In Brief: Lots of mayhem and people being killed right and left in bloody knife and gun fights. What’s not to love?
The parabellum in the John Wick: Chapter 3 title is Latin. The translation is “prepare for war.” In this case, the war is The High Table verses John Wick.
In case you can’t remember what happened in the last two John Wick flicks, I accessed Johnwikapedia and did the research for you. Wick is the world’s most dangerous and highest-rated assassin. He gets on the wrong side of The High Table. It is a loosely knit but powerful group of crime bosses that have rules for assassins like Wick.
The faux pax has to do with The Continental in New York City. It is one of the many same-titled safe havens for assassins that do business with this crime syndicate service. The most important rule of all is that you don’t kill anyone within the confines of the Continentals of the world.
In the second film Wick violated that rule and killed a bad guy in New York’s Continental. Parabellum starts with a contract put out on Wick’s life and he’s in a desperate struggle to stay above ground. The point in staying alive — other than to keep breathing — is to give meaning to his deceased wife’s life.
The scramble to dodge death takes him to former colleagues and enemies. And while he’s on the run, a representative of The High Table pops into town to push around those that helped Wick escape after the hit was ordered. She’s a pushy, rule-bound type and wants Wick’s helpers either gone voluntarily or killed.
Actually, everybody you meet in the third John Wick film wants to kill somebody or avoid being killed by those wanting to kill somebody. That leads to knife fights, gun fights and knife fights with guns added and gun fights with knives on the side.
That leads to my cutting remarks. Keanu Reeves reprises the title role and the third time is not necessarily the charm. It’s also not necessarily bad a thing. There is just a little too much in a premise that — from the beginning — has bathed itself in overkill.
There are too many fights, period. Fights take precedent over plot. There were over 120 kills in the second film and I lost count in this one when the body count hit 50. Take half of the kills away and you have a nice 90-minute movie.
Maybe nice is wrong word. There’s nothing nice in all that creative carnage. And this series is — as Wick fans will attest — quite creative.
Credit that to stuntman and stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski who directs again. He also does most of Reeves’ fight scenes and stunts. As I look at it, he’s in the movie more than Reeves. Maybe Stahelski should have given himself a starring role credit and listed Reeves as a co-star.
The screenplays for the first two films were written by Derek Kolstad. He’s listed here but with help from three others. Maybe it’s the three others that help pad the film’s too long story. And this one — with very few scenes that aren’t drawn out battles — is too long. For example, the original film ran 1:40, the second two-minutes over two-hours and this one is 2:10.
Criticism aside, I loved it. Call it guilty pleasure. Or maybe it’s fanboy stuff for Reeves. There never has been much depth to his monosyllabic style of delivery. Substance? Yes. But depth? No. Yet, Reeves has that x-factor that makes him a very good actor. Or maybe he just picks very good projects.
Could be a little of both. However you see it, if this is your thing, enjoy. Oh, and plan on a fourth chapter of the John Wicks saga. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum leaves no doubt there will be least one more.
Maybe it’ll be shorter and more to the point.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Riddick, Asia Kate Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacasos, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui
The third time is still a charm though this one is a bit dragged out. Fun stuff for fans of the Wick series. Give this one a 4 on the Friday Flicks 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.