Some people want enormous showdowns featuring their favorite Marvel characters, I on the other hand wait with anticipation to see someone give John Wick a gun. And boy does he get a gun or two in the runtime of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
The story takes off like a bullet from where John Wick 2 left off. Wick is running through the streets of NY making strategic moves to assist in his upcoming excommunicado sentence, during which he will receive no assistance from anyone under The High Table. As Wick fans recall, Wick broke some very important rules on Continental grounds that lead to an impending contract on his life.
The film takes no time getting into the nitty-gritty world of headshots and and constantly cool choreographed violence. This time however, Wick is up against the clock and in constant survival mode as opposed to his usual just and vengeful self. The Baba Yaga’s biggest enemy this time around is time itself.
Director, Chad Stahelski brings that trademark flare back to the Wick series once again. Combining the genius and timing of Buster Keaton with masterful martial arts and gun-fu of East meets West. This time around, Stahelski steers heavily into inspiration from High Noon, complete with homages to clocks ticking down to inevitable final moments and subsequent consequential action. Stahelski elevates his already deep understanding of the language of cinema and generously gives us the action we have come to expect from the series and then raises the bar he set.
Wick’s nemesis this time around lies in the deadly hands of Mark Dacascos, who brings a very interesting take on his approach to lethal assassin, Zero. Dacascos is the real deal in the world of martial arts and that lends to his character here with his precise approach to action. The interesting thing that Dacascos does here is to turn his character into a genuine John Wick fanboy. Sure, he needs to kill Wick, but that doesn’t stop his childlike wonder while attempting it. The third act moments between Zero and Wick are well-done outright hilarious.
Through a series of events, I will avoid spoiling, Wick ends up partnered with Sofia (Halle Berry) in a some sequences that viciously doubles the action of what we have seen in previous John Wick films. What you have to remember, especially during these scenes, is that they are doing all this shit for real. Reeves and Berry unleash a slew of bullets paired with an intense duo of dogs who in turn unleash their own hell onto the baddies. The result is bloody and magical. The stunt work that went into this stuff is fuckin’ legendary and I’m still in complete awe.
Reeves is Wick. Wick is Reeves. The dude pours himself into the role once again and has a profound understanding of exactly what to bring to Stahelski’s table of action. Well-versed in gun fu and kung fu and everything in between, Reeves is a craftsman whose blood, sweat and tears lies in each frame of the film to mesmerizing results.
One of the best things about this series outside of the outstanding action has always been the world that John Wick created from the get go. Secret code, double speak, gold coins, keys and an underground that we hadn’t seen previous to these films is absolutely rich. Chapter 3 takes us further down that alluring rabbit hole. New locations, characters and big and game changing reveals are made throughout, never taking away from action set pieces.
While a lot of action films are just that. The rich world of John Wick is busting at the seams with symbolism. The historical, philosophical and even religious undertones are everywhere and throughout. This time around that substance is capitalized on with bits of those symbols bleeding into the narrative to satisfying and well earned results.
For me it is hard to rate any of the Wick films. They are all equally fantastic and I’ve loved every single badass second with them. From start to finish this series has been a masterpiece and we are lucky enough to have witnessed it. Wick maintains the lightning in the bottle sensation that It has always been and still promises more of this vicious ballet, and I for one am entirely here for that.