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‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ raises the bar beyond expectations

Image from IMDb
Image from IMDb

Back in 2014, veteran stuntmen David Leitch and Chad Stahelski collaborated together and directed John Wick.  It starred Keanu Reeves as a deadly and highly skilled assassin who  comes out of retirement to get revenge on the men who killed his dog.  The film was both a financial and critical success and went on to become  a sleeper hit. It revived Reeves’ career, as well as being the shot in  the arm that the action genre needed. The film got a sequel in 2017,  which was just as successful as its predecessor. Now, Reeves and  Stahelski team up once again to bring the third movie in the John Wick  series, to bring more adrenaline pumping, pulse-pounding action.

Simple story with great characters and worldbuilding

Taking place immediately after the second film, it follows the  titular assassin as a wanted man. He has been excommunicated from the  Continental, a safe haven for assassins, for an unsanctioned killing  there. With a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick’s main goal is to now  stay alive and defeat any assassin coming after him, as he tries to  find a way to fix his world.

Image from IMDb

The story for the film is very simple in premise. However, it  definitely makes up for this with its interesting and unique characters.  Returning characters not only include Wick, but Winston (Ian McShane),  the manager of the New York Continental, and the Bowery King (Laurence  Fishburne), a crime lord who employs homeless men as assassins. These  characters are great, with their actors giving good performances.  Special mention goes to Fishburne as the Bowery King, whose hammy  performance and larger than life presence makes him entertaining.

However, there are also new characters introduced to the film who are  just as interesting. A person who John seeks out for help is Sofia  (Halle Berry), the manager of the Casablanca Continental who has a past  with John. Berry gives a good and passionate performance as Sofia,  giving her a lot of personality and character despite her limited screen  time. The main antagonists, the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillion) and  Zero (Mark Dacascos), are great characters in their own right. The  Adjudicator acts as an agent of the High Table, dealing with the fallout  of John’s killing in the Continental with a blunt and authoritative  presence. Zero, on the other hand, is an assassin employed by the  Adjudicator and serves as one of the highlights of the film. He is more  or less a ninja, taking out people with deadly efficiently along with  his two shinobi students. He is also a big fan of Wick, evident in a  scene where he tells him that he loves his work. The contrast between  his gleeful fanboy-ism and lethal skills provides a great amount of  humor.

Another strength of the film, as with its predecessors, is its world  building. The film does not bog down the viewer with exposition dumps  but provides it in a more organic manner. It gives the audience bits and  pieces of information, as well as showing them things in action, such  as how the gold coins used by assassins are made. It builds upon the  worldbuilding introduced in the previous films, including the very  strong implication that the assassin network shown in the movies is the  modern incarnation of the ancient Hashashin order, a group who were  among the very first assassins in history.

Brilliant, well-choreographed action

Image from IMDb

The biggest strength of the film and the series as a whole are the  action scenes. They are brilliant and are fun to watch, with each scene  of the movie providing different action set pieces. It also provides  John opportunities for very creative kills, including using a horse to  kill assassins it kicks, to one-upping his pencil kill in the previous  film by killing a man with a book. The best fights in the film include a  fight in a weapon warehouse with Yakuza hitman, where both sides take  advantage of the weapons stored there. This includes killing one with an  Old West revolver and riddling another’s body with throwing knives.  Another standout scene is where John teams up with Sofia in Casablanca,  who fights utilizing attack dogs alongside her gun skills.

While all of these scenes had me excited, the real standout would be  any fight featuring Zero and his two shinobi students (played by Yayan  Rufian and Cecep Arif Rahman, both known for their work on The Raid movies).  It’s fun to watch them tear through enemy forces with their skills,  often blending into the background and beating down people with their  martial arts skills. They provide some of best action scenes in the  movies, including a motorcycle chase and a final showdown with John.  Among a series of great action scenes, these stand out as the best.

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: IMDb

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