There was a point in John Wick 3 that I found myself questioning my own sanity. Not because I would watch a film with such violence. But rather, that such violence made me cackle with such glee, as if every kill was a payoff of some sort. Then again, that is what John Wick is as a franchise, it’s proud to be an over-the-top action film that also delivers deep lore. And as this John Wick 3 – Parabellum review will show you, that’s what it does once more, and it’s my favorite for the series because of how deep it goes into both.
To quickly recap, the end of John Wick 2 had John killing a member of the High Table (basically the world of assassins top brass) in the Continental Hotel…which was forbidden. Now, John is excommunicado, and the High Table has a $14 million dollar bounty on his head…which is open for anyone to collect on. So John has to try and survive and find a way to make it stop. Or else.
I love how close to the previous movies the next installments always pick up after. In this case, it’s literally minutes into his one-hour “buffer” before the hounds are released. And once the hour is up, the fight almost literally starts, and barely ever stops.
This is by far the most action-packed John Wick movie. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of talking scenes, and world-building scenes, and dramatic non-violent encounters. But, for everyone one of those, there are plenty of action scenes that go even longer than those talking scenes. And if you’re fearing that the (amazing) trailers spoiled all the action scenes, it’s not even close. There are some that were only very lightly teased, and others that weren’t shown at all. Including one that happens mere minutes into the movie itself.
You might think you know what to expect in regards to the brutality that the John Wick franchise brings. But trust this review when I say that you ain’t seen nothing yet. You’ll be shocked (or laugh, either or really) at how creativity these fights get, and how brutal they can be. They’re vicious, versatile, and no two fights are the same.
No, really. There are fights on horses, motorcycles, in the streets, in a bazaar, in open spaces, in closed spaces, in a freaking library, and more! They use guns (both old and new), swords, knives, special blades, belts, books, and on and on! You can’t help but wonder sometimes what they’ll pull out next. And the “showstoppper” is as brutal and gory and insane as you’d expect. In many ways, it’s kind of like the Battle of Winterfell from the current Game of Thrones season. The directors and writers knew that there would be a lot of action in this movie, so to make sure it wasn’t stale, they made it as diverse and creative as it could be, and it worked. Seriously, this is the new gold-standard for action movies. And many genres (including superhero films and TV shows) could learn a thing or ten from John Wick 3.
But, of course, action isn’t enough, there needs to be a story, a backbone to it all, and that is put on full display in a great way here.
Because while Parabellum (which means “Prepare For War) is an appropriate subtitle for this film, John Wick 3 could’ve also been called “Consequences.” Because the actions of John in ending of the last film have rippled out throughout the assassins world. Winston is put on notice, as is the Bowery King, and anyone else who helps John Wick. All of which is dulled out via the “Adjudicator,” another member of the High Table who acts as a judge and jury of sorts for various actions.
This is but one piece of lore that is added to the John Wick universe, and Parabellum has many more that will shock you.
Including the arrival of Halle Berry’s Sophia, an acquaintance of John’s who is forced to help him, as well as the “hitmen” for the Adjudicator in the form of Zero and his “children.” All of these characters, including old favorites like Charon the Concierge and Winston, and yes, the dog, add life into the film while the action is taking a break. And let me tell you, not only does the ending of John Wick 3 perfectly set up John Wick 4, it’s one of the best twists I’ve seen in some time.
Before I talk about the few downpoints, I do want to give a special shoutout to Keanu Reeves. If you didn’t hear, he did his own action scenes for this movie. Not stunts, action scenes, there’s a difference. So there are no “stunt doubles” for Reeves outside of maybe a few scenes, so he’s doing ALL the work here. And he sells it big. But he also sells his struggle and emotional turmoil. We finally learn the backstory of John in this movie, and he makes you feel it as he returns “home” to try and get free. It’s a great performance, which isn’t what you would expect from an action-heavy movie like this.
There’s honestly not too much to criticize here outside of a few kills which felt unnecessarily gory, as well as some overacting by Zero, and not enough Halle Berry (seriously, she’s a treasure, and deserves her own spinoff).
But, if this review tells you anything, it should be this: GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It’s awesome and full of stunning set pieces and action scenes. Prepare for war, and go see John Wick 3!
John Wick 3 Parabellum Review
John Wick 3 – Parabellum is a masterpiece of action, and will draw you even more into this world of assassination. You’re in for a wild ride, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.