The first John Wick was one of those films that comes out of nowhere and takes you by surprise, however, I felt the second one was a little lack lustre and, dare I say it, boring. That being said, the third installment in the John Wick franchise was one of Mark’s most highly anticipated films of the year and even I couldn’t help but get a little excited to see what happens next.
Whilst I was originally a little sceptical of the title, and too lazy to look up its meaning, it fits perfectly with the story of the film. I’m not going to ruin it for you though because the ‘title-drop’ in the film was such a great moment and I want you to enjoy it. Anywho, I am happy to announce that, not only did this film deliver but it also, quite rightly in my opinion, knocked Avengers Endgame off of the number one spot at the box office.
If you haven’t seen the first two films, don’t panic. This instalment is still thoroughly enjoyable on it’s own, you might just miss the odd meaning behind some of the dialogue. But if you are not familiar with the first two chapters, here’s a very basic overview.
John Wick is a retired assassin who, following some unfortunate events involving his dog and his car, is dragged back into the life he escaped five years earlier. His actions within the first two films lead to him being banished (‘Ex-communicado’) from the assassin world, barred from using any of it’s services and a $14 million bounty on his head; and Parabellum picks up almost immediately from where Chapter 2 left off.
The story as a whole is not amazing but to be completely honest, it really doesn’t need to be. We already know who John Wick is and why he is in the situation he’s in, what the audience want to see is action, and they get whole load of it with Parabellum.
If you are not completely hooked within the first 15 minutes, I’ll eat my hat, because they are the best 15 minutes in the entire franchise, provoking audible reactions from everyone in our screening, including Mark and myself. I do believe there were a few ‘Oh my Gods’ and ‘f**king hells’ thrown in for good measure. The things this man can do with a humble library book puts the likes of Jason Bourne to shame, and provides a thoroughly entertaining viewing experience. What makes it that much more impressive, is that Keanu Reeves performs about 98% of his own stunts. That guy is a bonefide legend.
This franchise is particularly good at showcasing kick-ass women and Parabellum is no exception; as we see assassin-turned-Continental-manager Sofia (Halle Berry) and her two awesome dogs fighting alongside John. I’ll admit, I’m not really Halle Berry’s biggest fan but she did portray her character well, and this will probably go down as my favourite performance of hers. Plus, I really liked the similarities between her and John. It was a nice way to come full circle and, rather surprisingly, offered some humour as well.
Ian McShane (Winston) and Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King) were their usual brilliant selves, commanding your attention whenever they were on screen. Lance Reddick returns as the oh-so-charming and efficient concierge, Charon, but this time he gets his hands a little dirty and I’ll tell you what, it was so satisfying to see. I hope they will expand on that a little more in the next film. Yes, they’ve already announced the next instalment and it’s going to be awesome!!
It would be incredibly easy for these films to quickly become stale but the world-building within the whole franchise gets stronger and stronger each time. In Parabellum we learn more about John’s background from the matriarchal figure known simply as The Director (Anjelica Huston), and the workings of the High Table thanks to the introduction of The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and The Elder (Said Taghmaoui).
The previously touched upon theme of ‘Rules and Consequences’ is given more meaning and life in this film, as well as providing a solid basis for the sequel, although I don’t want to give too much of that away.
The world of the assassins, that hides in plain sight, is steeped in history and decadence and that is translated brilliantly in both the set design and the cinematography. As with the other two films, Parabellum plays with light and music to bring some truly memorable fight sequences to the screen. And, despite the absurdity of what we are watching, the intricate tapestry that director Chad Stahelski has woven for us, makes it just believable enough and consequentially, thoroughly enjoyable.
Overall, Chapter 3 is a thrilling, surprisingly funny and action-packed two hours of fun that I would absolutely 100% recommend. As I’ve already said, you don’t need to have seen the first two but they will add to your enjoyment of the film, so give all three films a watch and let me know what you think. You will not be disappointed.