JOHN WICK : CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM (2019)

  • Release Date: 17/05/2019
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon
  • Director: Chad Stahelski

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum starts exactly where the second chapter concluded. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a one hour head start before he is ex-communicated and a bounty is placed on his head for upsetting the balance and going against the rules of the High Table. As John makes his way through a piling body count of the whose-who of the assassins network of New York, he is forced to retrace his origin, bring in help from friends from his past who hate his guts and finally reach all the way up to the top of the ladder of the High Table in order to stop the carnage. As John fights his own war, the High Table quickly moves to strike and take over the control of the New York scene swiftly dispatching off all who ever aided John Wick.

Anyone who has seen the John Wick films knows fairly well that this is not the kind of film that is guided by plot, drama, and nuances. The plot here is just a forwarding factor for the action which has always been at the center of the film’s charm apart from its swashbuckling leading man. Once again John Wick gives us the kind of action that is worth revisiting. Fresh, stylized, unabashed and physical. The moment this film ended, I wanted to buy another ticket and immediately re-watch it. That I wanted to do not for the performances, the plot or the drama. I just wanted to revisit the action sequences that made up almost 2-3rd of the film. I am pretty sure that every time I re-watch this film I will find something new to cheer about in the action sequences. This is a film that is almost a lesson on how to choreograph, shoot and edit action sequences.

I just loved the wide angles that the cinematographer Dan Laustsen uses for the action sequences. I was able to enjoy the action unfold in its vitality with long takes that let me enjoy every punch and blow in a way that it was meant to be enjoyed. This also went on to emphasize the fact that the actors put in more than sweat and blood to get these sequences right. It was apparent that Keanu Reeves did most of his action sequences himself and that just helped the cause of the cinematographer to give us angles that would not have been possible had an extra been used. The long takes lets our eyes get used to the elaborate action set pieces and the speed of the movements are just about perfect to let us enjoy the moves and the shocking outcomes that they bring with them.

Gun-fights are seldom as exciting as they are in John Wick films. As was the case with the first and the second film, the latest entry brings to the table fresh takes on the gun-fights. The climatic gun-fight sequence is one of the most elaborate and well-crafted action sequences of the film. The director did something in this sequence that I was really hoping he would and he did it with aplomb elevating the feel of realism of this sequence. There is a lot of martial arts action involved too and Reeves holds his own in these sequences. There were a few moments when his speed suffered but there was nothing in it that would have spoiled the fun. I just loved the very first fight of the film that pits John against a man twice his size. It is followed up by a chase sequence and fight that extracted the most number of oh!s in the theater that I was watching it in. The action sequence involving Halle Berry and her two dogs was imaginative and fierce.

Keanu Reeves plays John Wick with the kind of assurance that comes with starting off a character and living with it through three films. He is supremely in control of the mannerisms of the man and is in as much sync with his inner workings as he is with his hands and feet. In the midst of all the action and the mayhem, John gets to share a few worthwhile sequences of calm with Ian McShane, Halle Berry, and Mark Dacascos. I particularly enjoyed his one-on-one with Halle Berry. Berry is not in the film for as long as the trailers suggested but she does enough to grab your attention. Mark Dacascos feels like the kind of baddy who could get the better of Wick but they should have kept his comic antics at a check. He does so much comedy in the end that it becomes difficult to take him seriously in the climactic battle.

The film does have its share of issues. There is a considerable portion of the film that unfolds in and around the interval mark where John crosses a desert to meet with a certain leader. This portion is rendered meaningless by the course of action that John takes in the end. This portion also slows down the pace of the film which up till that point was breakneck. The climactic battle between John and his primary adversary also doesn’t have the kind of impact that the action sequences of the rest of the film do. I also had some issues with the way the film set up another sequel.

Having said all that, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is still a ravishing watch for its action, visuals and the charisma of Keanu Reeves and an ensemble cast of fine actors. It is the kind of film that you need to enjoy for what it is without thinking too much about reason and logic. It will provide you with enough action and enough reason for that action to unfold. Add to that the variation and freshness in the action and you have a film that is worth your time and money on any given day.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

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