Spoilers might be armed and dangerous.
Perhaps I’ve been blogging about way too many movies and tv shows that are “acquired tastes” and “not necessarily your cup of tea” but I found myself a bit at a loss this weekend. So, although I had a few ideas I found myself in the need of a cleanser. This is my expression for a genre movie where I can just have a good time. The movie doesn’t have to be dumb, actually it does have to be smartly made, but it must be a movie that knows itself and takes the audience for a ride. Car chases are must. Fights must include an assortment of melee weapons.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum knows exactly what kind of movie it is and what its audience wants from it. Chad Stahelski directs the third instalment of this franchise, which feels fresh anew. There’s something more stylish and at the same time more brutal this time around. Each scenario flows naturally into the next. You’re following the story from one location to the next happening almost organically. Mind you, I said organically, not realistically.
That is because there’s always been an element of fantasy in John Wick, where the assassins are all part of this criminal organization known as the High Table that spreads its tentacles around the world. There’s a lot of world building involved here as criminals even have consecrated entities such as The Continental, which is a lot more than a hotel. There’s also taxi drivers, seemingly homeless people, sushi chefs, etc. Think about the wizards from Harry Potter and you’ll have a clue how deep the rabbit hole goes.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still the same person. I believe our perception of him has grown and perhaps a couple of layers have been exposed since the first time we met him but this is still the same retired hitman that once came back to exact vengeance and now must deal with the entire world of murderers and assassins out to get him. If there is honour among thieves, there’s even more so when dealing with hired killers in his world.
After the second chapter, the super-assassin is excommunicado with a contract put on his head by Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of The Continental in New York. Nevertheless, John uses his last coin to send his dog to The Continental’s concierge Charon (Lance Reddick) for safeguarding. It’s a race then to get out of New York and to the distant city of Casablanca in Morocco to seek aid from The Continental over there, which is run by Sofia (Halle Berry).
Meanwhile Winston receives a visit from a High Table representative called the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon). She’s visiting everyone that interacted with John in the past including the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne) and most recently The Director (Anjelica Huston). This little interactions give us a glimpse on John’s past, his former identity and background (Romani?), and even the fact that she had a daughter with Sofia (I said spoilers, people). They also tie up the action scenes together rather nicely.
John Wick is most often compared to Jason Bourne, not in background but in execution. Their primary motivator to keep people interested has always been action. That being said, John Wick’s world is primarily fantastic. Underground doctors fear the High Table’s wrath more than they do a bullet. Assassins stop in the middle of the fight to express their admiration and trust is re-established by killing old friends. It’s less realistic that the glamorous world of spies in James Bond, but definitely a lot of fun.
Highly recommended for action enthusiasts. This movie does amp the action to a hundred from the beginning and just leaves it there. The storyline never stops to explain why and how John Wick knows these new characters but lets us figure it out on our own, which is important but not crucial to the story. The movie knows we can figure it out while the guns are blazing and John is ready to take the next wave of killers thrown at him.
That will do for now.