Director (and co-writer): Eli Roth

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand

When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. – IMDB

The best way to start this write-up off would be to say that I have seen a lot of reviews on this. Although, I might not have read them thoroughly, the general idea that I get is that it isn’t really that well-received. With that said, my expectations are also not quite that high. In my heart, I’d like to think that it could be good. Maybe be a little fun and sexy, that sort of thing. However, even my much less harsh critique in me still couldn’t like this a lot. In fact, I found this more of a funny “laughing at the movie” sort of affair than it made me feel much more than that. A lot of this, I feel has to do with casting Keanu Reeves in the role of the seduced man and I’ll get to that in a moment. I like the man a lot so I feel like I should explain myself a little more and the characters and all that. Knock Knock isn’t horrible. It just kind of misses delivering thrills and somehow it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and that isn’t because I’m a lady and don’t understand male impulsions, my husband also found it peculiar in the choices that Keanu Reeves’ character makes. We do think that the movie starts off on the right path until it kind of goes way off track.

Knock Knock

Keanu Reeves plays Evan, the devoted husband who has to stay behind. What Knock Knock does well is setting up the stage at the beginning of the family that Evan has: his wife and kids. The setup of the house gets a nice virtual tour and we even get a hint of the relationship he has with his wife. It is always nice to know the stakes and what our main character could lose. While different from my own perspectives on opening the door to strangers, I can even back Evan’s opening the door to help out any strangers, be it two pretty girls or not, because it is pouring rain outside. However, the moment you know its a bad decision and all the red lights start flashing is letting some chick you don’t know come into your house to mess with your internet. Even if they weren’t trying to seduce or whatever else, they could access all financial info or whatnot if they had some mad computer skills. However, while questionable, that isn’t exactly where the movie falls apart either, it just starts chipping at itself a little, in fact, even after the seduction bit, I could still accept the movie for what it is. Its in the meat of when the situation flips around and we know that these two girls have issues that Evan (aka Keanu Reeves) dialogue become a little funny. You got his typical wooden reactions which works well in a lot of action movies and what not but in this situation, I spent a good bit of it laughing at it, taking away from it possibly making it have thrills, just a lot of humor, which I assume wasn’t the goal. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t have a lot of Eli Roth movie viewing experience. That’s why I say that casting Keanu Reeves might be one of the reasons for lack of believability and immersion. I’ll go more into the story and layout of it all a little more after we talk about the beautiful ladies.

Knock Knock

Beauty is to the eye of the beholder but these two ladies, Ana de Armas and Lorenza Izzo, playing Bel and Genesis respectively are very pretty and rather fitting for their role. Not just because of their looks but also that they go full on flip in personality in the most eerie and weird way. In fact, we never really quite know what they want or what their issue is. The mystery of the antagonists usually is appealing, except the fun part is to have their reveal. Bel and Genesis really only have minuscule snippets. There’s some daddy issues with Bel perhaps and there’s something disturbingly odd with Genesis and this is a thing that they do without fail most times apparently but what is their deal? Is that what this movie wants to do? Make us wonder who these ladies are. Maybe punish the bad guys for falling for temptation and seduction? Or maybe trying to find the man that will prove them wrong. All speculation at this point since I feel like if there was an intention, I missed it. As great as their performances were for these two beautiful ladies, their characters felt empty.

Knock Knock Overall, Knock Knock had potential. It was definitely there. I hate to say that because it means that it missed the mark. Fact is, as great as the actors were, even if I found Keanu Reeves not exactly good for this role, there were issues with the script. Maybe it was trying to be too cryptic or too sly or too mysterious. Whatever it was, it fell short of what it could’ve been. It started out pretty well until it slowly just crumbled apart. Even with some nice shots especially with the navigation around the house before and after.  I think its time for John Wick to redeem Keanu Reeves since everyone says that movie is great.

Have you seen Knock Knock? Are you a Keanu Reeves fan?

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) by Slip/Through Movies – Ultimate 80s Blogathon

Next up for the Ultimate 80s Blogathon is Dan from Slip/Through Movies.  You might also know him as the Gen X side of The Tale of Two Dans. Both these sites are dedicated to bringing in depth reviews on movies, TV and trailers.  They are currently holding The Unity Movie Awards which is asking for your votes on their careful nominations from the online film community bringing you awards for Fun and Serious Categories.  Head over there to drop your vote HERE.

Let’s hand it over to Dan and his choice, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure!


bill and ted's excellent adventure

It doesn’t get much more 80s than this. Let’s begin with a quote:

BILL: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant. The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar. //
TED: Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video. //
BILL: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments. //
TED: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don’t really even know how to play? //
BILL: That is why we -need- Eddie Van Halen! //
TED: And -that- is why we need a triumphant video. //
Bill & Ted air guitar in celebration. The their alarm clock interrupts. //
BILL: Uh-oh, we’re late! //
TED: For what? //
BILL: For school, dude! //
TED: Oh yeah.

Alex Winters plays Bill, while Keanu Reeves plays Ted, before he blew up and became an action star with POINT BREAK. These two are the most lovable dumb guys in cinematic history. They go on an EXCELLENT ADVENTURE through time, “kidnapping” famous historical figures so they can pass their class. A perfect example of the comedy in store is when they’re reading from a textbook, Bill quotes So-crates, “The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing.” Ted gasps with an epiphany, “That’s us, dude!”

The journey is filled with an incredibly high laugh per minute count. This 80s flick is infinitely quotable and entirely fun. There’s another totally rad snippet of dialogue that exemplifies just how funny this cult classic is. While they’re studying, and trying to figure out what Lincoln’s famous words were, Ted gets an idea, “Oh, wait! Remember Disney World? Hall of Presidents?” Bill replies enthusiastically, “Yeah, good. What did he say?” Ted thinks a moment, only like Keanu can, and replies with the answer, “Welcome… to the Hall of Presidents.”

Released in 1989, it perfectly captures the spirit of the decade (just think of their slang), just the sequel did with the 90s despite only being separated by a few short years. When I look back on the 80s, I think of BILL & TED. I was only a young kid at the time, but I still remember seeing this in the theater. Looking back through Venetian blinds style sunglasses, nostalgia definitely weighs on my enjoyment to this day. This EXCELLENT ADVENTURE is one I’ve taken numerous times over the decades, and I still split my gut laughing throughout. That’s why BILL & TED is the most non-non-NON-heinous pick for the most excellent 80s flick, dude!