Parabellum. Translated from Latin as “prepare for war”- as the notion is uttered by Ian McShane’s Winston, it feels as though there’s no better way to describe John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The franchise has been rapidly increasing in stakes, and as Keanu Reeves’ Baba Yaga comes to face off against the high table and the assassins of the world, Parabellum is made to feel much more chaotic than its counterparts. Where John Wick started as a tale of vengeance and redemption, this new adventure seeks to display the power of the assassins circuit throughout New York (and Casablanca- but we’ll come to that) alongside the hindering of The Continental and The High Table.
“THE FILM IS IMPECCABLY CHOREOGRAPHED, MASTERFULLY SHOT AND SCORED DESPITE THE VILLAIN OF THE PIECE FEELING UNDESERVED”.
John Wick: Chapter 3 is easily the most batshit crazy of the trilogy thus far. No spoilers here, but the takedowns littered through the first 20 minutes are brutal, and serve as a testament to director Chad Stahelski who made a point of not asking what they could do with the film, rather than questioning what they couldn’t. The trailer shot of John galloping down the streets of New York on horseback busting up goons is good enough evidence of this. Keanu Reeves is impossibly up to all of his stunts, and his sheer talent in this field is mesmerising. Every gunshot and punch is felt, and the impact never lets up. The action throughout the film is at its most visceral as John is in New York, and the film takes a turn as he flees to Casablanca.
The plot takes itself to weird places when John travels to the Morocco to meet with old companion Sofia for transit. The bright blues and pinks of New York are replaced by the orange of the desert, and the film missed a trick in shooting the city’s action scenes at night. The visuals take a noticeable dip in these moments, and they begin to fade into the background when it comes to memorable moments dotted throughout the film. Spiritualism comes into the film somewhat while in Morocco, and it feels pretty disconnected from the rest of the brooding and LED-driven action, yet stands as a testament to Wick’s dedication and remains entertaining.
The final battle of the film is impeccably choreographed, masterfully shot and scored despite the villain of the piece feeling undeserved. He serves as a figurehead representing the entirety of the New York assassin’s circuit, but he’s not introduced far before the climax, leaving no emotional ties to him in the same way as the original film does. While the first outing tells a more concise story and a satisfying tale of vengeance, Parabellum serves up unadulterated carnage, and pure nutty action. The stakes of the franchise are only getting bigger, which naturally will make the climaxes hard to summarise with a single baddie.
The chaotic extravagance as displayed in John Wick’s second chapter (and developed in its first) has become an amalgam of gorgeous visuals and sheer mayhem, only emphasised by the impossible physical feats performed by Keanu Reeves. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is a great follow-up to the story we’ve seen so far, and while the film suffers from some minor issues due to its impossible scale, it’s still a fantastic joy-ride of broken bones regardless. This franchise is only going to keep increasing its scale, so now is exactly the time to be tuning into it.
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The natural progression from Chapter 2- nuttier, bloodier and beautifully constructed.