John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum - Review

There are a few movies each generation that reinvents the genre it is classified in. In 2014, John Wick did that for the action genre. While John Wick: Chapter 2 expanded the mythology of the universe, it was a bit uneven when it came to the balance of storytelling and action. Luckily, John Wick: Chapter 3 is perfectly balanced.

The film starts minutes after the second one ends. But it still gives you enough to enjoy the flick on its own if you have never seen the first two. The information needed comes in the form of exposition, and deep into the first act of the film, but the film is engaging enough that the information is not needed right away.

The fight scenes are expertly coordinated and exquisitely shot. Some of the most creative fights of the franchise are in Chapter 3. There is still world building, and an engaging story, but the action doesn't suffer from it. It is also works in reverse: the action doesn't take away from the story.

Keanu Reeves is at the top of his game. The lack of camera cuts show he did a lot of his own stunts. The expert way he handles firearms shows the preparation he took for the role. (Halle Berry had the same training). The supporting cast is the strongest of the franchise. The returning cast, like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and Lawrence Fishburne are better than ever. The new blood, like Angelica Huston and Halle Berry elevate the material above what it was on the page. Halle Berry's character has massive spinoff potential. Her fight scene in Act 2 is one of the strongest of the entire film. If in fact the world of John Wick does get an expansion, Berry would be a prime candidate for a new adventure.

The guttural sounds of the fight scenes make them more memorable than any of the other franchises fights. The sound mixing is one of the best ever done, and should get Academy Award attention. One of the first fight scenes in the film has no music behind it. All that is to be heard is the harsh fight sounds of knives, grunts, and everything else associated with carnage of that kind. It puts you into the fight more than anything else. The absence of music, and the emphasis of sound effects makes for a unique cinematic experience.

At first, it feels like John Wick: Chapter 3 is shying away from gun fights. There are nearly a dozen separate fights in the film, and only 2 of them are proper gun fights. But the deeper into the movie you get, the more you realize that the gun fights are better used sparingly. Because of that, you see some of the most creative fights you've ever seen in a movie. Weapons such as books, knives. dogs, swords, fists, horses, and anything else you can think of are used to entertaining ends.

It was nice to see Lance Reddick have a larger role than in the first two movies. His character always had a shroud of mystery surrounding him, and for him to show off on screen a bit was a treat. The character work in Chapter 3 was impeccable. It is such a rare treat to see a perfect balance of character, story, and action. The mythology feels rich. It doesn't feel forced for the sake of John's story. It definitely feels like the world actually exists, and we are just seeing a peek inside of it.

While the arc of John Wick's story feels complete (all 3 movies take place within about a 2 week span in 2014), Chapter 3 still sets the stage for the future. There could be a definite time jump now, if they wanted it that way. 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum does everything a sequel is supposed to. It gives fans more of what they loved in the first place. It expands and deepens the story. It sets up the future while paying off the past. The action sequences are superb. The action is the best the movies have to offer since Mission: Impossible - Fallout.  It does everything expertly. Chad Stahelski crafted a hell of an adventure. His action roots in the stunt industry came in handy.

John Wick is one of the best action franchises currently going, and Stahelski and Keanu Reeves ensured that it has a bright future.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is currently playing in theaters everywhere.


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