John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is an amazing action ballet that just has to be seen in theaters.
Score: 4.5 / 5
John Wick (played by Keanu Reeves) is in a bad place at the start of the third entry in this highly satisfying action franchise. At the end of Chapter 2, John broke the most sacred of rules in the assassin underworld of this movie universe. He killed someone on Continental grounds. For those unfamiliar with the series. The Continental hotels are throughout the world and serve as a safe haven for all assassin’s. Where they can get weapons, suits, medical treatment, anything and everything, but most importantly, it’s the one place they are forbidden to kill in. If they do, the penalty is excommunicado meaning, no more safety in the Continental hotels, and an ever increasing bounty on the assassin’s head for any other assassin to kill the unlucky soul.
Well at the end of John Wick 2, John can’t handle letting this particularly scummy high ranking member of the assassin society from living, and kills him on Continental grounds. John Wick has no allies now, as The High Table (the secret governing force of this assassin world) has made it their mission to take John out. So when we see John Wick running from his life from the opening. Still battered and bruised from the last movie, things look pretty bleak. But John Wick is the legendary Baba Yaga, a ghost of death, the greatest assassin that has ever lived, and you don’t put a man like that in a corner and expect him to accept his fate.
What follows is a journey of John attempting to make things right and get the excommunicado status revoked. From the start of this franchise the only reason the retired assassin returned to this messy world was because of the death of his wife. While the first two films are much more about him attempting to grieve and make peace with the loss of his love, this film sees that transition to John wanting to live to remember his wife’s memory and stay true to the better man he became because of her.
If you are looking for more depth in terms of an emotional story look far far far away. This isn’t that franchise. If you are looking for some of the best action fighting scenes you have arrived at your mecca. In John Wick 1 we were introduced to his headshot killing gun-fu, in the second chapter, we see John use a pencil to take out assassins. In Parabellum? Get ready to have your mind blown, as John finds even more inventive ways to out murder fellow assassins at every turn. I refuse to spoil a single second of it, but the first big takedown is so brutal and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It sets the tone, for what is an action movie dialed to 20.
Interestingly this particular entry is now fully embracing more of the humorous and almost video game like setup this world invites. This is found in the certain characters in particular, as well as what is becoming the John Wick final boss formula. In other franchises this would bug me, but the deeper we get into the John Wick universe the more it makes sense to embrace the ridiculous madness. This isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s meant to be an insane ride that we are all on, watching John dance his way through challenges the only was he knows how, with guns, knifes, and any other item you can imagine.
Before I close out a few final highlights worth mentioning. The cinematography is pure beauty, there are so many beautiful shots that look worthy of being freeze framed and made into a painting. Paired with this is very effective editing, that keeps the action from ever feeling too choppy. It’s something you don’t understand how important it is until you watch a movie like this versus an editing misfire such as Taken 3. Finally, the supporting cast around Keanu Reeves is top notch. Especially newcomers Halle Berry and Mark Dacascos. Berry’s Sofia is just as bad-ass as John and have two awesome dogs on top of that. While Bacascos’s Zero is this perfect humorous villain that toes the line just right to make a refreshing challenge to Mr. Wick.
In this third entry, John is embracing who he is, it only seems fitting that this third chapter fully embraces what this series is all about, the most crazy on the ground action fighting you have seen in decades. With how good each film builds upon the other, here’s hoping this franchise never ends.