Film: “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”; Director: Chad Stahelski; Cast: Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry; Rating: *
While I sat frozen through this excessively violent, sadistic porn action, I wondered why we Indians have to be subjected to this opulent ordeal? As the American Dream curdles into an American Nightmare, one-time superstar Keanu Reeves’ career hits a rock-bottom of desperate measures.
Here, the “Matrix” star returns to doing what he likes best. Bone-smashing action. But in his earlier action avatars, Keanu was fun to watch. There is no joy in watching the heads and limbs being hurled at hard objects. Even watching him gallop on a horse through the streets of New York is no fun. The fights, which recur with alarming and annoying frequency, are mostly hand-to-hand combat types where bloodied noses are a given.
It should have been fun to watch. But it isn’t.
And with good reason. Keanu is caught in a plot that heaves, groans and collapses under the weight of self-serving titillation. The action here is the athletic version of pornography. Meant to provide thrills. Apparently, a section of the audience gets highly turned on watching combats that eventuate in grievous loss of life, property, sanity and rationale.
The plot is a mess filled with non-harnessed chase sequences which run through the streets of New York in pursuit of a thrill that was long ago forsaken by architects of a frantic franchise determined to get back an audience that has rapidly moved.
“John Wick 3…” is an unwanted intrusion, something that we may have desired ten years ago. Today it looks over-done and smells of wasted bloodshed. While outstanding American films like “Leave No Trace” and “On The Basis Of Sex” are unreleased, “John Wick” comes to us in all its gory glory.
The tone of narration is so wretchedly dark and self-important that it robs the violence of all its choreographic charm. Joining Keanu Reeves is the talented Halle Berry whose career has seen better days. To see her flip somersault and gambol in a film whose heightened stunt repository crashlands with a thud, is to grieve for waylaid talent.
The third instalment of “John Wick” exudes the blood red flaming colours of a violent kick-boxing match but conveys none of its thrills. As John Wick dodges one near-fatal attempt to eliminate after another we feel no sense of anxiety, except the repeated question in our minds: when can we extricate ourselves from this loud, belligerent torture chamber?
And yes, what are talents like Anjelica Huston and Laurence Fishburne doing in a film so denuded of charm it feels like third-degree torture. Spare us trash from American cinema. We already have enough of it to deal with.
(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)