John Wick represents the first time I have ever watched the previous two installments in a franchise the same day I went to see the next one. If you haven’t seen the first two John Wick films I would highly recommend watching them prior to watching this third chapter. Parabellum improves upon the action Gunfu of its predecessor and gives us a better story than Chapter 2, but doesn’t quite give us the same compelling story as the first John Wick.
Parabellum continues to tell the story of John Wick as he once again tries to leave this world of assassins behind. Last we saw John he had killed someone on Continental ground. This action resulted in a contract being put on his life. Winston, the manager of the Continental and played by Ian McShane, gives John one hour before the contract is released. This film starts with John attempting to escape from New York City during that hour. Soon we learn that this world of assassins is controlled by a “High Table” and John’s journey in this chapter is to find that man that sits above the “High Table” and make ammends.
Along the way there are consequences for those who chose to help John, namely Winston and the Bowery King, played by Laurence Fishburne, who is the eyes and ears of New York via his homeless assassin network. These consequences run deep and threaten to take the power away from these powerful individuals. Winston has a lot to do in this film and by far has more to do this time around. Fisburne does a great job playing the Bowery King and I’m excited for his future in this series.
One character who gets a much deserved shout out is Charon the Concierge played perfectly in every John Wick film by Lance Reddick. I have always loved his character and in this film he is finally given the action and appreciation he deserves. A few more characters are also introduced to the franchise in this chapter.
Anjelica Huston plays a character called the Director. She runs a Russian underground network that raises and trains orphans to be assassins. The film gives us the impression that John Wick was one of those children and this is where he first learned all of his skills. Huston does a fine job with what little she is given and will most assuredly play a larger role in future installments.
Two new villain characters in this film are The Ajudicator, played by Asia Kate Dillon, and Zero, played by the Chairman himself Mark Dacascos. The Ajudicator is just the worse and I guess that’s what they were going for. She never felt dangerous or scary, more just privileged and annoying. However, Zero was great. He came across as a huge John Wick fan boy and I really enjoyed every scene he was in with Keanu Reeves.
My one gripe with this film is that some of the action goes on a little too long. In particular the action set pieces against Zero and his New York ninjas was really cool, but went on three times longer than what was necessary. The best part of that scene was the ninja’s in training wanting to continue fighting John Wick for practice and being amazed that they are fighting the actually John Wick.
Keanu Reeves continues to give his all to this franchise and knocks it out of the park once again in this third installment. The action set pieces that starts off this movie are amazing. Seeing Reeves fight against a giant with only a book may be worthy of the best action moment of the year. I loved the knife fight where we learn he is just as accurate with knives as he is with guns. It was truly an epic knife fight.
Perhaps the riskiest and my favorite action set piece of the movie happens at the end. John Wick finally faces his worst enemy, men with protective helmets. This leads to some of the best action in the whole franchise as John has to figure out how to shoot these guys in the head and also lead to the best ShotGunFu ever!
Much like the previous entry in the franchise this film feels like another huge setup for Chapter 4 and if you thought Chapter 2 left on a high note Chapter 3 goes one step further. If you like the films in this franchise or just good visceral action then I would highly recommend watching Parabellum.