The latest entry in Keanu Reeve’s action-packed franchise arrives in Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum from director Chad Stahelski. Picking up immediately after the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2, this third installment finds Wick (Keanu Reeves) a marked man on the run as the High Table has declared Wick excommunicado. This means all of the benefits which were available to Wick as a hitman are no longer accessible. Wick reaches out to old friends Sofia (Halle Berry) and “the Director” (Anjelica Huston) to help him out of his life-threatening situations. Meanwhile, Wick’s associates Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) must face the wrath of “The Adjudicator” (Asia Kate Dillon) for assisting Wick previously. To achieve her goals, The Adjudicator hires deadly assassin Zero (Mark Dacascos).
Part of what makes the John Wick movies so appealing is the authentic feel that former stunt-man-turned-director Chad Stahelski provides. Ten minutes into the movie, John has his first fight against an opponent in a public library. The battle is brutal and realistic. The characters run out of bullets and actually have to reload their firearms as opposed to having a never-ending clip. There are also numerous inventive action sequences that involve horses, hot tubs, guns, knives, and hand-to-hand combat.
Portraying the character for the third time, Reeves has a natural knack for the brooding personality the role requires. Returning cast members Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne were also enjoyable. Both men are talented in their own right and it’s a joy to see them interact with Reeves. I’m hoping that this latest film in the franchise is a success, as I would love to see backstories on Winston and the Bowery King.
I would have to say that the standouts for me were the new characters Sofia and Zero,who proved to be a formidable foe for Wick. Halle Berry (who was never given a proper action franchise after her Bond Girl appearance seventeen years ago) is terrific as Sofia. With a take no prisoners approach, Berry had some great moments in the film which showcased her acting skills. While Mark Dacascos, whose work I’ve enjoyed in martial arts films for over twenty years, shined as our primary villain. Dacascos, a skilled fighter in his own right, brought a demented swagger to the role of Zero. Hopefully, this film opens up doors for both Berry and Dacascos.
John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum is a highly enjoyable action-fest. There are few things I would’ve tightened up. With a two-hour plus runtime, Derek Kolstad’s script could’ve trimmed down some of the middle section in the film which drags. I was hoping for some moments with Halle Berry’s Sofia because the character is that much fun to watch.
With most franchises, by the time a series reaches the third film, the formula is routine. In some cases, the final product is a letdown. With John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum, Reeves and his director have not only crafted a great action flick, but they’ve also given audiences one of the best sequels in recent memory.
Final Grade: A-