If Hollywood wants to know how to execute one the most deliciously fun franchises in film history, they need to look no further than the John Wick franchise. This is a franchise that has only gotten better with each new installment, building off of its predecessor. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is no exception. Picking up literally minutes after Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves) was declared ex-communicato from the Hotel Continental for conducting “business” on the grounds, we see Mr. Wick and his dog running through the streets of New York City. He has been given a one hour head start before the fourteen million dollar bounty on his head goes international.
That does not mean a few assassins won’t try to take him out early, wounded and harried he seeks refuge from anyone he can get. It is with The Director, a Russian matriarch (Angelica Huston), that John calls in a favor. We also learn John Wick’s birth name and some of his roots. These are the kinds of elements that make this franchise so darn good. They pepper details of this world throughout the films and have created a world that is simply fascinating. The world of John Wick and the Continental Hotel seem to exist in their own universe. Business is done, deals are made, loyalties are tested and choices are made.
I will not divulge any more of the plot for John Wick 3, suffice to say that this film is every bit as fun, exciting, clever with a dry wit that the other films are. There is not one dull moment. The action and stunt work is simply awe-inspiring. Of course, it helps to have a former stunt man behind the camera, Chad Stahelski, who has directed every one of the John Wick films, so far. He has done an incredible job, too. Each film is distinctive and fresh despite having a continuing plot that unfolds from film to film. Each one has new details and a novel feel to them, not mention a bonafide action star in the form of Keanu Reeves.
Say what you want about his acting (I have always maintained he can act, just watch him The Devil’s Advocate along side Al Pacino), Keanu Reeves sells the action just about as good as Stallone or Schwarzenegger do and with scripts, penned by creator Derek Kolstad and fellow writers Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Mark Abrams, that are intelligent with rich characters, villains and objectives that are compelling. John Wick has it all. This time around Halle Berry makes an appearance as Sofia. She can go toe to toe with John in the same close up fight sequences and is a joy to watch.
At one point, the film switches from New York City to Casablanca and even takes on a Bond film feel to it, before it returns to New York City. Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) are being held accountable for their actions in John Wick Chapter 2. The High Table has send The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) in to rectify their alleged misdeeds and she activates Zero (Mark Dacascos) and his band of murderous thugs to dispatch Mr. Wick. Anyone who knows about Mark Dacascos and his real life history as a martial artist knows that John Wick will have his hands full. Dacascos is the perfect villain for Mr. Wick. Even the concierge, Charon (Lance Reddick) is given a lot to do in this film and it wisely expands his character, as well. Every character is expanded upon and it only enhances the rest film. The filmmakers know exactly what they are doing.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is a masterpiece of action and stunts. It certainly keeps the franchise chugging along, nicely and it leaves the franchise open for another film. The cinematography by Dan Lausten, the editing by Evan Schiff are spectacular and a terrific score by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard are all included. Director Chad Stahleski is currently writing the script for a film from the world of John Wick, aptly titled, The Continental. One can only imagine what will come of that and there is a John Wick series being planned on Netflix. If they can keep the material fresh, inventive and compelling I will be there.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – ****3/4 out of 5
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – Rated R for language, graphic, bloody violence
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – Run time is 131 minutes and there are no scenes during the end credits and no post credit scenes, either.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.