CERT: 15 | DIRECTOR: CHAD STAHELSKI | SCREENPLAY: DEREK KOLSTAD | STARRING: KEANU REEVES, HALLE BERRY, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, MARK DACASCOS, ASIA KATE DILLON, LANCE REDDICK, ANJELICA HUSTON, IAN MCSHANE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
“Si vis pacem, para bellum” (or “If you want peace, prepare for war”), but can the bogeyman ever really know peace? Well... he’s working on it. When retired, recently widowed, master assassin John Wick opened the floodgates of wrath upon those bastards who stole his car and brutally killed his puppy (his last hope at a loving soulmate in a time of grief and final gift from his late wife), an icon was born. John Wick marked a resurgence and long overdue appreciation for Keanu Reeves, and in 2017 director Chad Stahelski’s awesome sequel took the lore even further and remarkably managed to up the action ante. Now, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is here and believe the hype… it’s an action classic.
Picking up pretty much directly from the last film, Wick is excommunicated (or ‘excommunicado’) from The Continental and is the focus of all hitmen thanks to the $14 million contract on his head. Our hero will now have to fight his way out of New York and seek what few favours he has left to stay alive. Throughout the movies, Wick's legend has travelled the world, and his unstoppable past has only added to his deadly aura, but in this entry, we see the ‘baba yaga’ slowly re-emerging, only this time he’s arguably more dangerous as he finds purpose, alongside the will to survive and endure the pain.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, like Mad Max Fury Road, is an innovative display of action but also a story filled with ambition. The world building elements of Chapter 2 are expanded, as this shadowy sub-culture of rules, honour, and death opens up even further, with some bold and quite risky plot and character developments. The film also impressively delves into the soul of Wick himself, showing how a man who has lost so much still needs to live and asks whether his past has irreparably set his future. Daring to deal in the stakes and consequences that come with tough decisions, age, and past promises, Parabellum is a tale of personal and physical resolve and how ‘the path to paradise begins in hell’.
Stahelski directs some of the greatest action scenes in cinema history here (a dog-assisted gun brawl is one of the most incredible sequences we have ever witnessed, and an early library fight is the first of many jaw-dropping moments), as Dan Laustsen’s sublime cinematography and Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard’s score ensures that same impeccable style of previous instalments accompanies even the most sickening acts of violence (and there is some truly toe-curling stuff). The focused camerawork captures every expert motion of the faultless choreography and this sword-slashing, dog-leaping, bike-flipping, no holds barred bombardment of mayhem fits perfectly around a non-stop narrative that culminates on a - potentially divisive - tightrope.
Reeves continues to be relentless as Wick, bringing that reserved cool and contained torment and delivering perhaps his most impressively physical performance yet. Halle Berry offers fantastic support as fellow dog-loving assassin Sofia, while Ian McShane and Lance Reddick’s returns are excellent, and Laurence Fishburne - who is 100% invested to this story and character - is clearly loving every minute of it, just as the viewer undoubtedly will.
Reeves’ reckoning continues, and the exhilarating John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum puts the unremovable stamp of approval on this series' richly deserved classification as the best action franchise in decades, and one of the best of all time. Oh, and fellow animal lovers, fret not, this time they do the killing, as well as Keanu that is!