- Directed by Chad Stahelski
- May 9, 2019 (NYC) / May 17, 2019 (US)
John Wick goes on the run after a bounty is placed on him for events in the New York Continental.
The John Wick films are a series that loves the action genre. It goes all in focusing on the excitement without trying to excessively humanize the hero. They keep him as much of a force to be reckoned with as they can but as is a necessity once you go onto second and third films you have to add elements. But it is never excessive. There is only ever just enough.
This goes deeper into the world of John Wick and adds more layers and more complexity to the reality in which you must function. We got a little bit more in his background, and I do believe this is in the first time we learn the name of his wife. It’s Helen. But back to more complexity. I really hope the next film streamline things a bit. There’s only so complex that this world can be made before it becomes convoluted and it’s beginning to push that in this film.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds himself deeper in the mess that he started in the first film. With every action he takes one step forward, and two steps back. This is not a consequence free reality but whose rules fuel the story we get.
I feel there’s a little less action in Parabellum. Not by much but John seems to talk more as he negotiates this dangerous reality. We do get an expansion of the relationship between John and Winston (Ian McShane). They are not best buds but there is a relationship there beyond that of just hotel manager and frequent guest. But it is also of two people that know they have no other options left.
By need only new characters are introduced. Halle Berry joins as Sofia Al-Azwar who is an ex-assassin and the current manager of the Continental Hotel in Casablanca, Mark Dacascos as sushi making assassin Zero (which is perhaps a nod to his time on Iron Chef), Asia Kate Dillon as High Table operative The Adjudicator, Anjelica Huston as the Ruska Roma head known only as The Director, and Saïd Taghmaoui as High Table head The Elder. Few get a real name but rather a vague descriptor much like a superhero codename that describes their position in this world or the film.
Halle Berry is perhaps my least favorite addition to the cast. She is certainly a fine actress but her general style is an ill fit for the world of John Wick. She has too much attitude for an individual that must function and survive in a world with strict and inviolable rules. I see her character of Sofia as not that different in temperament than Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) from the first film.
Mark Dacascos does a fine job of combining cold killer and John Wick fanboy in his role. The Adjudicator is icy and business like. Her chilly demeanor makes her above being intimidated by Winston, the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), or even John Wick himself. And she stands her own against them in each scene.
What this movie does is craft characters that are tough and strong from the moment they come on screen without having to do anything. That goes as much to the writing as it does actors. You certainly need adequate writing but if the actors cannot pull it off you are sunk. Each one comes on and you know you are dealing with serious individuals. And it is not done by physique like with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone in their prime but rather more like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and even Jimmy Stewart in his tough guy work. It is a stance, a tone, or a look that says, “Don’t mess with me.”
The city is as much of a character in this as John Wick or Winston or anyone else is. The Wick films have wisely decided to have a sound and look all their own rather than try to emulate others. You can certainly make one entertaining action film by copying somebody but three is tough.
In that respect this movie doesn’t do anything too unique in the John Wick world. It has a similar pattern to the others, but you go to this not looking for groundbreaking. You are looking to be entertained and get some vicarious thrills and Parabellum certainly delivers that.
John Wick: Chapter 3–Parabellum is a strong entry to a strong action series. It has as much thrills as its predecessors and expands only as necessary. If you liked the first two you will love this one!