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In any other era, in any other form, John Wick would have been a one-off action film that came and went. However, when Keanu Reeves and stuntmen-turned-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski teamed up to tell the story of one man’s quest for vengeance, all the right ingredients came together and the right time to make a movie that would turn into a franchise.
Now, here we are, being given the third big screen film in the saga, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, a film that could only exist now and for good reason. With the franchise machine warmed up, Keanu Reeves settled in beautifully to play the already-iconic character, and Chad Stahelski directing his third outing in the series he helped create, all's right with the world. And trust me, the world is what this film is all about.
After the events of John Wick: Chapter 2 have left our titular assassin (Keanu Reeves) excommunicado, some clean-up is needed in the world of The Continental. Enter The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), one of the infamous High Table members that have ruled the world of John Wick with an iron fist. With John still on the run, and Winston (Ian McShane) on the hook for the hour head start he gave his dear friend, it looks like a greater game is about to begin. One that could possibly bring the entire world of assassins bound by their own unique brand of law to its very knees.
Normally, the rule of watching a movie like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is that you have to turn your brain off to truly enjoy the film. With as much action and excitement as the film is packed with, you may be thinking this time-tested requirement would be in play. You wouldn’t be more wrong about that with this third movie in the series, however.
While there’s still a lot of slick, bone-crunching stunt work that sparkles throughout the film, John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum also deepens the lore of the series, particularly through the institutions of The Continental and the High Table. We not only get to see another branch of the secret network of assassin-friendly hotels, courtesy of Halle Berry’s Sofia, but we also get more of a handle on the rules of that world, through the housekeeping the film’s two main antagonists are engaging in.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’s villains are pretty much headed up by both Mark Dacascos’s Zero and Asia Kate Dillon’s Adjudicator. Both are dead set on making sure the deeds John, and to a certain extent Winston, carried out at the end of the last film are paid in full, and they have different ways of fighting that battle.
With Mark Dacascos’ action prowess, and Asia Kate Dillon’s firm air of unwavering authority, the pair make for quite the thorn in the side of our hero. Their performances, much like those of everyone else in the John Wick universe, give Parabellum the same air of believability the two previous films embodied.
We’re treated to a neo-noir world of action and betrayal that operates just below the surface of normal society, and the conviction in the cast’s handling of their roles makes us believe it could be real. Also, the widening scope of the High Table’s grasp doesn’t feel like something tacked onto John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; rather, it’s a natural extension of this world we’ve already been party to.
The audience has always known there was a code of rules binding the world of assassins in the John Wick universe, and slowly but surely the sequels have given the characters more of a reason to explore them. It’s a very organic process that only helps set this series up for further installments, should that option be exercised.
It should also be noted that not only is it an absolute treat to see Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves wreck shop together, but Berry’s Sofia is totally worthy of a spin-off/sequel return of her own, in my opinion. She’s trained harder than ever for this film, and the results show; plus, the added bonus of Sofia’s pair of Malinois attack dogs ups the ante in terms of animal combat in this series.
Much like Ian McShane’s Winston and Lance Reddick’s Charon, moviegoers watching John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum are going to have a damned good time. Director Chad Stahelski proves that this series is far from dead, and is in fact distanced from any sort of finale. The story could go on for quite some time. So long as Keanu wants to kick ass and the flicks continue making money, there should be more to come.
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. The series continues to conduct its trademark symphony of blockbuster excitement, and intriguing plottery, to a tune that everyone can hum along to with a smile. Welcome back, Mr. Wick. Don’t be a stranger for too long.