John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Following his excommunication for the unauthorised execution of High Table crime lord Santino, John needs to survive an army of bounty-hunting killers that are on his trail.
Genre: Action / Thriller
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Lance Reddick, Mark Dacasco, Jerome Flynn, Saïd Taghmaoui, & Anjelica Huston.
Run Time: 130 min.
US Release: 17 May 2019
UK Release: 15 May 2019
German Release: 23 May 2019
After an elongated holiday through Japan, which by the way was awesome! I am back, fully regenerated, to post my first review in a month… and what a movie this is! I am talking about the second sequel, which has officially become the John Wick action franchise! Once again directed by Chad Stahelski, this third Chapter takes the master assassin to new lengths, bigger fights, in a story that is all about survival. Having said that, can Parabellum hold up with the other two flicks, or will this be the first disappointment of the series? Well, let's figure it out!
Following the events of Chapter 2, John is making his way through New York City, trying to get out of the metropolis before his disfellowship to the assassin’s guild becomes public, and hordes of hitmen come after his 14 million dollar-priced head.
Written once again by Derek Kolstad, this third instalment had been conceived as a companion piece to the first sequel, much like The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi had been planned alongside. The title was taken from a famous fourth-century Roman military quote in Latin: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, meaning “If you want peace, prepare for war”, which is basically the premise in a nutshell, as well as being quoted in the film.
The screenplay starts exactly where its predecessor ended, enabling a fluid crossover between instalments. That said, it does suffer from the same narrative issues as Chapter 2, meaning that the sole focus on upping the action, came at the expense of storytelling. In fact, the fights have been taken to such extremes that at times, it does feel like it’s parodying itself. This is especially true as to how it ends!
However, it is also true that this is still a pretty consistent franchise. As ridiculous as the combat is being blown up, it remains a damn good genre movie! While the plot is somewhat lacking, Parabellum did a better job than its predecessor at expanding the lore of the assassin’s guild, as well as fleshing out the graphic novel-like world. The simple script, in combination with the many action segments, make for a fast-paced, extravagant experience.
Dialogues are dialled up again, as much of The High Table's inner machinations, plus motivations, are explained through conversations with the Adjudicator. Talk’s between Sofia and John, do also lend a better understanding of his past life.
Keanu Reeves still kicks serious butt as John Wick, in his mid-fifties, though he doesn’t move as smoothly anymore as in the previous two flicks, noticeable during fighting segments. As far as the character of Wick goes, his personal drive is difficult to determine, until a choice is given to him. The problem is that he reverts on his decision fifteen minutes later, with no real explanation.
Asia Kate Dillon has been cast to portray the High Table’s Adjudicator, meant to punish those who helped the lead character after having shot Santino. Dillon gives a great portrayal of a stick-up, dislikeable woman, accentuating every word in a sentence. That said, she also comes off as a little wooden.
Halle Berry has been brought into the cast, to play Sofia Al-Azwar, a character interesting enough to have her own spin-off series. Berry not only gave a great performance, but she sold her physical acting skills and also had a hand in training her canine co-stars.
Ian Mc Shane finally obtains the screentime he deserves as Winston, the manager of the New York Continental. This is also true for Lance Reddick, who we get to see in action, during a fun shoot-out incident.
Laurence Fishburne returns as the Bowery King, obtaining more screen time and giving again his over-the-top performance. Finally, we have Mark Dacasco as Zero, a Japanese assassin, hired to kill John Wick, of who he is a fan. Dacasco portrays the character as a little eccentric.
Dan Laustsen returns as director of photography, infusing the picture with gorgeous-looking long takes of entirely uncut battle sequences, left to play out naturally. While it is admirable, it also causes an issue of oversaturation; once Wick makes the same grappling move for the tenth time, it starts feeling a little repetitive. Nonetheless, the stunt coordinators plus the camera team made sure to include enough varieties of weapons or transportation modes, to not let the action get stale. Some of the best combat segments include stunts with dogs, who fight next to our lead anti-hero.
The colours make use of a lot of neon lighting, in particular purple and blue. Overall, the warmer colours of the second part, are kept for gorgeous, scenic, daylight scenes. The special effects blend once again seamlessly with practical stun work, as computer-generated backgrounds or objects are used in some shots. The only issue I still have is with the CG blood.
The score underlines the many facets of the genre, using a rock-heavy soundtrack infused with electric beats. Tyler Bates, who returned a third time with his composing partner J. Richard, was writing the music together with the British rock band Bush.
Verdict: The Baba Yaga’s third outing starts immediately where the second movie had its cliffhanger. Escalating once more with the action, the plot raises the stakes and combat scenes, to the point of near ridiculousness. Nonetheless, the expansion of world-building plus lore is handled better than in the previous feature, even if the personal story adds nothing new. Some dialogues make fun references to the Matrix flicks, and the stunts are absolutely over-the-top, crazy - especially the scenes with dogs, which feel innovative! By now, no matter how badly the title character gets wounded, he still stands up as if being immortal. Keanu Reeves is a badass, unfortunately, his ageing is becoming visible, as the choreography is not as smooth anymore. Halle Berry is a welcomed addition to the franchise, selling her physicality. Though I did like it a smidge more than the first sequel, I will give John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum the same grade as Chapter 2, an 8.0 out of 10.
While it doesn’t reach the greatness of the original, I still highly recommend going to see this film, as it is a milestone in its genre! If you’ve already seen it, leave a comment in the comments. Thank you for reading! If you don’t want to miss more content, subscribe!