Film: “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”; Director: Chad Stahelski; Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, Anjelica Huston, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian; Rating: *** (3 stars)
This neo-noir action thriller, as the title suggests, is the third edition of the John Wick universe. For the uninitiated; John Wick is an assassin, not just an ordinary assassin but the best of the best and a most dreaded one at that. He is, “the myth and the legend”.
The narrative picks up mere moments after the second film ends. It offers a breathless opening act, with Wick racing through Manhattan with less than an hour on the clock, before being declared an absconder and “ex-communicado”, from the global community of assassins, by Continental manager Winston (Ian McShane) for killing a crime boss on the hotel grounds.
What adds gravitas to the declaration, is the $14 million bounty on his head, which results in every mercenary assassin worth his salt trying to stake claim on the bounty by eliminating Wick, who has no other option but as the title, “Parabellum” in Latin suggests, “prepare for war”.
Chased through the streets, cornered at the library where he goes to retrieve two concealed items — a “marker” (medallion) and a crucifix — John is simply unbeatable. He even travels all the way to Casablanca where he fights alongside Halle Berry. He simply fights, all while looking good in black designer suits and while keeping the good old boy network alive with wordless nod of kinship to Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) or Winston (Ian McShane), one at a time.
The narrative is not as smooth as you’d like it to be. The complexities of the tale would be familiar to the fans of the franchise. But that does not deter a lay person to enjoy the brutal, jaw-dropping fight sequences.
Except for the action sequence in the library which appears to be forced and amateurish, the rest of the action sequences are astutely choreographed. Each piece is treated exclusively with quirky stunts and twisted sense of humour. There are bare-handed fisti-cuffs, Kung-fu and fights with knives, axes, guns and in certain scenario even fights with horses. The glass-room showdown is a staggering series high-point that is stretched a wee bit too much.
John’s nemesis come in all shapes and sizes. Each one formidable, ruthless and distinct. They are menacing and provide Reeves’ Wick with his biggest challenge to date. This ups the challenge quotient as Wick himself is pushed even further into superhuman territory than ever before. He gets hurt, badly at points, but his recoveries become so incredulous as the film goes on that the whole thing goes a step too far with the suspension of disbelief.
Keanu Reeves is synonymous with John Wick as he once again slips into Wick’s boots effortlessly. Stylish and impressive, he dominates the narration with limited lines and ample action. His brooding, dark and determined performance easily establishes him as one of the coolest action heroes of his times.
Overall, “Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is an exhilarating, sometimes semi-comic and occasionally mere exhausting, but nevertheless appealing.
(Troy Ribeiro can be reached at email@example.com)