If you haven’t seen John Wick 1 or 2, spoilers ahead.
It’s back… and it’s as brutal as ever. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, starring Keanu Reeves as the lead in another action-packed and thrill-filled instalment, follows on from chapters 1 and 2. This time round, the rules have changed, and it’s Wick who’s being hunted down. Picking up right from where chapter 2 ended, the super-assassin as we’ve gotten to know him as is being excommunicado by Ian McShane’s character – Winston – with a bounty of $14 million also being set on his head, courtesy of the High Table.
We follow Wick through the disarray of New York, as well as other locations, as he uses his super-assassin skills to escape death… That line pretty much sums up the entire plot, which makes you think why there was a need for multiple screenwriters. Whatever the case may be, it’s time to breakdown and review the movie itself.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, this movie is action heaven. There’s so much choreography that must’ve gone into this movie, and it’s clearly evident through each action-packed scene. The fighting style is as realistic as they get, and with Keanu himself training in the fighting style of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, the realism just goes that one step further.
This movie is just another great and entertaining entry in this franchise, continuing with its distinct style of action. Like the first two chapters, this movie continues to move away from quick-cut action scenes that have become so prominent in current action movies, instead, focusing on more lengthy and detailed action sequences.
If you thought Neo in the Matrix trilogy would be Keanu Reeves’ defining action movie role, you might want to start reconsidering that. This trilogy has become by the far the most consistent in terms of great action movies, taking action to whole new levels through each instalment. While the first Matrix movie was clearly the best out of the trilogy, it would be hard to pick out just one from the John Wick franchise.
Talking about The Matrix, there are a lot of references in this movie referring to Keanu Reeves’ early work in the sci-fi blockbuster, following on from chapter 2’s references. Even in the trailer for Parabellum, the dialogue by Keanu for wanting guns, lots of guns, is a direct link to a piece of dialogue from The Matrix.
What this movie does so well is that it finds the right balance between action and storytelling. Action is a double-edged sword. Too much can cause a movie to completely collapse on itself, over-saturating what the general requirement for action is in a movie like John Wick. It wouldn’t leave enough for character development, especially as it introduces new characters through the expansion of the Wickverse.
Not enough action, however, can cause drag within the storyline, creating tonal shifts and irregularities in terms of the linear storytelling that this plot is set out like. Some parts would become stagnated and boring as we’d wait, wanting the action to begin again. But, Chad Stahelski just does it, somehow he just does it. However, that’s not to say that the movie is completely free of it, though, with a small portion of the movie being somewhat boring.
The distribution of action, however, in terms of different weapons and transportation – i.e. horses – or the way the action sequences are filmed, there isn’t really any piece of action that’s out of place. The entire movie, no, the entire franchise is built around this type of action, and the success has been pretty apparent.
It clearly shows that action movies no longer need to follow the general format of quick cuts and shaky cam, but instead, have wide lenses and long takes that capture what action truly is. With a lead like Keanu Reeves, who went the extra step of learning multiple fighting styles in preparation, this franchise has truly changed the way in which action movies are not only supposed to be perceived but how they are actually going to be made in the future.
Halle Berry’s character, although it may seem like she’s in the movie a lot, is just a side character. However, her action set-pieces and fight choreography are just insanely good, on a level with Keanu Reeves, especially considering the dog aspect of her fight scenes. It’s clearly apparent that Berry did a lot of training, matching not only Keanu Reeves, but also differentiating herself with a unique fighting style.
The movie is undoubtedly a great entry in the action genre. However, much like other action movie franchises, like Mission Impossible, there’s a level of compromise between action and storytelling. While the John Wick movies are built on the foundation of action, that doesn’t mean that storytelling should be left as a second thought. Both action and storytelling should be equal.
It’s not like there isn’t any storytelling and character development at all, it’s just that there are some moments where character choices and motivations don’t necessarily make sense. There is a portion of the movie where Wick comes to this realisation but goes back on that decision about 10-15 minutes later. Although that was a good decision regarding the rest of the movie and the action to come, it’s moments like this that somewhat create an uneven flow for characters.
Action, action, action… it’s been said so many times throughout this review, but there isn’t really another word to use. Like the entire Wick franchise, this instalment doesn’t fall flat on the action scenes, instead, it takes it a notch higher by creating even greater stakes. If you liked the first two, you’re going to like this one as well, plain and simple. And although this movie signalled the end of the trilogy, like the second instalment, it ends on a cliffhanger, meaning that it may not be the end after all. With all that being said, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is evidently a great watch at the cinema, receiving a score of 8/10.
Is It Worth Watching: Yes/No