"John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" Review

Updated on May 28, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University


John Wick: Chapter 3 is a hard "R" rated action flick that serves up all the bloody violence that is expected from these movies in monumental doses. There are large action set-pieces peppered throughout the film, almost frame for frame, and the body count increases ad infinitum. I don't know that I have ever seen a movie with this much on-screen carnage. In other words, the kills never happen out of the view of the camera, and the audience gets to see the physical aspects of every death no matter how gruesome or grisly. For what this movie is marketed as, it certainly doesn't disappoint, and the movie had some of the most fluidly choreographed and crisply designed fight scenes that I have ever seen.

I'll be honest. I have not seen the first two John Wick movies. I know that there are story elements and references that I won't fully understand, and the third chapter picks up right where the second one leaves off. However, I did not have a difficult time following the plot, and the story was relatively easy to make sense of. I thought I would add that note for any other fledgling to the franchise who thinks they need a grasp on the first two films to watch this one. It might be helpful, but it is certainly not necessary. Also, these movies are not known for an intelligibly told story, and coming in without experiencing the previous films should not be too much of a handicap. The John Wick films are known for their hyper-violent, blood-soaked fight scenes, and this third chapter certainly offers a lot of that.

I can't dock the movie too much for the story being underdeveloped, because I haven't seen the previous films. However, I do feel like plot was fairly threadbare, and every downbeat was simply a segue into the next fight scene. There were almost no stakes in it for me. Sure, I wanted John Wick to hunt, kill and destroy all the mercenaries that were after him, but not because I genuinely cared what happened to him. I enjoyed seeing him fall, brush himself off, and keep scuffling, because I was so enthralled by him beating up every baddie he came in contact with.

I thought all of the acting was terrific, and this is certainly an apt role for Keanu Reeves to play considering his frigid acting style. Ian McShane was great as the owner of The Continental. Halle Berry went ballistic on people in this film, and the scene with her and the two dogs mowing people down might have possibly been my favorite one. It is about time she landed a role that showcased her abilities as an action star. One of the standout performances for me is Asia Kate Dillon as The Adjudicator. They (Asia is non-binary) have a sort of fierceness in their voice and expression that really worked here.

I have a couple peeves with the ending of this film though. Because the fight scenes are this film's bread and butter, it cannot go without saying. There is one scene in particular where some of the assassins are performing some Taekwondo kicks on John Wick, and he is jerked back against some glass panels, shattering them to pieces. The response time is slightly off on his recoil, so after he gets struck, his impact against the glass is delayed.

Also, there are moments in the final fight scene in which John Wick is taking on an entire army of tactically trained killers (similar to The Crazy 88's scene in Kill Bill), and some of the assassins almost have to wait in line to take a stab at John Wick. Often, they either took an unnecessary amount of time recovering from a punch to stall while the others fought, or they would just loaf around in the background. I found it hard to believe that trained assassins would not try to surround John Wick when he is most vulnerable and basically have the jump on the guy. It seemed like a mistake in the choreography.

Overall, I thought the film was a thrill ride from beginning to end, and it had some of the most stylistic fight sequences that I have ever seen. Because I thought it lacked some in narrative development, I am not comfortable giving it a higher score. However, I think this is a must-see for any fan of heart-pounding action, particularly for those who are part of the cult audience for Keanu Reeves.

Rating: 7/10

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    © 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson


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