If you’re on the fence about this movie and you’re thinking, “How are they ever going to top the first two”? You’ll get your answer within the first ten minutes of watching John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The movie starts out right where we left off from the previous film as we follow the Baba Yaga in the remaining few minutes before he is listed “Excommunicado” by the High Table organization. An outrageously high bounty is sent out to the seemingly endless number of assassins round the world and John has to fight his way through without any help from anyone.Keanu Reeves is electrifying in his performance returning as the title character and a new character, Sofia, played by Halle Berry, is equally as entertaining.
The film delves deeper into the organization of the High Table and we learn just how much power they posses. I appreciate the fact that this movie is supported by a fairly decent plot and doesn’t trade story for non stop gun-fu (which there is more than enough of). I’m invested in the characters and I understand all of the motivations to a certain extent. There is a choice John has to make towards the end of the film that doesn’t particularly make a whole lot of sense to me in regard to everything that happens before it, but I can understand this decision in reference to his character. This is not a perfect film by any means but god damn did I have the best time watching it.
The battle choreography in this movie is some of if not the best I’ve ever seen. The detail that goes into every single fight scene is what makes this entire series what it is today. What makes it so great is that they relied on real people and real fights to drive the action and not CGI or green screens. I’m sure a few scenes where he’s battling on horse back or motorcycle, some of this needed to be used but for the most part all of the fights and action sequences were filmed in their respective locations. A lot of action movies these days rely on scene cuts during editing to carry fight sequences but this film does a great job of establishing long takes and letting the choreography carry the scene rather than different camera angles, while still making it feel real and engaging. There are some fight scenes where Keanu and Halle are fighting together along side these two Belgian Malinois dogs that respond to every command Halle gives them and it’s astounding how they were able to pull it off. I’ve read that Halle spent about 3 hours a day for months training with the dogs so that they responded to her every command. Just to reiterate what I said before, Halle Berry is wonderful in this role and you can tell she had to go through rigorous training to perform all of the stunts and fights in this movie. Not only is she great in the action sequences, she also gives a stunning performance during the dialogue scenes and is able to bring heart and soul to this character.
It would be a disservice if I went through this review and didn’t mention the set design and art direction for this film. The meticulous input that went into all the costumes, sets, lighting and props was absolutely stunning. It’s refreshing to know that a high octane action movie like this can still take the time to make it beautiful. Kudos to the director Chad Stahelski for making this series as successful as it is and making sure to be more meticulous than the last, and somehow still finding a way to up the ante.