As always, I will do my best not to reveal any major spoilers, but be warned, specifics of the movie ahead……
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The John Wick movies have been getting bigger and better with each installment and John Wick 3: Parabellum keeps that trend alive with its non-stop action literally from start to finish!
For the third installment of this action-packed franchise, we see Keanu Reeves reprise the role of everyone’s favorite un-retired master assassin John Wick. We also see the return of Ian McShane as Winston, Lance Reddick as Charon and Laurence Fishbourne as the Bowery King. New to this chapter are Halle Berry’s Sofia, Asia Kate Dillon’s Adjudicator and Mark Dacascos’ Zero.
Unfortunately, no John Leguizamo this time though.
John Wick 3: Parabellum is also the most educational of the Wick films so far. For example, I knew Parabellum was the name for the most common hand gun ammo on the planet, but if I acted like I knew it was also Latin for “prepare for war,” I’d be lying.
Seriously, all this action and a Latin lesson? I feel like my $10 ticket was a bargain.
“Guns. Lots Of Guns.”
As with the previous 2 films, John Wick 3 features lots and lots of gunfire, fast paced action and extremely well choreographed fight scenes. Except this time, the action scenes are more frequent, larger in scale and more intense.
The movie kicks off right where the previous movie left off with John Wick attempting to escape from New York, not the easiest thing to do with a $14 million bounty on your head. This treats the audience to a half hour of crazy action.
The well choreographed fight scenes that Wick finds himself in throughout the film demonstrate high level techniques from various martial arts including Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu, Kali, Sambo and Judo. And that’s just the ones my novice eye recognized.
I love this new trend where action movies credit audience’s intelligence by keeping the action in ‘real time’ speed (such as the Bourne films) and don’t feed the need to dumb the moves down with slow-motion photography (Mission Impossible II).
While the John Woo inspired slow slo-mo gun fights and flying doves are fun once in a while (Hard Boiled is still one of my favorite movies), that is not what modern audiences are looking for anymore.
With the rise in popularity of modern martial arts, such as Krav Maga, audiences are more sophisticated, more educated and crave realism on the screen. There is no quicker way for a movie to lose credibility than to have the hard drinking super-cop jump on top of a car (rather than using it for cover) to blast away the bad guy.
Halle Berry’s Sofia
Halle Berry is a terrific actress who has unfortunately been saddled with some horrible scripts over the years (cough…Catwoman….cough), but she really excelled as fellow retired-but-not-really-retired assassin Sophia.
Sophia is running the Continental hotel in Morocco when Wick goes to see her for assistance in gaining an audience with the high council. What ensues is one of the greatest gunfights in movie history with bullets, knives and German Shepherds flying everywhere!
Berry’s stunts were very impressive and she’s a complete bad-@$$ in this movie! Her on screen chemistry with Reeves felt smooth and natural in the dramatic scenes as well as the action ones.
Speaking of the dramatic scenes (there really wasn’t a ton of dialogue in this film), a significant amount of screen time was spent on character building Sophia and her shared history with Wick, who helped rescue her daughter from ‘this life’. They built her character to the point where she could easily carry her own spin-off film.
Which makes sense in this modern age of cinema where franchise building is so important. My guess is Lion’s Gate will wait to see what returns come this summer from the Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw before making anything official.
In the mean time, hopefully we will be seeing more of her in the upcoming John Wick Chapter 4 (already confirmed for May of 2021).
Alright, I’ll admit it. I’ve got a man crush for Mark Dacascos.
Dacascos is an incredible martial artist and actor who has unfortunately been regulated to the small screen for much of his career (I think this is the first time I’ve seen him on the silver screen since 2001’s Brotherhood of the Wolf).
His humorous and deadly Wick-hunting-assassin/Wick-fanboy Zero was one of the best characters in the Wick series so far.
I’m pretty sure there was one…I think…somewhere…
There was one part of the film which felt a little forced/unnecessary/confusing: Wick wandering through the Sahara to seek out the head of the high table.
Wick had reached rock bottom. We get it. Did we really need him wandering the desert to further communicate this?
And the high council is run by a Bedoin Sheik from a nomadic campsite in the Sahara devoid of all technology?
Another thing I noticed is that, while Wick comes out on top of all his battles, he does get his butt kicked. A lot. He gets shot, stabbed, kicked, punched, sliced, insulted…you name it.
Between this and his new adjusted body count, I may need to re-consider where he landed on my Toughest ‘Johns’ in Movie History list.
Other Quick Bullet Points
- Parabellum set up the 4th installment nicely. So nicely that a release date of May 21st 2021 has already been set for John Wick 4
- There are a whole lot of assassins running around New York City. According to the John Wick universe (Wick-Verse?), assassin-for-hire is the favored side hustle of nearly every homeless person, sushi chef and taxi driver in NYC
- I liked seeing the extra screen time for the Continental hotel loyal and Wick loyal Charon. In the Dynamite comic book mini-series, John Wick saved Charon’s life in a previous adventure. I’m not sure if this is considered ‘canon’ for the movies (I’m guessing not because Wick’s origin was different), but that would explain Charon’s loyalty to Wick.
- The public library scene is where Wick ‘hits the books’ with the 7-foot-tall Ernest, played by one time Detroit Piston Boban Marjanovic. Undoubtably the best performance on or off the court by a Detroit Piston since the 2004 season.
Keanu Reeves may not have a wide range of emotions, but he has certainly played a wide range of characters over his long career: Bill of Bill & Ted, Neo of the Matrix trilogy, Falco from the Replacements, Jack in Speed and compulsive gambler/ticket scalper/little league baseball coach Conor in Hardball (which I think was the best performance of his career).
While credible performances were turned in by all cast members in this film, that is not the reason people are paying to see a John Wick film. The John Wick fanbase want to see action. action and more action and John Wick 3: Parabellum delivered!
In the end, John Wick 3: Parabellum earns a 4.5 out of 5 on the Geeky Daddy Movie Rating Scale and a Definitely Not Kid Friendly on the Geeky Daddy Sidekick Scale.
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