Review - 'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' (Rhys's Take)
I love that this series exists. It’s so refreshing to have a successful trilogy of films that spotlight a more practical approach to action versus the computer-generated monotony we’ve been inundated with over the past decade or two. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum proudly carries its tactile torch and flings it across the finish line with unbridled confidence, despite its increasingly ludicrous and nonsensical plot.
John Wick: Chapter 3 picks up right where its predecessor left off. John Wick is now "Excommunicado”, meaning in an hours time, just about every assassin in existence will be out to kill him in hopes of collecting a $14 million paycheck.
First and foremost, can we just all agree that Keanu Reeves is the closest thing we have to a god walking amongst humans? Okay, I’ll rein that back in a little, but seriously, this guy is having one helluva year. He returns as the titular John Wick and while his motivations this time are a little more muddled, the action sequences are more visceral, more electric, more brutal than they ever have been and that’s thanks to Reeves and Stahelski’s commitment to the film they are making. I can’t even count how many times I picked my jaw up off of the floor after witnessing a crazy kill or an intricate moment of choreography that didn’t seem humanly possible. This film is on fire from start to finish and successfully embraces the “weird” in a way I haven’t seen in quite some time.
With the action, nothing is left on the cutting room floor, and that might seem excessive, and sure it can be, but this movie is so confident in its set-pieces that I couldn’t help but enjoy every second of it. There’s a brutal kill using a book in a library, an antique knife fight that escalates from one extreme to another, a high-speed motorcycle chase involving samurai swords, a fight involving some of the most well-choreographed attack dogs I’ve ever seen and even a chase involving John Wick on horseback…and there’s even more that I’m not mentioning.
While Keanu Reeves is the undeniable star and the main reason this film works, there’s also a host of new and returning characters that enhance Wick’s world in wonderful ways. Halle Berry is the big new name here, and she flanked by a couple of viciously loyal shepherd dogs. Halle Berry plays Sofia, and she brings a new element to the film in that she’s basically a female John Wick, and she proves in a second-act action sequence by displaying assertive, palpable energy and skill. Another new-comer is Angelica Houston, who has a link to John Wick’s past, I won’t divulge too much about her character, but it’s nice to see her on the big screen again in a large production. Ian McShane returns as Winston and really seems relishing his role as the manager of the Continental, the assassin safe-haven in New York City. Lawrence Fishburn also returns as the Bowery King, and he’s the only one whose really hamming it up here. His performance is almost too over-the-top for my liking, but he’s clearly having fun here.
Another thing that’s almost instantly noticeable are the sets. This film cost almost twice as much as the second chapter, and all of that money is on the screen. Much more attention is paid to the sets and the color pallet. From the dingy, rainy city streets showered in neon glow to the sprawling desert of Morocco, this film looks simply phenomenal and makes a good case for why people should probably upgrade their home theater to 4k HDR.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is everything I want from an action film. Director Chad Stahelski, Keanu Reeves and everyone working in front of and behind the camera are in top form. Each action sequence is diverse and add a new dynamics that keep the film crackling from start to finish. The plot is nonsensical when you really try to break it down, but it hardly matters when everything else is so good.