Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

One word review of John Wick 3: CHAOS.

While those who deride the ‘action’ genre as being endless violence with very little plot may generalise their observations, rarely would a film fit this description in quite the way ‘Parabellum’ does. It’s two hours of endless violence, vehicle chases, over-the-top fight scenes, and of course, (it’s David Leitch) neon. Needless neon, completely contrived and unnecessary neon, but much appreciated neon. And if you’re looking for any form of a plot? It’s John Wick. You’ve had three films now to work this out. They killed his dog. That’s literally it.

There’s not too many stand out points from this film, one which appears to attempt to combine Atomic Blonde with Kill Bill, and then add it’s own, completely OTT spin on it. Keanu Reeves provides a stellar performance, but, despite her presence on screen barely lasting twenty minutes, he’s outclassed by Halle Berry. John Wick may have blasted his way through endless villains and sword masters in his time, but Sofia would have him for toast. Ian McShane puts in another superb performance as Winston, while Asia Kate Dillon is wonderful as the Lisbeth Salander-esque Adjudicator. Lance Reddick and Laurence Fishburne are also excellent once more, as concierge Charon and pigeon handler (and, now, utterly crazed) Bowery.

‘Parabellum’ won’t make any greatest film lists. It goes on, to put it bluntly. While scenes in the first three quarters of the film, notably ones involving horses, dogs, weapons shops and motorbikes, are entertaining, new and (the former especially) unique, the showdown with Zero seems to stretch for an eternity. Plus, how many people need to be shafted with a sword to make the point clear? I’ve never criticised a film for having too much action, and I appreciate it… but fuck. This isn’t a film that needs to run for 131 minutes. At least there wasn’t any long winded realisations and emotional moments relating to a love interest, which EVERY film in this genre seems to love traipsing out.

The final twist is great, possibly the only bit of good story writing in the entire saga. It sets up Chapter 4 excellently, and with a clear objective, something which this film seemed to lack. Indeed, the vague thread of a plot (i.e. him escaping an excommunicado called at the end of ‘John Wick 2’) seemed to have been somewhat abandoned by the end. As much as I love this franchise (and I am very happy it performed brilliantly at box office, as that means more films), ‘Parabellum’ is, I can say with certainty, the weakest film of the three.

John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ is now on Netflix UK. ‘John Wick 4’ is planned for release on May 21, 2021.

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