Updated: Jun 3, 2020
“Parabellum” marks the best in the franchise with better action and plenty of blood.
By Gabriel Arizon, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Keanu Reeves makes a bloody, bullet-ridden return in his third outing as John Wick, amping up the stylized action and violence to a delightful degree. “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” takes what worked in the previous two films, adds more visceral combat, explores more of Wick’s past and delivers the best of the trilogy.
“Parabellum” takes place immediately after “John Wick: Chapter 2.” Wick has now become a marked man with a $14 million bounty on his head after murdering a high-ranking crime boss in the Continental, an assassin-serving hotel that strictly forbids killing on its grounds. Now, chased by every assassin in New York, he shoots and stabs his way through them while trying to survive.
One of the main themes of the film is consequences, as Wick’s destructive actions are catching up with him. He is barred from receiving any help, and those that do or have helped him before are faced with harsh punishments of their own. The film does a good job of showing Wick at the end of his rope.
Those that loved the gun battles, hand-to-hand combat and slick camera work in the first two movies will be pleased that those elements are still being well executed. The violence is just as bloody, and each strike delivered feels more impactful than in previous entries. The gun-fu on display is as precise as ever, and the longer martial arts sequences demonstrate even more of Wick’s deadly skills.
Though her time in the film is relatively short, Halle Berry’s role as a fellow assassin is certainly memorable. Her set piece, where she takes down dozens of goons alongside Wick and her two trained German Shepherds, is one of the best in the movie. Seeing her highly coordinated canine companions viciously tackle and chomp through thugs while she blasts through everyone else is a ton of fun.
Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne return and are just as good as before. The assassin known as Zero (Mark Dacascos) adds a nice blend of humor into the mix as he and his ninja-like thugs present an even greater threat to Wick. Additional performances by Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston and Asia Kate Dillon help to flesh out the criminal underworld and Wick’s past.
While the pacing of the movie is solid throughout, there are a few odd character choices here and there. There is one particular moment halfway through the movie where Wick makes a decision that does not feel like one that his character would make. It feels a bit jarring, considering what we know of him.
Anyone who enjoyed the last two movies in the franchise will certainly be satisfied with this third chapter. The action is exactly the way fans want it, just better. If you are a fan of over-the-top action and some blood, then “Parabellum” is a no-brainer.