For the fact that time and time again it’s been proven (to me), I’m an avid believer in some of life’s best results coming from people and things I least expect. JOHN WICK is the perfect example. Seriously, did any of you think this would wind up being one of the best, thought-out, layered action-packed franchises you’d ever see? In 2014, JOHN WICK struck a chord with audiences who yearned to see Keanu Reeves make his return in full-blown action mode. Earning cult status for its hyper-kinetic take on classic martial arts and the art of gunplay (a/k/a Gun-fu), the film’s global success presented the producers with an inevitable question: where do we go from here, bro? It was obvious for everyone involved (including Keanu), it meant a much broader scope into the character’s internal struggles… and thank God for that! Otherwise, CHAPTER 2 (2017) wouldn’t have happened. Therefore, deprived of a fantastic sequel with a crazier story that leads to a jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending.
As one of the most anticipated follow-up films for 2019, the pulsating, heavy-breathing start of JOHNWICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM metaphorically presents a clock ticking relentlessly against the formerly retired super-assassin. The action picks up from CHAPTER 2 as John Wick finds himself on the brink of being declared excommunicado – stripped of the protective services of The High Table, the secretive global association of crime orgs that enforces the assassins’ code. With a $14 million bounty on his head, even the wicked Wick of the East has never faced so many simultaneous threats with itchy trigger-fingers focusing only on one thing… wiping him off the map! Enemies are everywhere, but that only drives Wick to the ends of the planet as he continues to seek a personal reckoning.
Jesus H. Christ of Latter-Day Saints this is a sick Wick flick! And when I say “sick,” I mean it’s dope x100. As always, B movie appeal, with A movie execution from start to finish. Explosively fun, sarcastically hilarious, entertainingly loud, and viscerally intriguing would be the best way to describe PARABELLUM. It adds more pizzazz to its predecessors. In part not only is it Reeves that allows this franchise to shine, but a lot of the maniacal magic that flourishes is due to returning director Chad Stahelski, whose got an amazing imagination for telling this particular story. The mythos of JOHN WICK is clearly engraved in mind, body and soul. It’s his baby for lack-of-a-better-term. If you enjoy fantastic action-sequences and visceral choreographed fights, CHAPTER 3 presents it on a silver platter with 3X the chaos. Quite frankly, if you enjoyed the last two, then you will love this one. The pressure John Wick is under in this is so enormous, Reeves exposes it in a way that allows you to live it with him.
This series reminds you why we enjoy watching Reeves do his thing. In his best role since “Neo,” John Wick raises the bar on what an action hero is. Although questionable due to his past, the darkened allure presented by the character couldn’t have been exposed any better than the way Reeves has been doing it. Simple, subtle, silent, and deadly. That, my friends, makes for a cocktail of destruction.
Taking us deep within the world of The High Table, the narrative in CHAPTER 3 expands upon the world by introducing new, badass characters that make this series darker, deadlier and a lot more complex than thought of from previous films. Aside from returning characters like the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), Continental Hotel’s manager Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick), The Continental’s concierge, CHAPTER 3 introduces Sofia (Halle Berry), The Director (Anjelica Huston), The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillion), Zero (Mark Dacascos), Berrada (Jerome Flynn), Tick Tock Man (Jason Mantzoukas), The Elder (Said Taghmaoul) and Ernest (Boban Marjanovic). Meshed within a whirlwind of lunacy, all these new characters raise the series to new heights with this crazy universe whose common denominator is a man on the hunt who will stop at nothing. And that’s what makes this series damn near perfect. Team Wick knows better. They know the formula shouldn’t be messed with. A formula normally tampered with by other fallen would-be franchises, therefore, destroying what made the original film superbly powerful and fun to watch. Stahelski knows what works when it comes to JOHN WICK, and from the looks of it… JOHN WICK fans can expect more!
As a whole, this is not your typical “boom-bap,” template, type of sequel. Although it displays the number 3, this is a whole new layered story that dives into an abyss within the established setting from its first two films. It’s one of those rare, well executed continuations that also teases at more to come. Pay attention to dialog. It’s big on set-up as well. The JOHN WICK series has easily become my new favorite action flicks and series. It’s got a better narrative, better acting, better exposition, and an overall better tone than any of those… I don’t know… FAST AND FURIOUS flicks, for example. (I can’t believe I actually compared them.)
Grade: A / Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Sequel / Rated: R / Run Time: 2:11
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Said Taghmoul, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Website: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum