John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Review
The original John Wick movie in 2014 was one hell of a pleasant surprise. Keanu Reeves exploded onto the screen as the retired contract killer, sporting sharp suits and expertly taking out the bad guys who stole his prized car, and killed his dog. Beautifully choreographed, intensely satisfying action – just pure escapism. John Wick 2 landed in 2017 and expanded on some of the mythology introduced in the first movie, delving into the wider world of an assassin community which seemingly outnumbers average citizens! But John Wick broke the rules, losing his cool and killing a member of the High Table on the grounds of the Continental Hotel, a place designated to be safe ground for those in the assassin business. His actions led to him being deemed “excommunicado” by the High Table, with all privileges removed and an open contract of $14 million placed on his head. Wick had just an hour head start granted to him by Winston, manager of the Continental and an old friend of Wicks, before becoming fair game for anyone and everyone. And that is the cliffhanger where the second movie left us dangling…
Chapter 3 picks things up pretty much right from where chapter 2 ended. It’s around 5:10pm, and a wounded John Wick is making his way through New York with his latest doggy friend following alongside him. Excommunicado kicks in at 6pm, and Wick is clocked by various assassins as he moves through the streets, all preparing themselves for a shot at the $14 million. He takes care of the important stuff – making sure his dog is in safe hands and that his wounded shoulder is patched up – and every so often we cut to the administration room, where communications are being sent out to all the assassins, official paperwork is getting stamped and time checks are being announced. 20 minutes until excommunicado, 10 minutes, 1 minute, 5 seconds. It’s an intense build up, and you cannot wait to find out how it’s all going to unfold when 6pm hits.
When 6pm does arrive, it’s not quite the all out war we’ve been expecting. Instead, we get a bunch of small but nicely choreographed fights involving small groups of chancers, all keen to try their hand at taking out the legendary John Wick. We get book-fu, we get horse-fu, and we get a fight in a room full of knives and swords. Which is great, unless you’re squeamish about anything involving sharp objects and eyeballs (that would be me then).
As much as I’d love to watch two solid hours of John Wick just kicking ass, I guess there does need to be the odd break here and there, and there’s a noticeably lengthy period where the brakes are slammed on somewhat. We get bogged down in more mythology, and while John tries to arrange safe passage to Casablanca in order to bargain for his life, an adjudicator arrives in New York to question those who seemingly broke the rules in order to help Wick in the last movie, and to serve suitable punishment on them.
When John hooks up with old friend Sofia (Halle Berry), things move up a gear once more. Sofia can more than hold her own in a fight and it’s an impressive, albeit far too brief performance from Halle Berry. But it’s her two dogs who manage to steal the show during a fight between Wick, Sofia and another bunch of goons. Repeatedly leaping out of nowhere and viciously taking guys down with a set of pretty impressive moves of their own. They go for the neck and they pull at arms. But mostly, they just go for the crotch…
The final act resorts to simply providing a relentless onslaught of opponents for Wick to take out, and that’s perfectly fine by me. Pausing for breath after each round (for our benefit as much as his!), before moving to the next. While not quite as impressive as the original movie, this was on the same level as chapter 2 for me. And I certainly haven’t tired of seeing John Wick do his thing just yet, so it’s lucky that the door is open for another sequel should they wish to continue!
My watch-list of movies and TV shows continues to grow, while my spare time continues to shrink. Occasionally though, I’ll manage to tick one off the list, and then try to come up with some words about it that make me sound as though I know what I’m talking about. “Once he has discovered something, he wants to be off onto the next thing, rather than spending time and elaborating” – snippet from my primary school report, confirming that I am, and always have been, easily distracted.