DIRECTED BY: CHAD STAHELSKI/2019
Don’t close the book on this action-packed franchise or John Wick might just beat you to death with it! Despite being the third chapter of what is now a trilogy of films, the world of John Wick is only growing larger, as it has already been announced that a Starz television show is being filmed later this year that centers around, and is named for, the notorious hotel for assassins, The Continental.
If you need catching up, in Chapter 1 John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was a retired assassin who had found his way out of that life to marry a girl and enjoy life with her deep into old age. When she got sick and succumbed to her illness, a last present showed up from her in the form of a puppy. When elements of his past show up and kill his dog, John Wick announces with fervor that he is back.
The second chapter sees John hunting down his stolen car, and having to honor a marker, an agreement he made with one in his order to kill that person’s sister who sits on the “high table”, a ruling council of assassins. When she does the deed herself, with John providing the mercy shot, her brother, who contracted John takes her seat at the high table but tells the false story that John killed her in cold blood, putting a $7 million dollar bounty on Wick, while taking the seat of power anyway.
This injustice angers John so much that he commits one of the 2 unforgivable sins of his trade when he murders this man on the grounds of The Continental hotel, a sort of consecrated holy ground where no “business” can be conducted. As Chapter 2 draws to a close, the hotel’s manager, Winston (Ian McShane) gives John the courtesy of a 1 hour head start before he is declared “excommunicado” and a $14 million dollar bounty is placed upon him by the high table. As that film ended, phones start lighting up, showing that there are many assassins in the New York area where John is now on the run.
Chapter 3-Parabellum begins at exactly the moment John Wick started running as Chapter 2 draws to a close, and 1 hour before the contract on his life goes live to all the assassins who might want to collect the bounty. If you had no knowledge of this franchise and went in cold to Chapter 3, you might get the basic idea that you missed a lot, but the one thing you would get is that everyone….and I mean everyone, is after John Wick. In some marketing and media coverage of the film, this chapter has been dubbed “John Wick vs. The World”, and that is not far from the truth.
While John is on the run he will seek to call in every favor, marker, and tool he has at his disposal which widens the John Wick universe and introduces us to another member of the high table named “The Director”, played by Anjelica Huston. Wick will also cross paths with Sofia (Halle Berry), a person he once helped and who, tongue-in-cheek, asks John if he’s a “dog person”. Once you see her dogs in action, you will be a dog person for sure. Also returning from Chapter 2 is Reeve’s Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne, as the Bowery King.
As John participates in this non-stop blood bath trying to stay alive, The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) shows up and begins to clean up the mess of what John did at The Continental that will challenge the very power structure of the entire assassin’s order itself, utilizing the force of Zero (Mark Dacascos) and his “students” to make her point. Zero is an assassin who is eager to knock Wick off the top of the assassin’s rankings and assume the top spot himself (Spoiler: He is a cat person!!!)
If you don’t know, director Chad Stahelski is a stunt performer and director, having even worked on the Matrix films with Reeves and Fishburn. As we’ve said in the reviews for the first 2 installments, his expertise in this area is clearly seen in each and every frame. Having such a director, who knows the best camera angles and reference points for these things, allows the audience to be positioned to see the full effect of each kick, punch, shot, stab, slam, jab, bite, slash, strike, whip, and fall.
What was very entertaining to me, watching this film is how they were able to turn Anjelica Huston into a downright scary woman primarily through her menacing gaze. Each of the supporting characters that John Wick encounters provide enough tease of a backstory that is could be its own future film.
The other thing that struck me was how this film finally gives Halle Berry a role where she can demonstrate her action chops after being pretty regulated in her X-Men role. Maybe Die Another Day was the last time she really had a shot. With this film, no one will ever question her action bonafides again. Holy cow…I can’t wait for people to discuss Berry and her dogs. When she says “sit”, the whole audience will sit!
I will say that John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum is on par with the previous films of this action franchise. It is not my favorite, which is still the first installment, but it is hands down the most action packed, and adrenaline-fueled films of the trilogy. This is and will be the biggest non-stop action film of the year. So, if you thought John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 were pedal-to-the-floor action films, just wait….Chad Stahelski has upped the ante and provides some stunts that you’ve never seen before. So for another doggone good time, buckle up. John Wick is back…at least one more time!