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John Wick and his loyal canine companion

At a glance, 2014’s John Wick could have easily been mistaken for a standard revenge flick that, other than its likable star, would be completely unremarkable. Yet, in one of the most pleasant surprises of recent years, John Wick turned out to be a stylish and original movie with riveting action that took full advantage of the talents of Keanu Reeves. Then in 2017, John Wick: Chapter 2 avoided a sophomore slump and proved this property has franchise potential.

Now John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum arrives to make it a trilogy. The first two films were critical successes and the reviews for the third just dropped. So did director Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves make it 3 for 3? CinemaBlend’s own Mike Reyes certainly thinks so, he gave Parabellum 4 stars out of 5 in his review, praising how the film delivers what we want and expect, while expanding the lore. Mike said:

Combining slick, brutal action, a devilish sense of humor, and an intriguing world that becomes more familiar (yet more mysterious each time), John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum delivers the goods yet again.

Mike Reyes appreciated the world-building the third film in this action franchise performed, expanding the lore and adding intrigue beyond the bullets. He wasn’t alone either, as IGN’s Jim Vejvoda also enjoyed the fleshing out of John Wick’s backstory and of course the gleefully violent action. Jim gave the film 8.5 and said:

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum brings the title character back to his roots while also offering new twists to where things could go from here, all with the over-the-top, brutally executed action set-pieces fans have come to expect from the franchise. They will not leave disappointed.

The John Wick franchise made its name on its incredible action and thus fans have come to expect that the ante will be upped each time out. On that account, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum looks like it delivers. In his 9 out of 10 review, Slashfilm’s Chris Evangelista went so far as to call it an “action masterpiece”:

John Wick 3 is a bone-cracking, horse-kicking, dog-biting, book-smashing, ax-throwing action masterpiece.

The word ‘epic’ gets thrown around a lot, but ‘masterpiece’ still carries an air of exclusivity and import. But having great action isn’t enough for everyone, it actually might be too much. In one of the few less enthusiastic reviews thus far, Variety’s Andrew Barker lamented that the action is action for its own sake and not in service to any deeper purpose. He said:

But as masterfully executed as the action is, watching two-plus hours of mayhem without any palpable dramatic stakes, or nuance, or any emotion at all save bloodlust offers undeniably diminishing returns. There are only so many times you can see a bullet pass through a skull before it gets deadening, and then almost dull.

For some, there is a desensitization to John Wick’s kills in the film and a lack of investment in the action because of a lack of stakes and emotion. There is something to be said for a franchise knowing what it is, what its goals are and delivering on them though and that’s what The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore highlights in his review:

An epic of choreographed mayhem that expands the Wickiverse in mostly pleasing ways, it is destined to satisfy fans of this surprise-hit franchise: If its ludicrous aspects bug you, what the hell are you doing here?

This was a common theme in the reviews. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum isn’t reinventing the wheel. It is expanding the mythology of the previous films and delivering the beautifully brutal action fans of the franchise want and expect. That beautifully choreographed and shot action is what makes the film work, as Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson said in her 3.5 out of 5 review:

Whatever it lacks in narrative intelligence it makes up abundantly in visual moxie, and in a medium that is first and foremost visual, that’s what makes something great

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty echoed this sentiment and summed up what John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parbellum is and what it isn’t in his “A-“ review, saying:

I don’t mean to give the impression that John Wick 3 is anything grander than a gorgeously choreographed, gratuitously violent action movie. But as gorgeously choreographed, gratuitously violent action movies go, it’s high art.

All in all, the reviews for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum give the impression that if you enjoyed the previous two films and like exploring this world and seeing Keanu Reeves’ character kill lots of people in cool and brutal ways, you’ll have a blast with this movie.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum opens in theaters on May 17. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all of the big movies arriving this summer.

John Wick Kill Counter | Chapter 1 & Chapter 2

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