The first John Wick was such a pleasant surprise. Keanu Reeves’ career had slipped into a rut as the actor was starring in films that were not very good. The arrival of John Wick brought him back to doing movies that were well received and entertaining.
John Wick Ch. 2 was good, but did not reach those heights.
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum falls somewhere between those two.
In Chapter 3, John Wick is on the run, trying to avoid all of the assassins in New York after he killed a member of the shadowy assassin guild named the High Table, John Wick was declared excommunicado and a huge bounty was placed on his head.
The bounty forced Wick to take drastic steps to attempt to get back into the good graces of the High Table.
Now, the story here is about as basic as you are going to get. There are a bunch of assassins and hitmen chasing after John Wick and John has to kill them all in exceedingly dramatic and inconceivable ways in order to survive. That’s about it. Despite the film’s attempt at world building with its mysterious High Table or its rules and regulations that the assassins must follow, there really isn’t much more to the movie than that.
However, the action in this movie is so great you do not focus on the film’s narrative shortcomings. Some of the action scenes are ridiculous, but they know they are and audience members can embrace that fact. I found myself laughing several times at the results of the viciousness and I was shocked at what they showed me. The action scenes are filmed with a ton of style and the violence level is way up there. It is brutal and the choreography of these fights are astounding. It makes for some serious thrills.
Unfortunately, there were some parts near the end that I found a bit boring, almost tedious. There are only so many action sequences that I can see before I need something more, and Parabellum was approaching that limit. Thankfully, most of the action is done so well and is so original that the stretches where I found the film dull were short and did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie.
Keanu Reeves plays John Wick perfectly. There may not be a better character for Reeves to play. He hits the action beautifully while delivering the humor well too.
Ian McShane returns as Winston, manager of the Continental, and brings his normal gravitas. Halle Berry’s role was short but impactful. She definitely had some back story that I would not have minded learning about as the film progressed and she made a nice companion for John Wick. Two LOST alums were here with Lance Redding resuming his role of Charon, the concierge of the Continental, and Saïd Taghmaoui as the Elder of the High Table. The character I enjoyed most outside of John Wick was the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) who returned from previous installments and had Fishburne chewing up scenery all around him. Seeing Fishburne and Reeves together once again was a cool treat.
The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) was an emissary of the High Table who arrived on the scene to dole out punishments for the last movie’s rule breakers. She was not very engaging of a villain and seemed to exist merely as a plot point between Wick and Winston. Zero (Mark Dacascos) made for a much more compelling villain, almost a John Wick opposite and the conflict between Wick and Zero was entertaining.
I would have liked more story than what I got, but the action made up for that with some amazing choreography and thrilling, violent imagery. John Wick clearly is being set up to continue the franchise so hopefully they can find that nice balance between action and story. Until then, let’s blow some heads off.