Anyone can make a bland, bullet-ridden summer action flick and then degrade its message with 17 sequels spanning several generations. The “John Wick” movies, all directed by Chad Stahelski, do none of that. In fact, they have brought a new generation of hip action films to a now increasingly bland Hollywood, and what a better way to finally beat out Avengers: Endgame.
For those of us with parents who were children of the ‘70s and ‘80s, many of us were exposed to a whole world of well-done classic action movies. There were Eastwood, Bronson, Stallone, Schwarzenegger and even Chuck Norris — all timeless. All we seem to have now are superhero movies, billion-dollar franchises and remakes of those classics.
The first “John Wick” movie brought us to the underground world of New York City, where crime syndicates all rule in a stylized, feudal state in the midst of regular society — where one person can annihilate everything in his path over a stolen car and a dead puppy. “John Wick: Chapter Two” did everything that we all wanted and more; it expanded the cinematic universe of the underground world in which they all live in, and how it is organized. It introduced us to a whole world of characters and possibilities for different movies, but it was somewhat lacking in story and purpose.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” does what the third movie of every franchise should do — gets creative. It continues to expand its own universe, setting it up for further sequels. There are a lot of uniquely directed fighting scenes, from riding horseback in New York City to Halle Berry incorporating two very lovable attack dogs as assistants in a mass firefight.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is a film designed to appeal to a wide variety of moviegoers, without overdoing it. It’s a great film for action lovers, obviously — especially those who appreciate the plausible reality of the fighting scenes and gunplay of the first two films. While other movies have gun fights that seem cheesy and unrealistic, the “John Wick” movies are some of the first to incorporate real three-gun competition shooting tactics, which makes us all appreciate the work they did to make it more authentic.
Aside from gunplay, the third chapter has a significant amount of intense martial arts scenes. In fact, John Wick ,played by Keanu Reeves, barely even uses a gun in the first 30 minutes of the film. Chapter three incorporates some of the movie industry’s best fighting experts, and the number of choreographed scenes would make any martial arts fan proud — especially for the practical stunts.
For lovers of the camera, the “John Wick” franchise has fantastic cinematography, and this film is no exception. The camerawork is set up to capture the feel of a graphic novel, with all the grace of the timeless action classics from the 20th century by which it is inspired.
Additionally, unlike most other modern action films, this one is written very well. The character development of John Wick is well done and his relationship to most other characters, including ones that are trying to kill him, add depth to the story.
There is also a good amount of subtle humor, situational at best, but overall a good addition to make up for how much more gruesome this movie is compared to others. It was fun to see a few homages to ‘80s action movies where the characters make witty jokes after doing despicable things. When Keanu Reeves makes a direct reference to one of his most famous lines in “The Matrix,” I immediately started to dream up how the two franchises are connected.
One of the best parts of the film was the incorporation of Sophia, played by Halle Berry, as an equally awesome sidekick to John Wick. Her dynamic and character completely make up for the lack of vocal female characters in the first two chapters, and her parallel nature to John Wick will definitely call for more screen time in future sequels.
Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” did everything it should have and it deserves credit. This movie, much like the past two, stands apart from other action movies for its plausible realism, creativity and the fact that it’s directed very well. Hopefully, the “John Wick” franchise will continue to bring us everything viewers want — another digestible action film.
I give the film 4 out of 5 stars.