It all began with a dog. The John Wick films have garnered plenty of attention over the years, specifically for the exceptionally brutal action choreography which is some of the best the genre has seen to date. The mix of close-quarters-combat and intense gunplay has created a formula that director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves have mastered to the point of being faultless in this threequel.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum takes everything that what was loved about the previous two chapters, brings it all up a few notches, and results in one of the best action films and one of the greatest action trilogies of all time. Set directly after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2 which saw Wick with a $14M bounty on his head, he is now on the run with every assassin in New York and around the world wanting a piece of that prize money. If you want an indication of what to expect in this sequel, just look to the title which tells you all you need to know… “prepare for war”.
This is all-out chaos from beginning to end, rarely giving you a chance to breathe between action sequences, as our protagonist of very few words takes his efforts to survive to some extreme lengths, putting all his skills on show. The variety of action sequences in here is so vast you go from knife fights to gun fights and book fights to dog fights. Every fight sequence is entirely unique in terms of the location, weapons, and the cinematography. Each one acts as a refresher from the last and continues to one-up itself with the insanity of some of the stunt. This is a film where at least 60% of it is comprised of lengthy action sequences and the rest is tense build-up between these scenes.
You’ll be holding your breath through every action sequence as you wonder how The Boogeyman is going to take out his enemies and in what beautifully choreographed way. With Chad Stahelski in the directors chair there’s no doubt you will get some insane stunts and hand-to-hand combat because the guy is a certified master at his craft. It’s exhausting, but exhausting in a good way. The action will literally take your breath away as it’s some of the most grounded yet insane action ever witnessed on screen.
The delivery of that action would not be nearly as polished if it wasn’t being conducted with Keanu Reeves at the helm who has become as synonymous with the John Wick character as with Neo from The Matrix, if not more. What really sells it is that Reeves is the one doing at least 90% of all of the insane action and stunts that you see on screen. It enhances that connection with the audience, makes filming the choreography that much easier, and results in an all-round more fulfilling experience. But Reeves isn’t the only one in here contributing to the incredible action sequences. Halle Berry has her own moments to shine in here and kicks total ass selling you on the fact that she’s really pulling all this off. She has help from her canine companions who also get their fair share of the spotlight.
On the other side of the good vs bad spectrum are the performances from Marc Dacascos, who plays the assassin Zero, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman who both play shinobi. Dacascos, as well as putting in a stellar villainous performance, contributes greatly to the action in the film. He goes toe-to-toe with Wick on a few occasions and made for a thrilling threat who remained consistent through it all. But honestly, Ruhian and Rahman impressed me more with their scenes which were honestly some of my favourite in the film. The way they test Wick with their martial arts and blade skills had me on the edge of my seat with some phenomenally choreographed action.
As far as the story goes, it’s very straightforward. There are a number of surprises and turns along the way but as far as the main objective goes, Wick is trying to survive from the outset, and this is him going to great lengths to do so. The story is constantly on the move, jumping back and forth between Wick’s journey and Asia Kate Dillon‘s The Adjudicator who has her own mission over the course of the story. I loved every minute of this and the pacing never missed a beat, except for one sequence. As is seen in the trailers, Wick’s mission leads him away from New York for a certain side-mission. This is all great, however once Wick takes a trip to find a certain character I have to admit it does slow down just a tad. It’s engaging story content for sure, however in contrast to the rest of the film it’s a bit of an intermission marking the half-way point of the story, and what’s to come.
On top of this, the performances from the returning supporting cast are still on point. This includes Ian McShane (Winston), Lawrence Fishburne (Bowery King), and Lance Reddick (Charon) whose presences are all greatly felt. Let’s not forget to mention the phenomenal visuals. The film plays around with a few different interior and exterior environments, all of which are utterly beautiful and stunning locations for an all out bloodbath.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, as much as the title is a bit of a mouthful, I wouldn’t hesitate to throw around the term ‘action masterpiece’ when regarding this one. It’s non-stop thrills from beginning to end and despite the small 10 minute dip in pace there wasn’t a single second I wasn’t entirely engaged. In the lead-up to the third act I could have leapt out of my seat in excitement if I wasn’t a firm follower of cinema etiquette. It’s a shining light in the modern action genre which doesn’t see many quality thrillers like this and a genuine must see for any action fan.