Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane
Theodore Logan is here to party. Hard.
Everyone knows the story. In 2014, John Wick was released to minimal fanfare and became one of the year’s most surprising, and best, movies for sheer entertainment and action. It took three years for a sequel but it was one that was worth the wait. Now, Keanu is back as John Wick once more in Chapter 3: Parabellum. The world’s most feared (ex) hitman is still on the run with a huge bounty on his head as the High Table close in and, well, that’s the plot really.
It’s par for the course now to expect some serious action from the John Wick franchise and guess what? Parabellum has action dripping from every scene. Literally. But that’s what you want from these movies. Sure, John Wick gets some more development and The Continental is explored slightly more (emphasis on slightly) but people haven’t come for character studies – just stone cold death-dealing. The fight choreography is superb and coupled with some inventive camerawork ensures the spectacle never lets up. Everything is even bigger than before and this time we get John Wick going mental on a horse (which will never not be awesome) and some inventive kills with objects you never knew could be deadly (hello books!) The problem is, not long into the movie, a serious sense of déjà vu takes over and the movie becomes a little less fun. Add in a weighty mid-section which drags longer than Wick’s desert exile and the limitations that Stahelski has shackled upon the franchise begin to come to the fore.
Whilst Keanu is kick ass once again and Halle Berry turns up for an entertaining large cameo, there’s that nagging sense of familiarity which removes some of the fun of watching John Wick batter anyone who stands in his way. Even the idea that Wick is seemingly indestructible begins to wear thin by the end – Wick may actually be the Baba Yaga. An actual demon. Unkillable. Cast out of heaven. Whatever the case, the already confirmed fourth movie needs to shake things up somehow. Familiarity isn’t always negative, mind. The overall visual still retains that gritty, noir aesthetic which absolutely works alongside the action and the soundtrack from Tyler Bates (including British rockers Bush) is another fine listen. Again, however, déjà vu. Whilst the writing isn’t bad, Stahelski and his raft of writers have turned a smaller, focused story into a seemingly worldwide affair – everyone is in on the act here! Wherever John goes in the world, literally everyone is out to get him and this widening of the lore isn’t beneficial – in a movie so OTT, it’s this aspect which is the weakest. Factor in that no one really seems intimidated by the Baba Yaga at this point and something seems awry.
Of course, though, in the grand scheme of things, Parabellum is still an enjoyable action-packed romp but that spark is lacking this time around. It does eschew the trend of the ‘third movie’ being the let down / mediocre. Soaked in blood and bullets, Parabellum manages to bring the goodies but just not as successfully as the previous John Wick offerings.
Still, John Wick on a horse? Yes. All the yes.
May 26th 2019