A beautifully stylized, hyper-violent and at times completely nuts cinematic joyride, the third installment in the believed John Wick franchise welcomes some of the most inventive and entertaining action seen on the big screen – John Wick or otherwise.
Much like its predecessors, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, takes action to a level unlike that which we usually see on the big screen. While we’re all used to blockbuster action stars jumping out of buildings and blowing up helicopters, Parabellum puts John Wick in his most vulnerable position yet – at the mercy of the entire assassin world (and even the mysterious High Table itself).
The first two John Wick films established a very unique style, in terms of their use of colour and coordination of action, and Parabellum is no exception to this. Those who remember John Wick: Chapter 2, from which Parabellum takes place only minutes after, will know that the titular John Wick (Keanu Reeves of The Matrix fame) was left without his usual resources: no longer having access to the various spoils (namely an insane amount of firepower and stylish black suits) that he had relied on in his last two outings.
However, this limitation made for some of the most insane and absurdly violent fight scenes the franchise has seen, with the film’s first 20 minutes establishing an appropriate level of armrest-gripping intensity that only becomes tenser as the plot develops. The terrifically choreographed fight scenes, while mirroring the borderline comedic insanity of films like Sin City and Crank, remained relatively grounded; with the stakes being raised more through the duration and coordination of fight scenes rather than the number of explosions.
Audience members are also given time to breathe between these exhilarating action sequences with the development of the already expansive world supporting the John Wick franchise. This included the return of Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Ant-Man and the Wasp) as the Bowery King, Ian McShane (American Gods, Deadwood) as Winston and Lance Reddick (White House Down, The Wire) as Charon, the concierge the Continental Hotel. The Continental Hotel itself plays a big role in Parabellum. It’s a location fans might remember from the previous two films. And, of course, we see the return of Wick’s new dog, who is safe again in the walls of the Continental.
As well as returning favourites, the film sees the likes of Halle Berry (X-Men, The Call), Jason Mantzoukas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The League) and Saïd Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman, La Haine) join the ever-growing world of John Wick, along with a couple of other familiar faces from various film and TV properties. There are even a few new dogs who join in on the action in Parabellum, and boy do they have their chance to shine. While many of these characters and their interactions serve as a break from the otherwise wall-to-wall action of the film, they still manage to fit into the stylistic, and at times even comedic, universe in which the films are set.
One of the main things that balance out the action in Parabellum is the film’s sense of humour. Despite its dark and gritty nature, when coupled with beautiful colour schemes and experimental lighting the film manages to not take itself too seriously. There are plenty of moments of levity that allow the audience to digest the otherwise insane nature of John Wick, creating an incredibly entertaining experience for those who can stomach the film’s more brutal scenes.
Director Chad Stahelski has once again proven himself to be an accomplished action director with Parabellum, which should come as no surprise with his experience as a Hollywood stunt man (even to Keanu Reeves himself). The balance of bloodthirsty action and comedy with the vibrant oranges and greens that compliment the more neon blue/purple colour schemes of previous John Wick films creates a ceaselessly cinematic experience worth watching on the big screen. With the sound of each hit (literally) packing a punch, you won’t regret going to the cinema to catch this one while it’s still showing.
Equal parts serene, chaotic and exciting, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is a film that should leave many audience members wanting more – and if the film’s final scene is to be believed, we haven’t seen the last of the Boogeyman just yet.
About the author
ABOUT THE WRITER: Harry Sabulis is a film, music, theatre and media crazed writer with a passion for all things artsy. A certified nerd and aspiring screenwriter, Harry loves storytelling in all of its forms. You can read some of his film reviews on his blog, Kill The Critic.