John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.

Release Date: May 17th, 2019 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Chad Stahelski Actors: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman

 


 

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icking up directly after the events of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” “Parabellum” finds the titular character (Keanu Reeves) with a mere hour before he is officially “excommunicado,” a designation that will banish him from the safety of the Continental Hotel and it’s manager Winston (Ian McShane). With every assassin in New York intent on collecting the $14 million bounty on Wick’s head, the lethal juggernaut must fight his way through the city to reach a former associate (Anjelica Huston) who can procure him passage to Morocco. Once there, the notorious “boogeyman” joins forces with Sofia (Halle Berry), the manager of Casablanca’s branch of the Continental, to negotiate his way out of his dire situation. But it’s a long, infernal journey ahead of him as the affronted “High Table” organization sends wave after wave of their finest executioners to stop Wick from accomplishing his mission.

Making no effort to disguise its “Chapter 3” status, this trilogy-closer (or, perhaps not) dives right into a story that wasn’t quite finished from before. Wick is on the run, soaked in rainwater, alone, unarmed, bloodied, and with a dog in tow, seeking a haven from seemingly hundreds of hitmen. Good odds, insists Winston. No recap exists to fill in viewers; the film resumes mere minutes after the end of the prior installment, waiting a negligible amount of time before getting into the stabbing, the close-quarters combat, and the extreme violence.

“Life is suffering.” Once again, the brutality is so barbaric that it doesn’t just border on comedy, it leaps straight into outright laughs. From graphic wounds to face-pulping pummeling (with fists and handy objects alike), the action is intense and virtually nonstop. Even the one or two compassionate characters are prone to bloodthirstiness; everyone is ruthless – maybe his allies more than his enemies. As if a video game, hordes of opponents tumble into various arenas of destruction to soak up his bullet-spraying and knife-hucking fury; fashionably, he’s careful to replace his tie and suit coat after impromptu surgery, since being well-dressed is far more important than being comfortable.

Admittedly, there’s an admirable creativity in the savage excess, avoiding repetition early on by utilizing varied violence and continually changing weaponry. From one set piece to the next, fresh fashions of bodily harm are devised, providing unrelenting action in place of a story. Of course, no one really anticipates an attention to character development or storytelling by this third outing, which is little more than an excuse to rack up a high-tally bodycount.

Some CG is noticeable, but the stunts are consistently phenomenal, which is occasionally enough to distract from the silliness of the Continental and its exhaustive rules for murderers. It’s rarely believable that any hired goon would adhere to the nonsensical riddles and tiresome customs of an international conglomeration of comprehensively organized crime. When this extends to the furthest reaches of an African desert, it’s more than ridiculous. But Keanu is still entertainingly proficient in one-word speeches, wriggling his way out of insuperable situations, and mostly keeping up with younger, faster martial artists. There’s always a way out and there’s always a path to a sequel.

Curiously, despite the expected escalation in energy from one film to the next in a series (and from one scene to the next), this entry works backwards, opening with the best action sequence and then struggling to match it during each subsequent clash. Brief respites for humor (villain Dacascos is irregular but amusing to see in a big-budget endeavor), some Jackie Chan-styled fighting, and vengeful dogs become the high points, while the protracted finale, overflowing with heavy-hitting yet underwhelming skirmishes, is a strangely disappointing lull (mixing “Enter the Dragon” with “The Man with the Golden Gun”). But nobody takes anything too seriously, allowing for the audience to enjoy the butchery and forget the absurdity of the characters’ conducts.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10