‘Wick 3’ Ratchets up the Action Excellence
If a franchise predicated on a man avenging his dog and car was going to run out of steam, it would happen here in its third installment. John Wick: Chapter 3–Parabellum, however, is the most grandiose of the series and will leave you wanting more.
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3–PARABELLUM ★★★★(4/5 stars)
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Written by: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, and Marc Abrams
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, and Mark Dacascos
Running time: 130 min
Picking up immediately where John Wick: Chapter 2 leaves off, Mr. Wick finds himself “excommunicado” from the shadow society made up of all the incredibly polite and proper denizens of The Continental Hotel we’ve come to love. As a result, Mr. Wick can no longer partake in the bespoke services we learned about in the last film, like the tactical suit tailor, the sommelier arms dealer, or the old man who patches wounds. There’s also a $14 million contract on his head. All of New York City seems to be a sleeper cell of assassins with Mr. Wick in their crosshairs.
With this simple setup, Wick 3 manages to continue expanding its universe and remixing the things that made its predecessors keep our attention. Sick of seeing headshots? Let’s introduce ballistic helmets. Did the dog storyline hook you in the first installment? Here are two very good boy attack dogs at the command of a very invested Halle Berry.
Whenever it seems that the overt bureaucracy that governs all of the motivations in the Wick universe might get tired, they introduce a new wrinkle to keep things fun and interesting. And I’ll frankly never get tired of an operator’s room full of pinup ladies using switchboards and retro tech to text assassins updates on contracts and red-tape announcements.
The self-awareness of the first film caught the attention of action lovers. It had distinct callouts to action staples like Point Blank and The Man From Nowhere. It seems with each new addition to the franchise the self-awareness ratchets up the violence, and the callouts grow more recent. In this case, it’s hard not to notice the influence of Indonesian instant classic The Raid: Redemption, especially with the inclusion of Yayan Ruhian in the case.
And then there’s simply the quality of the action itself. Halle Berry commits to being no less than equal to Keanu Reeves in terms of choreographed gunplay, and the addition of trained attack dogs takes things to a new level this time around. Only the recent The Night Comes For Us might best this film’s inventiveness in terms of kills and sheer violence. Everything from knives and machetes to horses and books (!) gets the weapon treatment.
These films understand that a reload can be just as entertaining as a killshot. They also know how to balance humor with both the ultra-violence and the air of propriety on which they hang their hat.
Betting that this franchise will slow down is like betting against Mr. Wick himself. This is a franchise of focus. The franchise you call to kill other franchises in the night. I once saw this franchise kill three other franchises with a pencil. A pencil!
John Wick: Chapter 3 –Parabellum is in theaters now. Make a blood oath to see it or you will be excommunicado and your life will be forfeit.