John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
John's back, and he means business… again.
When Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski, the actor’s old Matrix stunt double, unleashed John Wick onto the world in 2014, it’s doubtful they knew what a monster it would become, but here we are with Chapter 3.
Franchise fan Reeves is back for a third time as dog-loving assassin Mr Wick, with the story picking up where 2017’s second film left off. We’re in New York, there's a $14 million bounty on John’s head, and he has been declared "excommunicado" from the Continental hotels, a gangster's haven where no blood can be shed – a rule the former hitman flouted in Chapter 2 when he killed Italian crime lord Santino D'Antonio at the hotel’s New York branch.
In the last movie, New York Continental owner Winston (Ian McShane) gave his old friend John a head start before announcing his excommunicado status, and it served him well, as Wick is still alive, albeit slightly beat up.
It's soon apparent though that every gangster and shadowy figure in the Big Apple is after him, and after an opening which involves knives, horses and even library books, it’s clear our protagonist is not yet ready to roll over.
He seeks refuge at a Russian ballet theatre, where he calls in a favour from The Director (Anjelica Huston), who he reminds is bound to help him. Although reluctant, she grants him safe passage to Casablanca, where John is on the hunt for The Elder (Said Taghmaoui) to beg for his life.
At the same time, back in New York, The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) is dispatched by the High Table, a council of high-level crime lords, to punish those who were in any way connected to Wick's slaying of D'Antonio. In her sights is the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), a crime lord who uses carrier pigeons and a network of faux homeless bums dotted around New York, and Winston, who she strips of his beloved hotel after he gave John his much-needed head start. Although they play by their own set of deadly rules, the High Table takes their stipulations seriously, and a breach of their laws has fatal repercussions.
So now it’s not just our leading man who’s in a pickle, but his associates too.
Like the previous chapters, Parabellum is an all-out bloodbath of a movie, which never once takes itself too seriously. Reeves only gets funnier in the role, and whether accidental or done on purpose, the actor provides plenty of laugh out loud moments.
The action is also ramped up a notch (how is that even possible?!) though, like John Wick 2, the fight scenes can drag. If each violent sequence shaved a few minutes off, the feature would come in at a much more tolerable run time – 130 minutes is just too long. And again, like the last movie, it can sometimes slip into shooter video game territory.
As well as Reeves, McShane and Fishburne, Lance Reddick makes a welcome return as Continental concierge Charon. Halle Berry is a nice addition to the franchise as Sofia, another dog-mad assassin who owes John a favour, or as gangsters call it, a marker - an unbreakable promise symbolised by a blood oath medallion - as is Mark Dacascos as lethal sushi chef Zero. And Dillon is great as the cold, non-nonsense Adjudicator.
A fourth chapter is almost a dead cert, but with the winning team of Reeves and Stahelski making action movies fun again, this is a franchise that, like our hero, could run and run.
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