The Baba Yaga is back for another round of stylized, violent action in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.” When we last left John Wick (Keanu Reeves), he was fleeing after being forced to kill someone in The Continental, a hotel meant to be a central hub for assassins that counts as consecrated ground. In other words, no business is to be conducted in The Continental. That “business” is usually murder.
At the outset of the film, John Wick has an hour before he becomes excommunicado with a $14 million bounty on his head. Now he has to call in all the favors he has stored up across his years as the world’s greatest hit-man in order to clear his name and continue living his life, in memory of his wife.
From its opening scenes, “John Wick: Chapter 3” is an exhilarating and wildly entertaining display of fight choreography and cinematography. Following two films that expertly tackled the same topics, it would have been easy for this newest installment to ride their coattails with quick camera movements, a few gun fights, a few moments of slow, brutal violence, but it doesn’t settle for that. “John Wick: Chapter 3” is built around a series of set pieces that are creatively constructed and executed.
Some of the standouts are the opening fight between John and Ernest, played by the Philadelphia 76ers own Boban Marjanovic; a fight that takes place in a narrow hall with walls lined with knives; a motorcycle chase that saw John Wick riding on horseback and a scene where Wick takes on a minting compound with the help of Sofia, played by Halle Berry (“X-Men,” “Cloud Atlas,”) and her two terrifying German Shepherds.
The final showdown is also extremely intense and well-shot but for the sake of spoilers I’ll leave out the details.
The “John Wick” series is one with a narrow focus. Movies should be judged on a scale of how well they achieve what they set to achieve. “John Wick” isn’t trying to pull out the heart-strings or make the audience cry tears of joy or laughter. The main goal is to present amazing action in a visually pleasing way. The performances, while solid for the most part, take a back seat to the stunt work. The dialogue, which is often blunt and cheesy, gets pushed aside in favor of creating these unique set-pieces. The first two films have achieved this goal to an impressive degree, and this installment is no exception.
The story has its fair share of twists and turns to keep things interesting along the way, and the chemistry between major characters is both convincing and entertaining. Zero, played by Mark Dacascos (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,”) has this fun dynamic with Wick. He has moments of comedic relief sandwiched between intense physicality and it works surprisingly well.
Visually the film follows in the steps of its predecessors with everything being fairly dark with a blue filter over it. The style is very sleek and sharp, with occasional subtitles popping up on screen in font that looks like it’s lifted straight out of an early 2000s film. It’s a visual style that wouldn’t necessarily work for many films but works perfectly for this series.
“Parabellum” is more of the same for John Wick but that’s not a problem. There is enough creativity and visceral action and violence to keep you on the edge of your seat for the surprisingly quick two-hour runtime. For fans of action, it’s a must-see.