John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum

Release Date:May 17, 2019
Review Date:May 19, 2019
Reviewer:Blake Leath
Genre(s):Action & Adventure

I think badass is the word you're searching for. Yep. Badass.

Oh, parabellum? That just means "prepare for war." (Think antebellum.) Very straightforward marketing here...truth in advertising. Nothing up the sleeve.

I love/love/love the John Wick franchise (I think they're really onto something here). It's very basic. Intuitive. Kinetic from start to finish. And such luscious ambience: blue-red mood lighting...tons of glass, mirror and chrome...plush, cozy, purple, tufted, velveteen settees...brass-tack, leather Kensington couches...fog machines galore...and tremendous tailoring on every man, woman and child from sea to shining sea! It's just so stylistically sensational, as if Kate Beckinsale's Underworld vampires and lycanthropes joined forces with James Bond's design team to create a boutique, electronica nocturnal sanctum for million milers. Just the coolest thing ever.

For its part, Chapter 3 carries water much like before. It's wall to wall "gun fu," a series of gun-centric fight sequences strung together for the better part of two hours. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. Gosh, the numbers of rounds expended, knives and hatchets and grenades and flash-bangs tossed, swords slashed and eyeballs stabbed must be in the thousands when taken all together. The krav maga/close combat makes Jason Bourne look like an octogenarian, for cryin' out loud. (Though there is a lot of 'waiting' on display from second and third-person attackers, for which I call foul.)

That fakery aside, John Wick draws on such a fantastically frenetic cinematic foundation, its DNA handed down from 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1967's Point Blank, and contemporary gems including John Woo's Hard Boiled, Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance (aka The Vengeance Trilogy), Jeong-beom Lee's Man from Nowhere, and of course the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix, which brings us full circle back to Keanu.

Compared to parts 1 and 2, I will say that Chapter 3 is perhaps weaker. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would have liked more variety and a little less fighting. The fact that it is NONSTOP fighting is a bit much, even for a genre lover like me. It's almost like eating a basket of bread rolls then an entire pizza or two without having anything to drink. Too much of a good thing...without the vital other thing.

("A little less action, a little more conversation, please.")

Nonetheless, it's still a blast. 

For you eggheads out there who recognize Zero but can't place him beyond Iron Chef America, he's Mark Dacascos from 1993's Only the Strong. Crazy, right? My, oh my, how time flies.

Giddyup, pardner.