Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.
The 3rd instalment in the ‘John Wick’ series is a return to form after a middling second outing (at least in my opinion) as we join the eponymous character shortly after the events of the second film, where he was made ‘excommunicado’ by the High Table. This film is pretty much non stop action from the get go and it features some of the best action sequences since ‘The Raid’ and it’s sequel, overseen by director and stunt co-ordinator Chad Stahelski. Besides the expected action, ‘Parabellum’ expands the world these characters live in to encompass a wider network of assassins and supporting staff and it dovetails well with the superbly choreographed fight sequences.
As the film begins, John Wick is on his own (aside from his trusted canine companion) with the clock running down on the hour he was provided as a headstart to get away. Calling in a favour helps him to escape New York but the High Table have a large bounty on him and eyes everywhere, so he’s never able to rest for too long. Things escalate further when Winston (Ian McShane) and The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) are implicated in providing aid to Wick after his excommunication and things start to converge as Wick once again, tries to fight and survive. There are a couple of key reasons as to why the first ‘John Wick’ was so successful, namely the superb action sequences and the world building. I felt the second film was too focused on the action at the expense of other elements, so it’s great to see the third film continue to expand on the assassin’s underworld with their own social code, without skimping on the action. Keanu Reeves is once again perfect in the leading role and he is essentially the straight man to the more colourful characters that operate around him. Alongside returning favourites like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and Fishburne we have new characters played by Halle Berry, Asia Kate Dillon and Mark Dacascos, who all fit seamlessly into this heightened reality.
The film is a little over 2 hours long and whilst it doesn’t drag, it probably could have shaved a couple of action sequences which do become a little indulgent particularly in the latter part. I do like the approach which is almost to think of something cool, such as John Wick riding a horse through New York, then work it into the plot afterwards, but that sometimes has its failings and is where Stahelski’s limitations as a director perhaps come to the fore. That being said, this is a blast and is right back to the form of the first film – entertaining, action packed with just the right level of quirkiness and I really liked ‘Parabellum’.
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, Anjelica Huston, Lance Reddick, Said Taghmaoui, Jason Mantzoukas, Jerome Flynn and Robin Lord Taylor