John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Review
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.
Directors: Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Tobias Segal, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn
Kinda crazy that one of the best action franchises of the decade is starring Keanu Reeves in a revenge plot for his murdered dog, but here we are, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum cementing it as a just that.
Picking up directly where the second chapter left off, John Wick has been marked as "excommunicado" from the assassin underworld ruling group The High Table. Thankfully Ian McShane's Winston, the Manager of the Continental Hotel in New York has given John an hours head-start before all hell will break loose. Much like the way Chapter 2 ended with John getting sly looks from would-be-assassins as he runs through Central Park, the first fifteen or so minutes of Parabellum is spent with John continuing to try and dodge those looks and do what he can in his hour. He attempts to heal his wounds up, get some plan sorted to get out of his mess and then the clock strikes zero. What follows in the next hour of Parabellum are some of the most brutally intense fight scenes of the franchise thus far, which is saying something.
The fighting in John Wick: Chapter 3 is the best of the franchise with a heavier reliance on hand-to-hand combat than previously seen, but still featuring that gritty realistic and gut-punching gun combat the franchise is known for. It’s unrelenting violence at times, but it never becomes gruesome.
Everything is shot beautifully with returning cinematographer Dan Lausten bringing the city to life within this neon-underworld. That paired with director Chad Stahelski not shying away from showing you the stunt work and fantastic feats of action the main cast are performing at times makes for beautiful violence and mayhem. As much as I like watching the MCU films on the big screen, they will never give me the thrills of choreographed brutality as John Wick delivers. Keanu Reeves may not be hanging off a plane but he's certainly putting in work as someone performing his own stunts here.
Halle Berry makes her first appearance in the franchise and although she wasn't in the film as long as you may have assumed, she certainly shows up to prove she can kick-ass. One action sequence with her character Sofia and John, along with Sofia's two attack dogs was mind-blowing. It's shot and edited to perfection and it's relentless and somewhat disturbing at times. I have literally never seen attack-dogs used in a film like they are in this sequence and I probably never will again. Doggos can be cute, but also very scary.
Mark Dacascos as the assassin Zero is John's main villain this time around, but it's really hard to call him a TRUE villain like the previous film's enemies. He's just like everyone else in the film who is after a nice paycheck of a growing $14 Million bounty on John's head -- he just happens to be one of John's longest pursuers. Dacascos is a lot of fun though, kinda cheering John on as a big fan, while also trying to kill him. Zero also brings along his class of fighters, two of which are Cecep Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian, two of the main cast members from The Raid films, which as a huge fan made me very happy to see fighting John Wick.
You could paint Asia Kate Dillon’s character as the villain of the film, I guess. They play an Adjudicator sent by The High Table to see to fixing all the mess John has caused which leads to us as an audience finally learning a lot more about not only The High Table but also John's past which is intriguing with what little details we do get. The Universe is growing more and more to really be a fantasy-zone, but a fantasy paired with some of the most realistic gun-shoot outs you'll watch. You have no idea how much I appreciate seeing characters pick up new ammo clips off the dead around them and reload their weapons.
The John Wick franchise is an action-driven series first and foremost and although you don't expect much from the story in the third entry I did find a couple of character decisions questionable. Even John's driving force to stay alive is a bit corny, but so is killing hundreds of people over your dead dog I guess.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is the best entry in the franchise with the most viscerally enthralling and jaw-dropping action scenes of the series thus far, Keanu Reeves has cemented himself as a true action-movie icon for the decade with this franchise and John Wick: Chapter 3 one of the best action films.