JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Written by: Derek Kolstad
Based on: Characters by Derek Kolstad
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”
When I first accepted the invitation to go to a screening of John Wick 3, my first thought was “oh fuck yeah, I wanna see Keanu Reeves completely fucking destroy everyone.” First, it was a distraction from finishing all these Tribeca reviews (the rest will be rolling out soon, I promise). Second, I went into the film not knowing what the other two films were. I was fresh to all things that were John Wick.
John Wick 3 smashed all expectations that I had. John Wick 3 is a mix of madness and mayhem with redemption, betrayal, and character development in so many little ways that put other films to shame.
After the events of the first film, with Wick losing his wife and dog, he’s back as a good ol’ hitman. John Wick 3 takes place not long after John Wick 2, maybe even a couple of hours after. We find John (Keanu Reeves) on the run throughout Manhattan as he becomes excommunicado with an enormous bounty on his head (14 mil to be exact). John tries to make good and get the bounty off in any way before the clock runs out. However, there’s a new antagonist that comes into play in the form of the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) of the High Table. They come for everyone and anyone who has helped John in the past and allow them penance for their actions (to be of service) or death.
There’s nothing I like more than an action movie that will keep me on the edge of my seat. This is coming from a person who admittingly is not the biggest fan of action movies. I didn’t know if John Wick would have the punch it would take to make me a fan. To my surprise, it had that and so much more. It had the action that I crave (if I wanted to watch an action movie). That high-octane excitement mixed with explicit violence and nailed-down character development. It even had a little bit for everyone in terms of the storytelling. John Wick contains the story of loss, betrayal, loyalty, religion (in a way), and much more. It has a lot for everyone.
Chad Stahelski captured that in a way that makes this film what he is. He knows what the audience has come for, and he’s not afraid to give it to you. He directs this like a ballet, moving through the motions of violence and character in and out and weaving you through so much that’s happening with ease. This wouldn’t be the same if Michael Bay directed this. Stahelski has a sharp eye to nail down just what good specific moments are and expands them.
This would be nothing, though, without Derek Kolstad writing the script. Kolstad and Stahelski working from the first movie to this one is the right kind of partnership that works on such solid ground. They understand what makes this character, what motivates this character, what drives him, and they put that on display. It’s honestly fascinating seeing how much this guy has to go through in a span of this (and the other) movies, but he pushes.
I can talk about this forever, but Kolstad writes this in such an incredible character ensemble movie. He brings one guy in touch with so many people, and he may have changed their lives for better or worse. Some moments weren’t always necessary, and some characters leave as fast as they came, but that’s almost the beauty of this movie. John Wick keeps going so you do too. Kolstad never lingers he keeps John Wick shooting.
Speaking of the John, Keanu Reeves continues to know what he’s about. He’s becoming more and more of an icon now with a resurgence in his career that’s equal to Winona Ryder. Keanu’s taking on roles that very well suit who he is and embracing that icon status while being the nicest dude on the planet. In John Wick 3, he continues his quest to keep his memories alive and avenge those who have done him wrong. He’s also hilarious and soft-spoken with a raspy voice that will lull you to sleep and a trigger finger that’s as sharp as his mind.
Another character who instantly pulled me in was Asia Kate Dillon as The Adjuster. I’ve only known them from Billions, so seeing them in a full role like this was so incredibly exciting! From the first time they stepped on the screen, they had my full attention. The cold-yet-calculated way about The Adjuster was so perfect and made you want to root for them even though they were this gigantic asshole. The fashions of this character also fucking SLAYED to pieces. I’m a low-key fashion junkie. Everyone in this movie, including Halle Berry, had their own sense of identity within the fashion they wore. The Adjuster’s style was something that made their character stand out by far.
The rest of the cast is just as flawless as both Keanu and Asia are. Halle Berry comes in like lightning and leaves in a flash. You want more of her, but you’re not afraid of her to go. Berry’s role is something that she should be doing more often. She’s spectacular in this performance and does a damn good job at keeping your eyes glued to where she shoots. Lance Reddick and Ian McShane are the dynamic duos that no one needs in their life. They play off each other so well that it’s almost scary. Anjelica Huston is incredible as always. Lastly, Mark Dacascos as the secondary antagonist was almost TOO good. He has so many frightening brilliant moments that give you a duel of WHO he is.
John Wick 3: Parabellum is such a gorgeous character-driven film with so much to say and says it all with the bullet of a gun. It’s fast-paced, bloody, brilliant, and wild, but that’s what we want in John Wick movies. It’s a lineup of moments that audiences will never forget, and I can’t wait to see the next one.