John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum trades storyline and plot points for continuous non-stop action and inventive gunplay. Keanu Reeves solidifies himself as an action superstar, while director Chad Stahelski comes up with even more ways to fist fight, car chase and shoot out in the most adrenaline-fueled sequel of all-time. John Wick 3 might not be perfect, but its a banging good time.
Director Chad Stahelski outdoes himself yet again, with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the latest guns-blazing entry in this now instant-classic saga of seedy assassins, cool cars, cute dogs and endless violence that is almost always finding new ways to impress. What Stahelski and his crew manages to accomplish from a technical standpoint makes Parabellum a downright masterpiece, despite the film’s story wearing itself too thin and the plot not making much sense at all.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum kicks off immediately after the events of Chapter 2, which leaves the titular hero on the run from a global assassin corporation after breaking a major rule that essentially kicks him out of the club and leaves him with a massive price tag on his head.
Now, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) must resort to old allies and familiar faces to keep himself alive and to stay off the grid long enough to think up a plan that will keep his heart beating without a constant neck-ache from looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
Parabellum does a fine job introducing new characters (see: Halle Berry), while also bringing back established ones (see: Laurence Fishburne & Ian McShane). The problem with this mix-and-match is that Stahelski’s never-ending list of writers spend minimal time progressing the characters or giving them a purpose that extends beyond helping John get out of a temporary tight spot.
There’s an underlying plot that coasts on by until the abrupt ending, which is surely going to piss of a lot of folks, but I understand what they’re trying to do and unfortunately the current movie climate calls for such measures to be taken.
The plus side of the thin story and lacking plot is that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is loaded with insane action that pushes the medium of film and the genre to all-new heights. These were once described as gun-fu movies and that just simply isn’t true as Parabellum introduces more knives, horses, motorcycles and dogs.
Yes, some of the gunplay grows old as John lands headshot after headshot in almost perfect fashion, but the hand-to-hand fighting is beefed up with expansive shots that feel longer, better prepared and perfectly executed. There’s an opening knife fight that stuck with me throughout the entire film, because of its fluidity and camera placement, mixed with the fast-paced nature of the fight — too often the fights start to slow down as performers catch their breath and “take their turn” fighting the star, which can come across as fake or uninspired.
Luckily for us, Parabellum keeps the momentum almost always moving, with John globe-trotting and diving deeper into the established criminal underworld as he prepares for an all-out war against the High Table and their hired guns.
The mythology behind the world of John Wick does lack its usual charm as Parabellum kicks into high gear and revisits familiar territories, but there’s just so much fun and excitement that the average viewer is going to look right past all of this.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is a groundbreaking achievement for the stunt department and the choreography group as it presents some of the sharpest martial arts on film, especially for American audiences. The story might suffer from feeling too drawn out or not focused on enough, but Keanu Reeves and the stunt team make up for those shortcomings by raising the bar again and again, to the point where the ending absolutely smashes you in the face like a pair of brass knuckles.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum burns bright and fast, making way for an epic explosion of cinematic excitement that is the very definition of entertainment. Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves cannot seem to make a bad movie and that’s one awesome fact that I hope remains true for years to come.