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

by Daniel O'Connell 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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