Parabellum means to “prepare for war”.
I am very happy to report, for those reading this review, that the John Wick series of movies isn’t ruined with Chapter 3. It was a legitimate concern with the addition of at least one big name brought in to a series that initially went under the radar.
John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum picks up right where the last one ended; with Wick on the run and the hour he was given as a head start is running out. Naturally, the man who had his vehicle stolen and his puppy killed has every underworld villain after him and for the first twenty minutes of screen time mayhem ensues (sort of) as Wick searches for a safe haven (sort of), if only for a brief moment. He then uses every available resource at his disposal, mainly his surroundings, to get the job done.
A huge reason for the success of the first two Wick movies was that the fight scenes were believable, with no wasted motion involved. This time around the fighting seems clunky and slow with more hand to hand combat than before. However, there are more than a few times that the moviegoer gets to see up-close the damage done and provides a few cringe worthy moments, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Hollywood for a long time. The baddest dude this side of the screen also rides a horse through the city and employs the use of a motorcycle as his vehicle of choice for a thrilling chase scene. The CG during these scenes aren’t perfect so some of the impact (literally) is taken away but you get the point.
JWC3P is also sort of an origin story offering more insight into the legend than the previous movies (shocking spoiler alert #1: John Wick isn’t his real name). The soundtrack, neon cinematography, and cityscape remain the same as before, as well as the stories’ main set of characters which help viewers who have been along for the ride since the beginning dig in.
What did change is the addition of a number of campy samurai-like characters (for comic relief, I assume) and more dialogue than is necessary from Keanu Reeves. The no nonsense mindset that drove the first two movies in the series is gone and it signals the beginning of a new direction while doing nothing to push the JWC3P narrative forward.
With all of this taken into account JWC3P is (my opinion) better than the second movie but the first is still the best. The first ending (shocking spoiler alert #2: There are essentially two endings in JWC3P) will have you wondering ‘why?’ and the final ending will induce that same exact reaction. But this review would be incomplete without acknowledging Keanu Reeves as one of cinemas’ all time great actors who has continually found himself (by no mistake, I’m sure) in some of the most pivotal films in history. Even with his (so-called) limited range you can’t argue with The Matrix, Point Break, Devil’s Advocate, Speed, Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Replacements, and the list goes on. And that list now includes the John Wick tales.
It is refreshing to see an original idea (not common in Hollywood these days) succeed and become more than just an action/suspense movie or cult classic but rather an event and it’s also good to see the continued success of Reeves (of whom I’ve heard has endured some real tragedy and even with his thriving career firmly in place with JWC3P remains a humble individual).
The bottom line is, sit back (if you can!) and enjoy the movie. It’s good.