I’m going to assume anyone reading this has at least already seen the first John Wick movie, and I’m not going to give a lot of backstory. But for those of you savages who have not done yourself the service of having your mind blown by this amazing film, I’ll sum it for you:
“A group of bad guys angered that a man at a gas station won’t sell them his classic car. So they follow him home, beat him senseless, trashes his home, and worst of all… kills his dog. That man turns out to be one of the greatest assassins of all time. And he gets his revenge in the most creatively violent ways ever filmed!”
I’m also not going to go too deep into John Wick 2 (because, again, you should be watching these epic movies and not reading about it), but John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the latest entry in the series, literally starts where the last film ended. So we are right in the thick of it with John (Keanu Reeves) on the run after killing one of the heads of the Assassins Guild. Only receiving a slight head-start from his friend(ish) Winston (Ian McShane), John has nothing but minutes to get out of New York before every assassin in the city takes the contract to eliminate him.
“…John has nothing but minutes to get out of New York before every assassin in the city takes the contract to eliminate him.”
What complicates things even further is the fact that guild sends in their Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillan) to officially oversee the that not only John Wick is taken out, but also those associated with him and aided him are punished for their participation. And for those who watched John Wick 2, that includes the leader of the sewer assassins, The Bowery King (Laurence Fishbourne) and The Director (Angelica Houston) of the Russian ballet.
Eventually, John finds a way out of New York, but, it’s still not “easy sailing.” The Assassins Guild stretches worldwide, and he realizes he has no real way out except for going to the man at the very top and making a blood-deal. To reach this mystery figure, he needs the help of an old acquaintance/love interest, Sophia (Halle Berry), who is pretty deadly herself.
Part of the fun of watching this film is never knowing who is an assassin and who isn’t. From the waitress at a diner to the homeless man pushing his broken shopping cart, anybody is a potential threat. But when the killers do reveal themselves, it’s the best “bullet ballet” ever filmed. The fight coordination alone deserves its own academy award. There is a sequence, where John and Sophia are fighting off a group of baddies using her attack-dogs as weapons, that was absolutely jaw-dropping!
And for those of us old enough to remember, there are scenes where you can see where director Chad Stahelski pulls from cult films like the 1979 classic, The Warriors when John is being chased throughout New York City. And towards the very end of the film, any cinephile worth his salt will recognize the Bruce Lee Game of Death/Enter the Dragon sequence John has to maneuver his way through to get to his final adversary.
“…the expanding world-building of this series has been exceptional!”
The John Wick series is what it is. Basically, it’s just a good beer and popcorn flick. It doesn’t go out of its way to be deeper than it actually is. But at the same time, without getting too “film-geeky,” the expanding world-building of this series has been exceptional! Seeing where the series started, to where it is now, opens all kinds of possibilities for future spin-offs with various characters.
Is John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum worth seeing?
The obvious answer is, HELL YES! It checks all the boxes you want in a fun, summer action film while not insulting your intelligence. Are some scenes over the top? Sure. I will even say that some scenes went on a little too long, and were a little too “unbelievable” at times. At the end of the day, this is a world of eccentric assassins, so you just have to check some things at the door. But, if you can get past it, I can promise you will be thoroughly entertained.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) Directed by Chad Stahelski. Written by Derek Kolstad. Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishbourne, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, and Anjelica Houston.
9 OUT OF 10
Film Threat Staff Reviews
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellem does not disappoint with its non-stop action-style the first two films. Kolstad and Stahelski keep the action fresh and original and pretty bloody gruesome. Take the action away and you’re left with a very short plot. This very short plot is also missing its heart from the first two films—the heart being his dead wife and his dead dog.
8 out of 10 stars