Prepare for war, as “John Wick, Chapter 3: Parabellum” has come our way. Picking up only minutes after the events of “John Wick, Chapter 2,” the title character (again Keanu Reeves) and his dog are seen running through the streets of New York as the minutes count down to him becoming “ex communicado,” and a fourteen million dollar bounty is put on his head. As Wick calls in the last favors he has left and piles up the bodies around him in his quest to make amends with “The High Table,” he travels the world for those who would help him get his new normal back.
Director of all three films in Chad Stahelski continues to show why he may be the best action filmmaker currently in the game as “Parabellum” continues to push the pedal further and further into the legend of this series. From stunt coordination to execution (yes, that means two things) to the showcasing of both practical and CGI effects, this just gets more and more impressive by each film. I actually made the observation (tongue firmly in cheek) when leaving the theater that the script may only have been three to four paragraphs long, it is still non-stop action for two hours and ten minutes, and that may not really be that far off.
There is also a very interesting subplot involving “The High Table” and their agents’ involvement across the world, with the incomparable Ian McShane (American Gods) returning as Winston in the way that only he can, providing some of the best laughs and lines in the film. Lance Reddick (The Wire) also returns as Charon, the concierge, showing some real character evolution during some of the more awesome fight sequences, and Mark Dascasos (Brotherhood of the Wolf) is cast as Zero, the foil for Wick whose fight sequence at the climax of the film felt like an homage to “Enter the Dragon” in the best possible way. Halle Berry (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) joins the fray, being featured heavily in the marketing for “John Wick, Chapter 3: Parabellum,” but actually being used minimally in the film itself. One of my colleagues noted that here character was “completely unnecessary to the story,” and while I agree with it, I still enjoyed her scenes as they played out, making her an ace in the hole for any further tellings of this story down the line.
I would be remiss if I did not give credit to the stunning cinematography work by Dan Lausten, who is known recently for “The Shape of Water”. As much fun as it is to see Keanu Reeves kill his way through what seems like a million people, the work done by those who filmed it are able to match feel and elevate this from action film to brutal artwork, making it a fun ride with fun, comic book-style violence. Although one particular kill made me squirm in my seat, I cannot wait to see this film again and again.