We spent the last three or four months trying to figure out what the ‘Parabellum’ meant in the title for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum when all we had to do was type it into Google translate. Go figure.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is the continuation of the popular action franchise that we’ve all come to know and love since the first John Wick was released back in 2014.
Directed by Chad Stahelski — one of the two original directors for John Wick, as David Leitch went off to make Atomic Blonde (bad), Deadpool 2 (good) and Hobbs & Shaw (looks like a blast) — and written by four different people (oh no), John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum picks up right where John Wick: Chapter 2 left off as Keanu Reeves is now on the run in New York City.
Probably should mention that this review will NOT contain any spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, but will reveal some details about the first John Wick movies — both of which you definitely should have seen at this point, as you’re seriously missing out if you haven’t.
After killing the assassin inside the Continental Hotel, John (Reeves) has been given a one-hour head start before every murderer, henchman and killer starts knocking at his door to collect the $14 million bounty that’s been put on his head.
Of course, in the world of John Wick, at least 50% of the world is an assassin and the other 50% doesn’t blink when they run into one on the street (seriously, there’s a scene in John Wick 3 where someone gets murdered in front of a bunch of children and literally nobody bats an eye), but that’s just something they’re asking us to accept, at this point.
Being excommunicado, John has no access to all of the resources previously available to him, either. That means that he can’t go asking for help from the Continental’s manager, Winston (Hellboy’s Ian McShane), or concierge, Charon (American Horror Story’s Lance Reddick), nor can he go request more bullets from the lord of the homeless, Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne).
This really has to be one of the weirdest roles that Fishburne has taken on in some time, doesn’t it?
Yet, even when placed in an empty room, John could probably come up with thirty different ways to kill someone within five seconds, if he has to.
The high table — which is essentially the organization that sets up Continentals across the world and creates all the rules for assassins to follow — knows this. They also know that if John manages to survive the wave of common-folk killers, he’s likely going to come after them.
So, in order to make sure he doesn’t survive his excommunicado, they send an adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to gather a team of what are essentially John Wick fanboys who have been training their entire lives to fight with against the legendary executioner, led by a man named Zero (Mark Dacascos).
John, however, has friends of his own. Now having to commit to the life he once swore he’d leave behind, he’s now prepared to travel across the globe to put an end to all of this.
And there are dogs!! More than one dog!!! Dogs who fight!!! And do other dog things!!!! They’re great!!!!! You should go see John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum just because of the dogs!!!!!!
In all seriousness, there was a lot of hype built up around John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. While not everyone loves John Wick: Chapter 2 (I still think it’s pretty great), this franchise is known for the insane, almost comic-book level of action that these movies contain.
In that regard, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum delivers. Despite the fact that John has ascended to God status and can seemingly never be hurt or killed regardless of what happens to him (even more so than Neo in The Matrix), you’d be hard-pressed to find action scenes with better cinematography than this.
And for the first act of the movie, it’s all nearly perfect. We don’t waste a second filling in anyone who might have forgotten what happened in John Wick: Chapter 2, but rather jump right into this world and these characters. Within the first twenty minutes, we see John kill people in a library, an antique store, a horse stable and, eventually, a ballerina school, and it’s all a beautifully bloody (more so than the first two movies, even) sight to behold.
It’s once that first act is over and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum has to actually start telling a story that I found myself somewhat disappointed with this film.
Now, the key word there is disappointed — I didn’t hate this thing and I’m not angry at it or anything like that. Rather, my expectations were set to a certain level because of the first two movies, and this one didn’t quite deliver.
The problem is that John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum really struggles to find any significant story that’s worth telling. We can watch Keanu Reeves do his gun-fu up until a point, sure, but that becomes kind of stale after a while when there are no stakes or reason for him doing so.
They attempt to go further into this world of assassins, sure, and that’s all well and fine in certain points. There is, however, a difference between exploring a world (as the first John Wick does) and explaining one — and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum seems more interested in the latter than the former.
Reeves, McShane and Reddick have all tapped into exactly what these roles require them to do and are clearly having fun making these movies, and Halle Berry is a kick-ass addition who fits in well, too. There are other roles and characters, though, that feel like they come from completely different movies — Fishburne is literally just walking around yelling ‘Motherf**ker this’ and ‘Motherf**ker that’ for no good reason, while Dacascos character ranges from being mildly goofy to annoyingly over-the-top.
Of course, we kind of expect over-the-top when it comes to John Wick, right? We saw him kill a dude with a pencil in the second movie and, in this one, he lays a dude to waste with a library book. It’s true, but there’s a very thin line these movies have to walk before it just becomes too much. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum has it’s moments, yes, but it winds up falling off that line multiple times. In the end, this feels very much like an Expendables 3 or The Fate of the Furious in that it’s all just one giant excuse to perform a bunch of stunts or action scenes rather than tell any kind of story.
Again, the stunts in a John Wick movie are second to none, but I still left the theater wanting more.
Watch the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' - 1,001 ways to kill a henchman [REVIEW]6