John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – Movie Review – A neon drenched symphony of violence.

By this point most people know what to expect with the John Wick franchise. The first film was one of 2014’s pleasant surprises, and it’s 2017 sequel did not disappoint either. The third instalment in the trilogy continues right where the last film ended. The titular character portrayed by Keanu Reeves has a $14 million hit on his head, and every assassin in New York City is coming after him.

Anybody who watches these films are likely viewing them, to witness the signature style of “Gun-Fu” action that has defined this franchise. In that department John Wick: Chapter Three delivers to an enormous degree. The opening twenty minutes alone are worth the price of admission. This is a crowd pleaser and you’ll want to see it with the biggest crowd possible. In my screening, myself and the audience were roaring with laughter, applause and audible reactions to the insanely brutal action, in particular the way John kills some of the people he comes across. Most action films will have a few memorable kills at best, this film has at least ten and that’s no exaggeration. At this point it would be completely plausible if John Wick were to be announced as a DLC character for Mortal Kombat 11, because he performed an endless amount of fatalities through out the film. This time round we see John take full advantage of the environment and the items around him, in order to dispatch his enemies and this keeps the kills fresh and exciting.

Director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen manage to conjure up some striking visuals that bring the scenes to life with real flair. The rain soaked streets of New York City illuminate due to the neon lighting of advertisement boards. Even the final act takes place in a meticulously lit room filled with glass walls. So many of the settings used to stage the action are visually rich, which adds so much style to the proceedings. The choreography and stunt work on display is nothing short of exceptional, the action set pieces are lengthy and they all feel distinct from one another. This instalment easily features some of the best action in recent memory. All of it is framed and shot with true finesse. Every single punch, kick and fire of a weapon is clear to follow, and the manner in which the camera manoeuvres around the action is sublime. The sound department deserve a lot of praise as well, they made sure each moment of contact is accompanied by an impactful sound, and they also made sure every gunshot sounds lethal.

Personally I think this is Keanu Reeves’ best action role and he inhabits the character with the same ruthless nature as he did in the two films prior. He does get a couple small moments to showcase sadness and sorrow, which nicely fit within the confines of this film, without feeling too heavy handed. Halle Berry appears as Sofia, a woman John assisted in the past and whilst she’s only present for one sequence, she really does leave a great impression. That being said, it’s her two dogs who truly steal the show. Seeing a mixture of gunfire and dog carnage is deeply satisfying and reminded me of the old Dead to Rights video game. Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne return and they are great in their respective roles. The illusive Adjudicator portrayed by Asia Kate Dillon is a welcome addition to the cast, and I was pleasantly surprised to see The Raid‘s Yayan Ruhian make an appearance during one of the film’s hand to hand combat sequences.

Where John Wick 3 falters is with it’s story. It does build upon the foundations established in the last film. We learn even more about the continental and the high table, but all of that world building comes at the cost of the narrative itself. The story feels rather hollow and somewhat inconsequential once it moves past the first act. Some of the dialogue scenes feel like they drag a little and the overall run time which clocks in at two hours and eleven minutes, definitely could’ve been trimmed.

Whilst there are antagonists within the film, it feels like the script lacks the presence of a true villain who is a physical threat to John. There is one character tracking him down who gets more screen time than the others, but his overall threat level is diminished by some (admittedly) well placed humour.

Up until this point, this franchise has managed to balance grounded realism with over the top action. That being said, something does occur towards the end of this story, that took the film out of the realm of realism for me. It made John seem like he is indestructible. If they do end up making more films, I hope they don’t continue to break the sense of realism.

Overall John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum is a neon drenched symphony of violence that is expertly choreographed and directed. It’s an extremely entertaining action flick that caps off one of the most consistent action trilogies in recent memory.

★ ★ ★ ★

(4 Stars out of 5).

T.Graham.

John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum – Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry and Laurence Fishburne.

Directed by Chad Stahelski.

Now showing in cinemas.

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