Movie Review: ‘John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishbburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Saï Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas

Plot: The world’s most feared and respected assassin, John Wick, is on the run. A price is on his head, the underworld is bared from helping him and every hired killer in the world is lining up to take their shot.

Review: Well, that was more of the same. And by that I mean the John Wick series maintains its spot as the best damn action franchise of the modern age (assuming we’re packaging up superheroes in their own genre at this point). Although simpler fare like the Fast and Furious franchise is pulling in the big bucks, but John Wick is substantially cooler, more exciting, smarter and clearly demonstrates that creating an artistic piece of cinema does not mean you can’t also make a high-adrenaline action film with a wry sense of humour. It’s been a while since I saw an action film that saw the audience cheering along with our hero, but that happened in spades tonight.

For those just joining us – and there’s a surprising number of people yet to climb on board the John Wick bandwagon – here’s the story…

John Wick (Reeves) had previously lost his wife and lives a lonely existence with his puppy. A bunch of Russian gangsters break into his house to steal his car and they kill his puppy. Said gangsters were ignorant to the fact that Wick is known throughout the underworld as ‘Baba Yaga’, and is considered a legend among killers. Wick proceeds to murder the entire Russian mafia. Then an Italian gangster took the chance to call in an unresolved favour from Wick, then turn against him, so Wick murders the entire Italian mob. In doing so Wick breaks the rules of the Continental Hotels, the underworld safe houses, rendering his life forfeit.

That brings us up to speed, with this new third chapter beginning up where we left off – Wick and his dog running for their lives knowing that the entire assassin community is gunning for him. Continental Manager Winston (McShane) allows Wick an hour before he is declared excommunicado. Whilst Wick is on the run the High Table, the leaders of the underworld, send an adjudicator (Dillon) to inform Winston that he will be stood down for not killing John Wick when he had the chance. They also give the same seven day notice to the Bowery King (Fishburne), who also previously assisted Wick.

The first thing people notice about the John Wick movies is that they have a simple premise of excessive vengeance used to string together a series of imaginative and tightly choreographed action set-pieces. The next thing they might notice is that they have a deeply fascinating world. Apparently Wick’s adventures take place in a parallel universe where half the population are assassins and the other half are seemingly oblivious to the carnage taking place directly in front of them.

John Wick 3 fully embraces the unique style of the previous films. The neon-bathed cities are packed full of hipster security detail and colourful killers, including motorbike ninjas and a giant. The society at the core of it is as cool as it is bizarre. We get plenty of familiar faces returning, including the homeless army working under the Bowery King, including the Tik-Tok Man (Mantzoukas) providing complimentary nuttiness to Fishburnes, and Charon (Reddick), the smooth talking concierge of the Continental Hotel of New York. We get a deeper dive into this world, including a sneak peak into the origins of Wick himself. We won’t say any more here because you’ll now doubt want to see it unfold for yourself. Needless to say though, the unique setting has become as important a character as Wick himself.

Having fully leaned in to this style can result in some unfortunate blowback, however, and John Wick 3 isn’t immune to this. Wick’s meeting with ‘The Elder’ (Taghmaoui) is such a strange turn in the film that it feels a bit silly, especially as his place in the hierarchy isn’t completely clear.

We ended up seeing this immediately after rewatching the original two films back to back and the fact that we weren’t feeling fatigued by the consistent style and endless killing by the end of it all is testimont to the effectiveness of this style and action film-making. John Wick is not the most complex character in the world but damn if he isn’t fun.

Rating: NINE out of TEN