by Alan Yudman
John Wick goes interior.. thinks about the consequences of his actions and decides to honor his wife and dog by doing good work and volunteering at an animal shelter.
Allow me to cut that faux plot to ribbons with one of the thousands of knives and samurai swords used in the latest ultra-violent (uber violent.. what’s more violent than violent?), sequel JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM. But there is something of a message here about choices and consequences.
Chapter 3 picks up less than an hour after the Chapter 2 left off. John has been targeted for execution by The High Table after breaking the rules by killing someone inside the safe haven of The Continental. Winston (Ian McShane) give him an hour to prepare. How can he escape thousands of assassins motivated by a $14+ million bounty? If you have to ask you don’t know John Wick.
Other than the great style created and continued by director Chad Stahelski (and David Leitch in Chapter 1), you come to see what new ways they will find to kill people. I won’t spoil them with specifics but think, in no particular order: Horses, knives, guns (“lots of guns”), motorcycles, swords, dogs, and well I kind of lost track at some point. And each method is unique. It’s not just, “ok, let’s fight with swords”. It’s “ok let’s fight with swords in a complete bonkers way.” That is why this franchise continues to build its box office and really keeps getting better with each installment.
Many people will think of the iconic Keanu Reeves role as Thomas “Neo” Anderson or Ted Logan. Nope. For my money, this is it. John Wick requires Reeves to mine his ability to be a very good physical actor without spending a lot of time emoting or talking. He glowers, he kills, he embodies the bad ass assassin with just enough humanity to allow you root for him.
The rest of the cast is awesome. You look at the list and wonder, “how did they get that actor to do this”? Angelica Huston, Jerome Flynn (Bronn from Game of Thrones), McShane, Lance Reddick, Lawrence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos (the Chairman from Iron Chef America) all have prominent and important roles. And they’re all great. Asia Kate Dillon is wonderful as “The Adjudicator”, tasked with making everyone pay for helping John (remember, choices and consequences). The standout though is Halle Berry. She is a total badass in this as the “Winston” of the Casablanca Continental who helps John because of a blood oath. There is honor among assassins.
My only quibble, and it’s a minor one, is that the final big fight set piece may have gone on a bit too long. But that’s a taste thing and didn’t make me like the movie any less.
I’ve read some criticism about the way they set up the inevitable John Wick: Chapter 4. My response would be, what? There is a totally satisfying twist that makes it believable. The John Wick series is the gold standard in this genre. And who wouldn’t want more gold?