In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn.
John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum Trailer:
John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum Spoiler-Free Video Review
John Wick 3 did not skip a single moment of suspense following up where John Wick 2 left off. The first 20 minutes of the movie were incredibly suspenseful given the pressure of the looming countdown. If you have ever seen an episode of the TV show “24“, then this will feel pretty similar. To top it off, the film still throws in a couple of action sequences in spite of the the countdown, which only serves as an appetizer for what’s to come next. It was simply a beautiful way to not only set the initial tone of the movie, but to also lock in audiences from the very get go.
Speaking of action, let’s talk about this movie’s absolute bread and butter. The fight scenes and action were taken to a new level. We got way more than the previous movie, and this sequel was not shy in holding anything back. What I appreciated the most was that there was a consistent attempt to keep the fighting sequences practical. For instance, you wouldn’t have a gun that normally carries only 12 rounds just go on shooting an infinite amount of bullets. There was almost a video game type of feel where the characters had to scavenge for ammo or weapons. Furthermore, the characters weren’t invincible compared to other action movies within the same genre. (I’m looking at you Fast & the Furious franchise) Despite the fact that this is a movie, John Wick 3 at least still pretends to keep Wick within reason by giving them realistic injuries. That level of attention to detail is certainly appreciated.
Along with the action scenes, John Wick 3 took notes from John Wick 2 by infusing more humor. Within the fights themselves, you can definitely tell that the movie is not taking itself seriously, and it also manages to provide a lot of fan service as well. Wick can be shown going an extra mile to kill his enemies in such an exaggerated way that you simply can’t help but laugh most times. The comedy doesn’t stop with just the fights either. The banter between the combatants is also pretty humorous, which again is more of the same from the previous film.
One thing that made the action scenes so thrilling to watch was the solid cinematography used within the scenes. One of the standout scenes that caught my eye was the motorcycle chase. It was already a fast paced scene, but having the camera set on another motorcycle during the sequence was a pretty effective way to keep audiences engaged. By having that close up view, in the midst of a high speed chase, the high intensity of the film continued to deliver.
As I mentioned before, while the action and fighting is definitely the bread and butter of this movie, another great component comes from the supporting cast and new characters. I know that Keanu Reeves is the main actor, and he does a fine job for sure. However, I think the real standouts in terms of acting came from the other actors such as Ian McShane for instance. His performance as “Winston” was certainly humorous and delightful when we got a chance to get a bit more insight on his relationship with Wick. Another character and performance that was solid came from Asia Kate Dillon, who played “The Adjudicator”. She had a real commanding presence on screen shrouded by a bunch of mystery. I was certainly intrigued whenever she was on screen and her motives or actions didn’t disappoint when they were revealed. I suppose while I wasn’t a major fan of Halle Berry’s dramatic moments in the movie, I will give her tons of credit for the great work she put in during the fight choreography scenes.
Seeing as though I certainly don’t want to fall victim to speciesism, I want to take a moment here and highlight the animals on set for this film. The horses and their scenes were a fun treat. However, the dogs in this movie were the real stars that certainly threatened to steal the entire show. The training staff who got these dogs prepped for the fight scenes should receive some recognition too. The dogs were absolutely amazing, and if it’s possible, I certainly believe that they should be nominated in some capacity for “Best Supporting Actor” awards. (This is not up for debate.)
Lastly, I think the most intriguing and captivating aspect for this film is how it continues to build on the assassin universe. The world building within the John Wick franchise has always been a major draw. In my opinion, that has led fans to continue wanting to learn more within these films. What I found the most fascinating is the strict adherence to the rules that bind all of the assassins and their respective groups. I think that is essential for any movie to clearly define how things work in their world so that way audiences can remain invested in how the characters interact with those rules. John Wick 3 explored some of the deepest levels of the rules and assassin network in a way that would almost come off as a sort of religious lore.
One of the best highlights of the first two John Wick films was that the fighting choreography was the most essential element of the film. Same rings true for this third installment, except there were far more instances where the editing could have been much tighter. What ended up happening was that there were a number of scenes that felt more staged than authentic. This was more noticeable with the scenes that involved the main actors such as Keanu or Berry. The scenes in question would show a villain or henchman, for example, patiently waiting to be either punched or shot. I think that could’ve been fixed by having closer editing done to hide some of that, but I also understand the director’s desire to keep a longer, flowing shot. Those types of long takes, especially in action sequences, feel so much more authentic and practical when they can be pulled off. At the same time, there’s an inherit risk if the choreography isn’t practically perfect during those scenes because they can temporarily take you out of the moment. The only reason I’m even bringing this up is because of the standard the previous John Wick movies established when it came to their beautiful fight choreography. So I’m only judging John Wick 3’s fight scene and edits within the franchise, and not among the tons of other action movies that have been made. I should also note that while this was an evident misstep in the movie, it probably won’t bother most people as this is a rather minor issue. Even when I did notice these things, I got over it pretty quickly because the movie throws so much other good stuff at you.
One other minor issue is that I wasn’t a big fan of a certain scene or character in the movie. Obviously I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll just say that this scene felt like it went too high in terms of the story telling. It probably would’ve been better had they left this situation or character to be more of a myth or mystery. There was just a sense that it made things feel a little too convenient for the sake of the story, even though there was still a heavy price to pay. I’m pretty sure I’ve said enough, and you’ll know the scene when you see it.
John Wick 3 is a buffet of action that only leaves you wanting more. I think that the film has truly found its stride and knows where it wants to go. The only concern moving forward is whether they can continue to raise the stakes even higher, while at the same time remaining grounded. The absolute worst thing that this film franchise can do is become as ridiculous and unbelievable as the Fast and Furious franchise. (No, we don’t need John Wick 8 in space.) John Wick 3 did exactly what we’d hope for a sequel to do and that was to give us more of the same, with a dash of something new.
If you were wondering where John Wick 3 ranks among the trilogy, I believe that I’d probably still have John Wick 2 as my personal favorite. Main reason is that John Wick 2 exceeded my expectations with the action and world building, and it ended on an extremely suspenseful note. John Wick 3 feels more like John Wick 2.5, except with a bunch more action and fight scenes. Anyway, be sure to check out John Wick 3 if you were a fan of the previous movies. It’s absolutely a treat for action junkies and for the time being, it’s safe to say that John Wick 3 is the best action movie of the year.
Writers: Derek Kolstad and Shay Hatten and Chris Collins & Marc Abrams
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, with Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM is in theaters now. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography - 7.5/107.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 8.5/108.5/10
- Setting/Theme - 9/109/10
- Buyability - 9.5/109.5/10
- Recyclability - 9.5/109.5/10