9.5 / 10
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Halle Berry as Sofia
Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King
Mark Dacascos as Zero
Asia Kate Dillon as the Adjudicator
Lance Reddick as Charon
Anjelica Huston as the Director
Ian McShane as Winston
Saïd Taghmaoui as the Elder
Jason Mantzoukas as Tick Tock Man
Robin Lord Taylor as the Administrator
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Directed by Chad Stahleski
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Review:
After years of storied action projects and a mixed bag of box office hits and failures, Keanu Reeves finally returned to the mainstream spotlight when he signed on to star in the 2014 revenge pic John Wick. Following a retired hitman coming back to avenge the murder of his dog and despite a concept seemingly built for one film; however, screenwriter Derek Kolstad found a way to expand the unique and compelling world of the titular character into not just one, but two equally thrilling and fascinating sequels with the latest installment, Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Picking up right where the sequel left off with John on the run from every hitman in New York City after being declared excommunicado, the third chapter takes audiences on a trip with the legendary hitman across the globe as he seeks a way to escape every hired gun coming for him and for a chance to return to a peaceful life of retirement. In his travels, John enlists the help of Halle Berry’s Sofia, a former close friend and fellow assassin, and the fan-favorite Winston played once again by Deadwood‘s Ian McShane, plus his trusty associate Charon played by Fringe alum Lance Reddick.
Developing a sequel of any genre is already a major challenge as finding an appropriate way to continue the story in a fresh way is no easy task, but Reeves, Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski have found the secret to delivering one of the most exhilarating franchises in film history. The series remains consistently intelligent and fascinating in the writing and ability to deliver another story that works in exploring the underground hitman world briefly touched upon in Chapter 2, including the introduction of other High Table members and the hierarchy system of the assassin network. Unlike other action sequels where the stories become more predictable as the franchise goes on, the plot becomes more and more unpredictable as the film continues, delivering a few solid twists and finding a way to keep audiences on their toes between the many action scenes across the 131-minute runtime.
In addition to the compelling story, Parabellum keeps the ball rolling from the previous two installments in its action scenes by upping the ante in every way imaginable, including a thrilling motorcycle sequence and a simultaneously hilarious and jaw-dropping sequence involving a horse. When John is on foot, however, he finds a way to every environment he’s in to his tactical advantage. A library full of heavy vintage novels? An antique shop in Chinatown chock full of sharp objects? Weapons for Wick, and they result in one of the best choreographed and intense fight sequences of the whole film.
While Reeves continues to deliver one of the best performances of his career throughout the film, the supporting characters all turn in strong performances. Audiences get to see a new and more vulnerable side to McShane’s Winston as he struggles with collaborating with the High Table to bring Wick in and holding on to The Continental, plus finding a way to help his longtime friend survive. Mark Dacascos, best known for his supporting roles in the CBS revival of police procedural Hawaii Five-0 and the 2003 action pic Cradle 2 the Grave, proves to be a menacing and entertaining antagonist to watch. His fight skills are powerful and thrilling but his fanboy nature over John brings plenty of lighter moments throughout the project.
Acting as the overseer for the High Table and the secondary antagonist for the titular protagonist, Billions star Asia Kate Dillon is absolutely dark and chilling, displaying loads of charisma as they attempt to clean up Wick’s mess from the second installment and trying to exert their control over the much wiser Winston. Halle Berry, no stranger to the action franchise herself, is not in it nearly as much as she should be, eating up every bit of scenery she and her loyal German Shepherds are in.
The film’s only real downfall is that while the intensity of the action scenes proves to be exhilarating, a few of them do tend to go on a minute or two longer than are truly necessary, with the peak of the tension occurring before the end of a few of its key sequences. This, however, is not a major flaw, because these sequences still remain incredibly well-choreographed and stylishly directed, relieving any audience concerns that the 54-year-old star may be getting too old to perform his own stunts.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is the action threequel every writer/director of the genre strives to make, proving to be an incredible expansion of its intriguing world and action-packed adventure and keeping the trilogy consistently creative and exhilarating and one of the best in cinematic history.