“John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” stars Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane. Released on May 17, 2019, the film has John Wick fighting his way out of New York City when a bounty is placed on his head.
The film is directed by Chad Stahelski, who also directed the last two “John Wick” films, and it is the third installment in the “John Wick” film series. It has been five years since Keanu Reeves regained his audience with “John Wick”, a small action film that became a classic for action junkies and Reeves enthusiasts alike. It was actually quite amazing that a film like “John Wick” was able to put Reeves back on the map during his post-Matrix years. Not only that, but it spawned a well-received franchise that relies on style, stunts, and substance rather than big CGI effects and superheroes. This latest installment from stuntman/director Chad Stahelski is striving to keep that fresh streak going by providing a lot more high stakes for the title character. That’s right, our favorite gun-toting hitman is on the run with a bunch of assassins on his tail. That concept alone sounds like a recipe for a fun summer blockbuster that the adults can enjoy while the kids watch something that involves a dog being reincarnated multiple times. But is it something that I would recommend to newcomers? Probably not, but let’s find out, anyway.
The film takes place minutes after “Chapter 2”, where John Wick (Reeves) has now been declared “excommunicado” as a result of breaking one of the Continental rules. With only his sharp skills and incredible wits by his side, Wick must dodge every bullet, every knife, pretty much everything that causes death in order to make it out of this impossible situation unscathed. If you’re planning on watching this film without watching its predecessors, I would recommend you watch those first so that you can get caught up, especially “Chapter 2”. After watching the first two “John Wick” films, I already knew what I was going to expect from “Chapter 3”, and that's seeing Keanu Reeves be a badass, and to no one’s surprise, I was not disappointed. Like its predecessor, “Chapter 3” once again took the main ingredients that made the original film a hit for critics and audiences and made them just as exciting and brutal as before. Not only that, but it also steered away from the “revenge thriller” formula that we’ve seen in the first two films in favor of a “survival thriller” tale filled with blood and brutalities, which could be described as a nice change of pace for the fans. While the story didn’t quite match the same amount of depth as the original, it was able to make up for it by providing a sense of fun and excitement for its audience despite its broody tone. It just goes to show that movies can be made for entertainment, not just for Oscar-worthy storytelling. It also did a splendid job at exploring the noir-inspired world a bit more as well as John Wick himself. Keanu Reeves delivered another riveting performance as the title character in terms of his acting and his skills onscreen. Similar to the first two films, “Chapter 3” displayed John as both an honored, yet brutal, hitman and a vulnerable person who wants to leave his violent world behind for good and regain his peace. To me, Reeves is the perfect guy to fit in this character’s shoes. The other actors were able to offer some extremely satisfying moments, especially Halle Berry as Sofia, a close friend of John. Despite her role not being as big as I thought it would be, Berry made her appearance count thanks to her incredible performance. I also thought her character was nicely portrayed as a fearless and intimidating woman who doesn’t fool around with anyone. Seriously, if you mess with her, she’ll have her dogs bite your privates off like they were chew toys. I’m not kidding, her dogs actually did that in the film…a bunch of times. That’s how awesome her character was, and I loved it. As for Laurence Fishburne, if you liked him in “Chapter 2”, you’ll like him in this. He was great, enough said. Another major piece of the “John Wick” puzzle was the action sequences. Chad Stahelski knew exactly how to film these types of sequences since he was a stuntman back in the day. They were not only exciting and intense, but they were also effective and brutal thanks to the film’s slick clean editing, the fight choreography, some gorgeous set pieces, and its stunning cinematography. If I had to choose which one’s my personal favorite in the film (without spoilers, of course), it would have to be the sequence that involves John Wick and Sofia in Casablanca. It’s just one of those types of fight scenes that let themselves do the talking. I would also give the film credit for its astonishing musical score by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard. The film didn’t hit all of the right marks, however. Aside from its somewhat flawed plot, there were a couple of action scenes that overstayed their welcome by a couple of minutes. Even though they’re extremely fun to watch, I felt that these overlong scenes might make several newcomers feel either uncomfortable or a bit bored…mostly the former when it comes to the brutalities. If you’re not a fan of films that contain headshots, blood, and violence, I would recommend you look elsewhere because this film has plenty of them.
Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 3” successfully relies on the franchise’s usual qualities to deliver a worthy action-packed “threequel”. Like its title character, the film is flawed, but that didn’t prevent it from shooting its way to the top. The cast was great, the action was fun, the choreography was brilliant, and the story had enough intrigue to make itself as entertaining as the fight scenes. This is another franchise that gets better with each installment, and I’m hoping it will continue that streak with the release of “Chapter 4”. Fans of the franchise will definitely get a kick out of this latest installment. As for the newcomers, I would suggest that they watch the first two “John Wick” films first before they see this one so they won’t get lost as to what’s going on.