Movie Reviews

Published on May 10th, 2019 | by gareth

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John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

“John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” literally hits the ground running as the film opens with the title star (Keanu Reeves) and his faithful dog running desperately through the rain soaked streets of New York. Wick is set to have every major player after him and 14 million dollar bounty in less than an hour and he is desperate to find a way out of his situation.

Picking up moments from the end of the last film, Wick is persona non grata due to his decision to conduct business on the grounds of the Continental which while providing services and sanctuary to those in his profession; is strictly forbidden.

As he gets closer to the appointed hour; the streets fill with assassins looking to take down the legend and this drives Wick to desperately call in a Marker with a figure from his past (Anjelica Houston) in order to get passage from the city.

Wick hopes that by meeting with the head of the Table he can get the bounty removed and stop running for his life. This of course requires him to deal with figures from his past such as Sofia (Halle Berry) who would sooner shoot him rather than help him due to the enormous risks associated with helping him in any way.

Of course the bodies pile up along the way as Wick dispatches countless foes in creative and brutal fashion showing his reputation is still very well earned.

The film also has a very clever secondary story that involves Winston (Ian McShane) being forced to atone for his willingness to give Wick a one hour head start at the end of the last film and this of course will bring things full circle as Wick must decide what is most important to him as he tries to find a way out of his deadly situation.

Toss in a master assassin (Mark Dacascos) and his army of rogues after Wick and the film never lets up once. It is an epic thrill ride and a symphony of bullets, blades, blood, and bodies and Reeves and the cast have never been better. While most series have run out of steam by the third film, this series has never been more enjoyable and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

4.5 stars out of 5.

 

Second review by Lucas Wunch

“This film is one of the most stunningly beautiful massacres I’ve ever seen in all my life.”

Chances are you’re not just jumping into the John Wick universe with Chapter 3.  So it will come as no surprise to you that this movie is, like the previous ones, a master class in brutal violence and aggressive fight choreography.  However, beneath the surface layer of blood and vengeance, is a film with surprising artistic merit.  And unlike most threequels which clearly demonstrate how a series has run its course, Chapter 3 shows no sign of any slowdown whatsoever.

Keanu Reeves reprises his role as Baba Yaga, the unkillable Boogeyman.  As with the previous two installments, Reeves manages to bring an amazing level of gravitas and professionalism to the character.  He is joined by Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Angejlica Huston and Laurence Fishburne to round out the star-studded cast.  Indeed, you wouldn’t expect such a group of reveared actors to be appearing in a run-and-gun flick like this.  But the truth is that the entire John Wick series is much more than just a set of action movies.

In all of these films, director Chad Stahelski pays homage to another great filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky (even going so far as to name a theater after him in Chapter 3.  Tarkovsky was known for a number of unique elements in his film including long takes, a sparse storyline with heavy action and spiritual or metaphysical themes.  All of these elements are readily available in Parabellum without ever being forced down your throat.  

The settings, for example, are nothing short of stunning.  Theaters, classical hotels and ultramodern offices provide beautifully intricate environments where Stahelski and his DP Dan Laustsen bathe you in beautiful lights, glass and stone as everyone tries to kill everyone else around them.  Ultra modern LCD screen art exists only a few floors above the ancient marble statues of the hotel lobby.  It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the beautiful surroundings that have been created only to have lost count on how many henchmen were viciously executed in the current killing spree.  

Religious and spiritual symbols (also a Tarkovsky signature) are abound as well.  Gigantic stained-glass windows evoke the sentiments of cathedrals while John’s “ticket” to safety is a large ornate set of rosary beads.  In fact, the spiritual themes extend well beyond the material objects of the film.  The third Chapter in the John Wick series emphasizes a choice between destiny and free-will.  Between a life of servitude or the distinct possibility of death (though as a free man).  

The film is unquestionably violent.  Whereas many directors would leverage a series of quick cuts to avoid actually showing the gory results of the many gun and knife fights, Stahelski and Laustsen are never shy about showing you exactly the consequence of such actions.  Camera angles and cuts never favor ambiguity in a fight scene.  When someone is stabbed, shot, beaten and broken you know.  You see it vividly and accurately, though somehow not gratuitously.  Though there are a few acts which will shock and surprise, you’ll never be left feeling that something was unnecessary.  Such is the beauty of the fight choreography as well as the delivery of such violence by Reeves.  His excellence and efficiency is exuded in such a way to make the viewer believe that his murders were performed exactly as they needed to be with nothing excessive.  When asked why he was inspired to film action sequences the way he did (without the shaky camera and excessive cuts), Stahelski replied, “Based on live performance as if you’re watching the sequence happen, which the human eye can see.  We did that because my theory is if you believed Keanu was doing it, you’d be fully immersed that John Wick is a badass.”  The combination of the specific fight choreography along with the gorgeous filming style demonstrates to the viewer how beautiful violence can be.

If you’re already a fan of the first two movies, John Wick 3 will not disappoint.  It has taken all of the great elements of the previous films and continued to add to it.  It takes real skill and passion to be able to make a sequel, threequel and more without rehashing the same stale material.  But John Wick succeeds where so many others have failed.  I can honestly say I’d watch one of these movies every 2 years until Keanu is an old man.  And even then I’m sure they’d find a way to make it work.  Baba Yaga is unkillable.  Just li

 

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