John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, 2019.
Directed by Chad Stahelski.
Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, Jerome Flynn, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tiger Hu Chen, Asia Kate Dillon, and Jason Mantzoukas.
John Wick goes from revenge driven hunter to most hunted man alive as he runs from a $14 million dollar bounty with no friends left to turn to.
The journey and evolution that John Wick (the character) has gone on leading up to and including this new sequel John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum is amazing in the way that it has so closely reflected the evolution of the franchise itself. From a seemingly humble retired assassin to most hunted in the world the mirroring the original small action film growth into a mega action franchise is astounding. That said whilst John Wick himself seems to be able to handle more waves of assailants killing in ever more creative ways, I feel that as a film the continuous onslaught has bloated this to the point of bigger but by no means better than its predecessors.
John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum (even the title feels a bit too much) does pick up straight where Chapter 2 left off, with John on the run preparing himself for what he knows will be the fight of his life with every major assassin out there gunning for him. It certainly doesn’t disappoint with fight scenes coming early and often, the first half hour of the film having multiple different fight sequences, taking the gruesomeness up a notch from previous films and some incredible close action work. All the hand to hand moments from start to finish are shot brilliantly and truly exhilarating.
It’s once we get away from the fighting though that things start to go off for me. A big part of the John Wick franchises success has been its world building and myth making. Characters with even seemingly small parts become bigger and more involved, such as Winston (Ian McShane) the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and the Director (Angelica Huston) getting those kind of moments in this film to do that. Angelica Huston in particular gets some the best work, bringing in more of John’s past and adding genuine intrigue. As soon as things go international though it all starts getting a bit convoluted.
Halle Berry (as fellow assassin and Continental manager Sofia) gets quite short shrift with the world building element, adding an extra but not overly enjoyable additional layer. That whole segment was where I started to feel like this franchise was becoming a victim of its own success, where coherent and streamline story telling fell to the wayside for the spectacle of a dog fight (quite literally) in a Moroccan Souk.
That said the performances on the whole were all of the highest order. Keanu Reeves continues to portray both the intensity and world weariness of the character, with all actors having a memorable moment. Asia Kate Dillon (The Adjudicator) and Mark Dacascos (Zero) play parts that I don’t necessarily like but are so good whenever they’re on screen that I become absorbed with them regardless. Also a definite credit to Fishburne who, like in Chapter 2, manages to do so much with so little.
The colours, the action, the acting and the music were all so perfectly meshed in this film that as a viewing experience it was constantly stimulating and often to the point of pure cinema exhilaration something this franchise has kept up throughout. I felt a tonal shift towards a slight more comic angle in parts, plus a plot that isn’t as sharp as what we’ve seen before mean I felt my (admittedly very high) expectations weren’t quite met. Ambition though should be applauded, even where the execution is not all the way there. Bigger is not always better, but it can still be damn good.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Spencer- Skeen follow me on Twitter