You guessed it, the «Baba yaga» is back! Having now earned his trilogy, John Wick is back for a third incredible outing: Parabellum. After only five years (this is something!), it is pretty surprising to see how much of a cult classic this character has become in the «geek-o-sphere». Like Jason Bourne, James Bond and Ethan Hunt before him, good old John’s fighting skills and class earned him a high-ranking place on the list of the best super-assassins in Hollywood. Returning for a third time on the director’s chair, Chad Stahelski delivers yet another one excellent action-packed film. Alongside him, Keanu Reeves, at 54 years old, is also back as the lead character, who hasn’t lost his mastery of martial arts and athletics in order to deliver masterful stunts. Although John Wick 3 is my least favourite of the saga, mainly for its somewhat flawed scenario, this movie shows great cinematic visuals, well-choreographed hand to hand combat scenes (is that really a surprise?) and a solid new protagonist in Halle Berry’s incarnation of a female John Wick.
Only a few hours following the events that unfolded at the end of John Wick: Chapter 2, John (Keanu Reeves, in great shape again) is on the run, now that he is officially excommunicado from all the Continental Hotels, which means that he cannot find any refuge nor allies anywhere in the assassins’ underworld. One other little problem: he has a bounty on his head, about 14 million times big! For his misconduct in the previous film, the High Table of assassins as well as all the other paid contractors in the city are looking for him to carve him up. Of course, we know good old John, nothing can really stop him, using his skills in ‘gun fu’ (a mix between gun shots and martial arts) to get pass all the bad guys. In order to earn back his good name and undo the excommunicado status inflicted by his good friend Winston (Ian McShane), John will cross the ocean to Casablanca in order to ask for the help of an old ally, a skilled assassin named Sofia (Halle Berry, amazing form and character!). Together, they will try to find the true leaders of this secret underworld, the only ones who have the power to set John free!
On his road, new and mysterious villains are also in play, namely the mysterious Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon from the Billions series) and a super experienced asian warrior in awe of John Wick (Marc Dacascos).
In a nutshell, I can still assure you that John Wick 3 is worth your while, at least if you guys are solid fans of the first two movies. I, a fan since 2014, now find myself praying that its creators are wise and will not try their luck too many times with more sequels. The reason is simple: after three movies, the line differentiating each one is getting blurry. Stahelski’s team may find other exotic places and introduce new villains to face John, but another film of that genre would begin to feel a little too familiar, wouldn’t you think? This is the feeling I had at the end of the screening, although I was very well entertained for more than two hours. Of course, I do not want to sound too harsh, because this film performs well on Rotten Tomatoes and remains a very good flick for all the action junkies out there.
On a positive note, I must admit that the cinematography has gained depth and beauty since the first one, thus making this third part the most beautifully shot of the trilogy. The action scenes in Morocco are wonderful and the scenery of the various places of refuge of John are still and always splendid. The characters are always dressed so well, almost as if Tom Ford acted as costume designer for the production. Personally, I loved the special glass-built room in the New York Continental Hotel, which brings us a visually intense combat scene. While the introduction of the character of the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne) in John Wick: Chapter 2 was particularly memorable, that of the character of Sofia in this new chapter is one of the best elements of all. Halle Berry brings a female version of John Wick to life; an assassin and dog lover who might be as skilled as he is in combat. The duo fighting sequence in the Casablanca market, in the company of the two German shepherds by their side, is simply spectacular! This almost felt like a gaming level in Call of Duty on Xbox or PlayStation. Although slightly less breathtaking than the big chaos scenes of the second movie, the stunts and the fights are yet still unprecedented, compared to everything we see in common action movies. Hard to believe that Reeves and Berry are in their fifties, knowing full well that they are doing almost all of their stunts. Props to these guys!
Let’s discuss a few minor flaws here. There are some story elements that don’t work as well as in the two previous films. I have to admit, the script is not destined to be the central element of this franchise, fans do not like to watch John Wick at work for his conversation abilities. In this case, I think Keanu Reeves has about 30 to 35 lines for the entire runtime … no more than that! He is a man of few words, we knew that, but this is a record for a lead character! This is also the case for the other characters, whose lines are weaker and lack variation. Everyone says a little bit of the same thing constantly, using the same terms and arriving at the same conclusions. Let’s say that the story decreases in complexity, which might not please everyone. There’s more, we definitely feel a constant pretension, as if the creators wanted to boast that John Wick is so cool by adding more and more crazy stunts. On many occasions, characters will meet John before confronting him and will always take the time to flatter him. It is clear that Stahelski adores his creation, we have that reason for all this orgasmic action and these killer one-liners. Oh yeah…and the last line of the film is even a little too laughable for my taste.
All in all, John Wick 3 is a good and fun ride, no questions asked. On the other hand, I think it is now time to ask the question: how many films can they still make before the formula gets dated or overused? In my opinion, not a whole bunch. Keanu Reeves can iron his shirt and put on his jacket again, but it must be done by adding some more creative touches before it’s too late.
On that note, please feast on John f **** cking Wick!
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