JOHN WICK: CHAPTER THREE – PARABELLUM 9 OUT OF 10; Directed by Chad Stahelski; Written by Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams; Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane; Rated R for pervasive strong violence, and some language. Running time 131 minutes; In wide release May 17, 2019.
The first John Wick offered blood-pumping action and thrills that built an immediate fan base with most people after only one viewing. Not to be outdone, the second film upped the ante and built a world unlike any previously realized since the Harry Potter series. Picking up right where that one left off, John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum shows John facing the consequences of his killing of Santino in the Continental lounge. This transgression leads to his being declared “excommunicado” – essentially cut off from resources he has relied on from the High Table, a $14 million bounty on his head, and every assassin in the world gunning for him. So what’s Wick to do in this situation? Well that’s what we find out over the next action-packed and blood-soaked two hours. With an adventure this big, it’s going to take more than one of us to tackle the review, so Kelly and Adam are going to break it down and explain their take on Wick’s third outing.
Kelly: Whatever you do you must see this movie on the big screen. Only that way will you be able to we appreciate its non-stop action. There’s absolutely so much going on at any given moment it’ll take multiple viewings to really appreciate the film.
Adam: Oh, Kelly is absolutely right that this must be experienced on the biggest screen possible. There is so much going on in each frame, that even trying to watch it in my home theater, I feel like I would miss stuff.
Kelly: That being said, John Wick 3 not only ups the ante from its predecessors but it completely topples their kill count. No official number has been released, but I’m pretty sure more people got killed in the first 20 minutes of this film than in the last two movies combined. And we see once again how Wick can turn absolutely anything into a weapon. A pencil? That’s out. In is using a book. a fooking book! And a horse? Well, you just have to see.
Adam: And as was pointed out in this film, the events of all three movies have taken place in only a few weeks in their time. So not only has John Wick been kicking ass, taking punches and getting revenge, he’s been going at it non-stop while we’ve had a year and change between movies to recover.
Kelly: We venture all over New York as Wick tries to escape the assassins determined to win the bounty on his head. But it wouldn’t be much of a movie if they succeeded – at least right away would it? We see once again that Wick is the resourceful man we first met in the original film. His contingencies have contingencies. We also learn a bit more of his backstory, and why he’s associated with Baba Yaga and speaks Russian.
Adam: Adding the whole Russian backstory was actually one of the weaker parts of the story and didn’t really interest me that much. What I enjoyed a lot more was seeing what kind of a man John Wick was without his toys, resources and weapons. Being declared “excommunicado” didn’t just mean that he had a contract at his head, but every single person or place tied to the High Table would turn him away. So what does he do then? Yes, he has the one contingency, but he still shows he’s just as much of a badass as he was with all his guns and weapons. As I said when I came out of the movie, “When are people going to learn not to take a gun to a John Wick fight?”
Kelly: In the sequel, we saw how the Continental is only one piece on the game board; one island in a vast sea of internationally linked hotels and networks, existing to facilitate the aims of the killers bound to the code of the High Table.
We travel from New York to Casablanca, where John reunites with Halle Berry (Sofia). Their relationship is not on the best of terms, but he is able to convince her (and her dogs) to aid him in his quest.
And a quest it is. Part spiritual journey, part video game, this section of the film looks deeper into Wick’s motives. Why is he so determined to live? What will he sacrifice to stay alive? The answer may surprise you – it did me.
Adam: Another reason why I loved part two so much was all the world building riddled throughout; it made it feel like Harry Potter but for assassins. Three takes that foundation and runs with it. We know that the roots of the High Table run deep, but it seems like everyone except we folks watching the movie are part of it, and that’s exhilarating because with our advance knowledge, we get to react to threats like Wick does, since we both know they’re coming. OH, and speaking of Sofia, I absolutely love her and want to see her in a Sofia spin-off or if they do any more sequels. I LOVED the fact that she was easily Wick’s equal and could hold her own as well, if not better, than he could in a fight (murder dogs, anyone?). She was never damselled and didn’t need Wick to back her up if she got into a tight corner. She fought through herself, thank you very much, and was just fine. It was kind of like the Kylo/Rey fight in TLJ, but with more genital mutilation.
Kelly: This film does not skimp on the violence. Or heart-pounding action sequences that look like they took a month to film. The pacing is relentless; I burned calories just watching Wick fight. The squeamish should stay away.
Adam: Oh, it’s not afraid at all. Each Wick films seems to get more and more violent, and had I walked into this one without seeing the others, I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Especially towards the end, when you see what damage a shotgun slug can do. So whether or not it’s a good thing I’m immune to it now, the action scenes and violence are completely over the top and will have the whole audience either gasping or laughing at the absurdity.
People have asked if they need to see the first two in order to understand this one, and the answer is an unequivocal “YES!” There is so much going on here and nods to past references than any newcomers would likely be completely confused or would miss out on half the fun without the knowledge of what came before. But for John Wick fans, you’re going to walk out with the goofiest smile on your face and having tons of conversations with your friends that start with, “Ok, I totally couldn’t believe it when he did …” It’s pure fun, and I can’t wait to go see it again, and maybe I can find an IMAX theater playing it, because I want it on the biggest screen I can! 8.5 out of 10
Kelly: Wholeheartedly recommend this movie. And its predecessors, as Adam said, if you haven’t seen them. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Go. Now. 10 out of 10.