‘John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum’ is One Hell of a Ride (FILM REVIEW)

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There’s a good chance that you don’t need to read this. A review of a new John Wick movie is, at this point, pointless. By now I would hope you knew enough about yourself to answer any question you might have about the film on your own. Really, it stems from how you answer the following question: How did you feel about John Wick?

John Wick is about the most discourse averse creation in modern cinematic history. The series wears its heart on its sleeve and never attempts to be anything other than what it is. In that regard, you’re either in or you’re out. Beyond that the discussion is meaningless.

John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum is everything you wanted in a John Wick movie, which is also everything it needs to be. It’s a damn near bloody perfect exercise in gratuitous violence as meticulously choreographed ballet. It’s audacious, it’s over the top, it’s absurd, it’s silly, it’s marvelous, it’s satisfying. It is, if nothing else, John Wick.

We begin just under an hour after the end of the previous film. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has minutes to get whatever he needs in order before he is excommunicado from The Continental and the tantalizing price of $14,000,000 is put on his head. With that, every assassin in the world and all the resources of The High Table will be used to squash him from existence. Allies are enemies. Enemies seek him. With nowhere to run and no one to turn to John Wick is forced to do what John Wick does best: Murder. Everyone.

Like its immediate predecessor, Parabellum continues to build on the shockingly fascinating mythos of The Continental. At this point, the world of John Wick is at least as amazing as all the ways the filmmakers have figured out to have John Wick kill people (which, in this go around, includes a fantastic use of a book). The Continental has always been the main source of interest for this series; a movie cannot live and die by murder alone. As ever, the film does a wonderful job at suggesting more than it outright reveals, laying the groundwork for almost infinite expansion in an equal number of directions.

Not only do we get the smallest of tastes of John Wick’s backstory, which involves Anjelica Huston and ballet because of course it does (and, incidentally, has whet my appetite for the proposed prequel TV series that has been kicking around for some time now—gimme more of that, ASAP) but we also get more insight into the machinations of The High Table.

This time it comes in the form of The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), a kind of judge sent to help clean up the mess caused by John Wick’s transgressions in Chapter 2. Her bureaucratic efficiency adds a layer of coldness to the calculations of The High Table and adds a tantalizing depth to how the shadowy organization operates. At this point, the world building of the series has become so adept that we almost don’t even need John Wick to allow us to keep exploring it.

Pick a character from this movie—whether it be Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King, Halle Berry’s Sofia, Ian McShane’s Winston, or Mark Dacascos’s (!!!!) Zero—and you already have an amazing starting point for a spin off or prequel. Even if they ever finish John Wick’s story, there’s a limitless wealth of material to allow them to keep exploring and expanding on the world without watering down what came before it.

That’s almost more fun than the action—which is admittedly pretty damn fun. Like its predecessors, there’s no time to catch your breath and none of that pesky waiting around. Director Chad Stahelski knows why you’re here and boy does he deliver. By now, I half expected them to be out of ways to make Reeves killing everyone he sees interesting. I was wrong. As ever, we shift from action set piece to action set piece with each scene taking us to another deliciously extravagant fight to the death that is so over the top that the top effectively no longer exists. Holding it all together, of course, is the choreography. The John Wick series has always moved and felt like a ballet, intricately staged and meticulously blocked to keep John Wick’s rampages as fun as possible while adding some incredibly exciting new elements to the mix as well.

But you probably already knew or suspected all this coming in. The John Wick series is masterful at knowing what it is and delivering that best possible version of what they do; Parabellum is no different. If you liked the first two, you’ll like the latest edition. If you didn’t, there’s no reason to think this one will change your mind. With John Wick your only two choices are to strap in or tune out. For those who choose to strap in, make sure you do it tightly. The ride is about to get even wilder.

John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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