The world of John Wick exponentially expands in its third chapter, but the more we learn about this organized criminal underworld, the less interesting it, and our hero, becomes.
I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the original "John Wick" movie. While it featured some good action and it was sort of a fun premise (the whole thing starting because they messed with his dog), I didn’t really think it held together as a fully-realized movie. But in 2017's "John Wick 2," I was completely sucked in. The sequel was the far superior film, building on the campy ultra-violent tone that was set in the original, but expanding the mythos surrounding the secret underground organization of hitmen and their rigid codes of honor. Specifically, it gave us more of the Continental Hotel, the hitman safe haven ran by Winston (Ian McShane) and his trusted "manager," Charon (Lance Reddick). Yes, "John Wick 2" rocked, and it even made me look back a bit more fondly on the first film despite my quibbles.
Sadly, "John Wick 3: Parabellum" ends up being quite a disappointment. On the bright side, it does continue the tradition of there being some amazing - and I do mean amazing - action and fight sequences…like if the Academy created a Best Stunt Work category as they should, "John Wick 3" would soon be known as an Oscar-winning film. But when it comes to the story as a whole, more ends up being much, much less.
Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still on the run, and this chapter wastes no time dropping us right into the mix. He has betrayed the mysterious organization known as the High Table, having killed a dude at the sanctuary known as the Continental Hotel (a huge no-no in this world). The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) shows up to divvy out punishments for those that helped Wick along the way, and another top hitman known as Zero (Mark Dacascos) is tasked with bringing him down. Of course, John Wick has other plans.
But these plans consist of a lot of meaningless hoops for him to jump through, as he somehow ends up in Casablanca Morocco doing ridiculous things that journey beyond camp and into the territory of stupidity. Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as the Bowery King, a dude whose sole purpose seems to be to come up with witty one-liners and then shout them from the rooftop on which he has set up shop. Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston appears as well, as just some more throw-away characters for Wick to interact with.
The main problem is that despite its "coolness factor," the more the curtain is pulled back, the more convoluted and uninteresting it all becomes. The action too, begins to get a bit redundant as the movie treks along, to the point where when we finally see Zero and Wick square off, its anti-climactic at best, tedious at worst. And the campy one-liners that sets this franchise apart are a bit too few and far between.
"John Wick 3" takes itself a bit too serious compared to the first two, and the whole tone just feels a bit uneven. John Wick goes through Hell, but he’s not the only one who feels bruised and battered after this third – and far from final -mind-numbing chapter.
I’m not going to pull any punches here: "John Wick 3: Parabellum" doesn’t quite live up to the hype, and is a let-down when compared to the previous film. Even still, the character is so beloved at this point that movie-goers probably won't care or notice that their favorite action hero deserves better.
Read my review of the original John Wick.
Read my review of John Wick: Chapter 2.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller.
Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston.
Directed by Chad Stahelski ("John Wick: Chapter 2," "John Wick").
"John Wick: Parabellum" opens everywhere on Friday, May 17th, 2019.
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