John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Review: A true triumph for the action genre and for the John Wick series
When the question comes up about what the top names in action are, who’s generally the first name to pop into your head. Jason Statham? The Rock? Stallone? Schwarzenegger? Tom Cruise, Maybe? If you’re an old-school film fan, maybe you’ll even say Charles Bronson? Maybe, you’d even say Michelle Rodriguez? However, there’s one person that’s come time and time again to show that he’s not only a talented actor, but can bring pulse-pounding, adrenaline rushing action sequences unlike anyone else: Keanu Reeves. Outside of films like The Matrix and Point Break, Reeves has been a dominant force recently with the John Wick series and has captured the attention of both critics and fans alike. With a performance as the titular assassin that’s both complex and endearing and some of the most excellently choreographed action series ever, the John Wick series is a consistently a new achievement for the action genre, and it’s only elevated more with its third chapter.
Once the credits started to roll, I was honestly just left in shock with how amazing this film is. I’ve always appreciated the series for how simple the story, lore, and characters are, and it always picks itself up right where it left off. In Chapter 3, we pick up with Wick (Reeves) attempting to gather as many resources as he can before he is excommunicated from the world of assassins from the events of John Wick 2. The High Table puts an expensive bounty on his head that makes him a prime target for any assassin to kill. What’s worse is that John’s actions cause consequences for those around him and it leads to him not only having to kill anyone stands before him, but also pay for his actions.
Truthfully, the film’s focus on actions causing consequences is just one half of what makes this third entry so great. Every action that John has not only leads to consequences that make him have to do everything he can to survive, but also for every character, both old and new, he meets. Whether it’s Winston (Ian McShane), The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), or The Director (Anjelica Huston), John’s actions lead to them having consequences for even being involved with him. It builds a great character arc for him as someone who dolled out the consequences for action in the previous film to now being the one who suffers from his own actions. It’s adds more complexity to his character that’s also brought out from Reeves’ stellar performance. It’s also worth mentioning that Halle Berry also boasts a solid performance as Sofia, and she brings some great lines and fun action that I wouldn’t seeing return in future films.
I also loved how the world of the John Wick series continues to develop and the film does an incredible job emphasizing the secrecy of their world. From assassins appearing and disappearing as common people pass to them appearing in the shadows, there’s an incredible amount of practical imagination that comes from writer Derek Kolstad and comes to life through Chad Stahelski’s direction. These two have been with the series since the start and their passion to create a unique world of assassins and a story full of redemption and lead character that’s incredibly fun to watch. Not only does Chapter 3 bring more to what we know about John as both an assassin and a person, but it also showcases how important he is to the world and how far his name stretches across the world.
The other half of the formula that makes Chapter 3 such an amazing achievement for the genre is the incredibly choreographed action sequences and gorgeous set designs. One thing that always comes up with action sequels is how they can “up the ante” and outdo the previous films, and that is one thing that Chapter 3 delivers on excellently. Stahelski uses every inch of the frame to create unique moments and really show why Wick is truly the best of the rest. From using an array of knives to arsenal of guns to even a horse, seriously he uses a horse to kill two people, Wick is an unstoppable force that’s a treat to see on-screen.
Chapter 3 also has a lot of fun with its concept and has so many moments that will have audiences captivated. As said before, the film’s choreography and stunts are amazing and are what make this entry a true action triumph. In my viewing, neither myself nor my audience could resist cheering, clapping, and gasping in shock at how amazing these sequences are and how the film takes some moments to have fun. There’s even a fun moment where Wick and two other gunmen are out of ammo and they have a reload battle that I had me cackling with joy. Not to mention, the film’s use of its subtitle, Parabellum, gives it a strong meaning to the film’s finale and also made me crack a smile because of how its subtly delivered.
Now, I do have to say that the ending left me a little mixed as its kind of has a last-minute turn that doesn’t come off as believable or is just a step too far. While I actually appreciate the film’s conclusion because it works well with the film’s themes about consequences and it offers the series to continue in great direction, there’s just something off about it. Without saying what it is, something just happens where Wick’s “super-human” ability goes a little too far, for me, and I couldn’t help but feel like the practicality the series is known for was a little stripped away.
Honestly, Chapter 3 is exactly what fans will want to see and more, and further proves that Reeves is the new dominant force in action. There’s a true sense of passion that comes from everyone involved with the John Wick series and there’s so many incredible achievements made for the action genre that makes this film an absolute must-see. Frankly, Chapter 3 is not only the strongest outing for John Wick thus far, but one of the best and enjoyable films to grace the screen in 2019.