Following the release of the first film in this series in 2014, the John Wick franchise has succeeded in delivering captivating action and breathtaking choreography. Keanu Reeves’s titular assassin masterfully dispatches waves of killers and mercenaries. We follow Wick as he shoots, punches and stabs his way through scores of enemies in a wider world of organized crime constructed around him. Though the series featured an interesting take on a revenge story, the main draw of the first two films were the expertly choreographed action sequences that elevated the franchises narrative.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” picks up immediately after the events of the second film. Wick hides in the safe haven Continental Hotel following his killing of a member of the High Table, the governing body of the criminal underworld, and earning him a $14 million bounty on his head. What follows is an action packed adventure from beginning to end, as Wick attempts to escape the reach of the High Table and survive. His journey is coupled with the introduction of a High Table adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) who is tasked with punishing those guilty of assisting Wick in previous films, such as the manager of the New York Continental Hotel (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne).
The plot of this third installment is nothing to be impressed by. More often than not, it is simply used to justify and connect each subsequent action set piece and further build the criminal world of Wick. Plot points from previous films are successfully brought in through the adjudicator’s investigation of Wick’s associates in New York. This rewards those who have seen the previous films by integrating past characters into the new story. Though entertaining due to its action, the plot eventually fades into the background and becomes forgettable. For instance, a brief overseas detour removes Wick from New York only to have him return shortly with a new objective. Though this international detour was coupled with entertaining action, the purpose for his visit became irrelevant in the final act of the film. More than anything, it felt like a justification for a change of scenery for the action. With that being said, however, the true selling point of these films is the fight scenes, which the third installment expertly delivers on.
“John Wick: Chapter 3” is held together by an action packed narrative involving every assassin in the world going after Wick, often resulting in one fight picking up immediately after one had already finished. This could easily become exhausting if the fight choreography wasn’t up to the challenge but luckily this film does not disappoint. The film delivers on some of the best action sequences in the franchise including one of the most entertaining knife fights in film. Each action scene is unique and different from the previous one, as Wick seamlessly utilizes the environment around him to creatively eliminate his opponents. Accompanying the beautifully choreographed combat is expert cinematography as the camera tracks each punch, gunshot and kick. The months of training Keanu Reeves and his fellow actors went through to perform these fights pay off as each fight will entertain and captivate fans.
Additionally, the third installment in the series also manages to bring back several returning characters as well as a few new faces. Keanu Reeves continues to entertain as the titular assassin and his combat skills are again spectacular. As mentioned previously, Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane return to their roles from the first two films and deliver performances consistent with their previous appearances. Some of the new faces to the series include the aforementioned adjudicator, the High Table’s top assassin Zero (Mark Dacascos), The Director (Anjelica Huston) and the dog-loving assassin Sofia (Halle Berry). Though each character has their moment to shine, such as several great fight scenes with Zero, Berry’s Sofia stands out the most. Her introduction is accompanied with a bit of dialogue that teases a long and fascinating history she has with Wick (sadly never elaborated upon) and an amazing gunfight that pits her and her dogs against several opponents. Though each addition to the cast stands out in their given scenes, many aren’t given enough screen time; once they serve their purpose to propel the plot they are almost forgotten.
Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 3” delivers on the action that the series is known for. Expert fight choreography is present throughout as each fight is new and unique, keeping the audience’s interest fixed. Sadly, the story doesn’t surpass the original, though it serves its purpose of justifying the action and providing a consistent plotline throughout.
Verdict: The third installment in the John Wick franchise does not disappoint, providing some of the best fight scenes in the series. Though the story isn’t as interesting as that of its predecessors, it manages to capture the audience’s attention and connect each exciting action sequence to the next.