John Wick 3 review Keanu Reeves Anjelica Huston

Year: 2019
Director(s): Chad Stahelski
Writer(s): Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 130 mins

Synopsis: With a $14 million price tag on his head, our mans JW is the world’s most wanted man. (Source)

The original John Wick was a shock to the system. It proved that star Keanu Reeves was as lethal as ever, and that hard, unflinching action still mattered amidst bright superhero epics. Its sequel took things even further. Director Chad Stahelski rendered a deep, global network of assassins and the ancient rules that kept them in check. Now, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum continues to up the ante. Keanu is at his fiercest, Stahelski’s eye for brutal set pieces and stunts are second to none, and the franchise shows no signs of stopping. While the story seems to slow down a bit (an obvious attempt to prolong Wick’s bloody saga), Chapter 3 easily solidifies Wick as one of cinema’s action greats. 

Picking up from a truly genius cliffhanger, the story races off as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has just one hour to escape NYC. Cut off from the assassination network that he’d been forced to re-enter, Wick is literally the world’s most hunted man. As he claims favors from old friends, his globe-trotting journey for atonement sends fractures across a secret society of spies, killers and immutable codes. 

John Wick 3 Keanu Reeves

The beauty of this film, and the franchise, remains its simplicity. From start to finish, everything is still built on cascading consequence. The spiraling events that set off Wick’s journey are undeniably urgent. Again, Stahelski proves himself a master at balancing story and action, with both dependent on each other every step of the way. It’s because of this that the secret societies that call Wick the boogeyman are lived-in and rich. As the film delves into their ancient traditions and deathly serious moral codes, Wick’s journey to break an unbreakable cycle of violence remains infectious. Above all, this is one man’s exhilarating attempt to reclaim his soul in a soulless world. Beyond the blood-shed, the knife fights and the echoes of war, is a calculated character study that plays out with giddy, unabashed aplomb.

Of course, you can’t talk about one of these films without highlighting the insanity that floats them. Besides Keanu, the real star here, are Stahelski’s penchant for calculated mayhem. With every film, the set pieces have grown, and here, they’re really on a level of their own. There’s an opening sequence that gets creative with a library book. A Moroccan showdown features two savage, well trained dogs. A duo of chase sequences electrify NYC by way of horses and motorcycles. And the climactic battle is an all-out siege set amidst neon lighting, glass and mirrors. At this point, Reeves and all the stuntmen involved are worth the price of admission alone. And while the last act does feel a tad protracted, it’s a stunning marvel of breathtaking choreography, brute force and do-or-die desperation. 

John Wick 3 review Halle Berry

Technical direction and story aside, the film’s other easy selling point is a growing, diverse cast. At the top, Keanu needs no introduction. This is the character he was born for, delivering daring physicality and fragile, understated emotion with every punch, kick and stab. Keanu can literally do anything at this point, and we’ll all still line up to watch him. Franchise stalwarts Ian McShane and Lance Reddick get a little more to do this time around, and it’s fun to see their characters being pushed. Laurence Fishburne gets a setup that’s also bound to break the mold in future installments. Asia Kate Dillon and Anjelica Huston render bold consequences for Wick’s rampage, while Said Taghmaoui is a truly delicious villain. He’s snappy and energetic. As far as Halle Berry, her character, Sofia is fascinating, and I hope there’s more in store for her!

If there’s anything that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum proves, it’s that this is Wick’s world and we just live in it. In a fitting move, this latest chapter has managed to improve and continue to drive home that there is nothing like these films out there. Wick is on a level of his own, and I can’t wait to see where this all goes next.

SG