Para bellum – prepare for war (Latin – English). John Wick is back for more than two hours of hardcore violence with a hint of comedy spiced with exhilaratingly exhausting chases all over the globe. Chad Stahelski‘s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is an epic pandemonium, made to satisfy fans of this franchise, but also to surprise the non-believers with his superbly choreographed fight sequences.
This chapter starts where the last film ended. Wick (Keanu Reeves) is running out of time and in less than an hour he will be excommunicated from the global community of assassins and can’t use any of their hideouts or facilities anymore. Every assassin in New York will be hunting him down – since the price on his head is a staggering $14 million.
If you really think assassins have the patience to wait until the High Table (the global organisation of assassins) tells you the hunt has begun, you’re in for a surprise. There’s killers everywhere and Wick bumps into one very tall man early on in a library, for some close-up combat with books. It doesn’t take long before the next battle starts in an antique store where cabinets get shattered to start a lethal knife throwing sequence with deadly consequences.
Our man knows he can’t keep battling an entire city of assassins forever, he goes looking for a way out and this is where we get to know a bit more about John himself. Anjelica Huston plays a cold-blooded woman who knows John from a previous life. After handing her a talisman he once earned for doing something terrible, he’s here to ask for a favour – sneak him out of the US. They owe him that one thing, and Wick is off to Morocco to get rid of his death sentence.
Once arrived in North Africa, we get another look at Wick’s lost past we know so little about. He has another marker/medallion in his pocket, to collect another favour. This one is destined for Sofia (Halle Berry, reminding us how bad ass she still is), whose daughter he rescued from an unspecified danger long ago. She has a pair of German shepherds who steal the show as bad guy’s genitals butchers. The cinematography here is breathtaking, especially when we get to the Sahara and see Wick climbing the dunes in his suit. It’s an action packed act that makes you ready for what you’re about to witness back in New York City.
A representative of the High Table has already arrived in the city and is here to punish those who helped Wick break the rules in the last film. The “Adjudicator” (Asia Kate Dillon) gives both the king of the Bowery’s bums (Laurence Fishburne) and director of assassins’ hotel The Continental, Winston (Ian McShane), seven days to put their affairs in order before they’re removed from their roles. Whatever that may mean. While Wick was on his way back, the Adjudicator visited some sidewalk sushi bar and hired the chef/hitman to lead a crew of assassins that will make an end to John Wick’s legacy once and for all.
Zero (Mark Dacascos) and his crew, are fans of the legendary Wick. While they fangirl in between throwing him through glass walls, they’re still here to finish him off. This final showdown happens in Winston’s all-glass administrative offices, where nothing is what it seems. Playing with cold glass walls and neon lights has never been more impressive and fun. Even when everything gets smashed to smithereens.
With every chapter, this franchise gets bolder and more impressive. This bares the question if they can keep this level of excitement going like other successful franchises, or if this is Reeves’ magnum opus as Wick?! I’d say “dulce periculum” and keep them coming. Let his legacy live on!
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is out in Australian cinemas today.
Review by Seth Eelen