Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick and Anjelica Huston
One of cinema’s most stylish assassins returns for what could be his final outing in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, a direct continuation from John Wick: Chapter 2. With a price on his head and a target on his back, John must try to stay one step ahead of his former employers, The High Table, after he broke their rules of engagement and killed a man on company grounds.
Now, a whole host of hitmen and women are seeking the $14 million bounty for taking him down. As John struggles to escape New York, what follows is relentless, brutal and unflinching, but also a little tiresome. Cue set piece, set piece, dialogue scene for everyone to catch their breath (audience included), set piece, set piece followed by, yep, another set piece.
It’s worth noting that whilst the previous films kept an air of discretion to the blood lust, with characters attempting to hide their deeds from the public, this is completely in your face with corpses piling up everywhere from Grand Central Station to the New York Public Library. But, hey, this is a John Wick film! Go with it and the ride should be worth it.
Choreographed to bloody perfection, the action sequences are frenetic and fabulously frivolous, including a painful reminder of why you should never stand behind a horse, but so frequent and repetitive that battle fatigue sets in. As impressive as they are, there’re only so many double-taps and slicing and dicing one can take before it becomes monotonous and I can see why this John might get on your wick.
Embracing the preposterousness and effortlessly portraying John’s weariness, yet somehow finding the energy to kill several people one after the other, is Keanu Reeves, and he’s never been cooler. Or wetter. The weather, and violence, is torrential from director Chad Stahelski, once again at the helm having directed the previous two films, and he brings back stars Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne (both ham it up spectacularly) and Lance Reddick whilst Anjelica Huston and an underused Halle Berry, channelling her inner Jinx from Die Another Day, join the fun.
Additional cast members include a menacing Mark Dacascos as, arguably, the greatest threat to John’s survival and Asia Kate Dillon brings elegance and mystique as the no-nonsense Adjudicator sent by The High Table to oversee the hunt for Mr Wick. All impress, but Jerome Flynn as Berrada, a high-ranking member of The Company, has an accent as questionable as his casting.
If you can accept Parabellum for what it is then you’ll have a blast. Stylish, sharp and inventive it’s another bombastic bonanza of bullets and blood, but its wick definitely needed to be trimmed.
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Film critic. YouTube channel www.youtube.com/benpeytonreviews
Former actor. Band of Brothers, Emmerdale, Holby City and a regular (PC Ben Hayward) in The Bill.
Voiceover artist with Rhubarb Voices.