'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' Review

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I doubt Keanu Reeves could’ve guessed that he would be part of another blockbuster film trilogy following “The Matrix”. But 2014’s “John Wick” quickly became a cult hit, spawning the 2017 sequel, “Chapter 2”. And now we get “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”. And like a good dog, it’s loyal to the series and its fans.

“Parabellum” picks up RIGHT where “Chapter 2” left off. John Wick is on the run. Everyone is out to kill him and collect the $14-million bounty. Wick broke the rules by murdering a fellow assassin inside the safe haven of NYC’s Continental hotel. Continental manager Winston (Ian McShane) has given Wick a one-hour head start to run for his life.

With each new film The John Wick Universe continues to expand, with new characters (more of Wick’s former colleagues) assisting him in his effort to stay alive. Here, they’re played by Anjelica Huston and Halle Berry. Aside from Berry taking part in a lively shoot-em-up sequence with Reeves in Morocco, she and Huston really don’t add much to this and actually drag down the tempo.

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves

What made people initially take notice of the original “John Wick” was its relentless, violent, incredibly well-choreographed action scenes. “Parabellum” doesn’t underwhelm in this department, with plenty of slicing, dicing, shooting, stabbing and sword fighting play. Motorcycles and horses (yes, horses) take over for cars this time as Wick’s modes of transportation, providing for some creative chase sequences.

Reeves is, once again, at the top of his game. The action scenes in “Parabellum” are stunning. But they take up about half of the movie. Over the course of the three movies (all directed by Chad Stahleski and written by Derek Kolstad), the amount of action has increased and the expense of plot and character development. A late battle between Wick and two martial arts masters is extensive and impressive, but it adds virtually nothing to the storyline. It’s simply filler.

Thankfully, as in the first two films, this third “John Wick” installment comes complete with some surprises and a few new layers involving Wick, The Continental and a core group of characters we’ve come to know and care about, including hotel concierge Charon (played again by Lance Reddick), who finally gets out from behind his desk.

“Parabellum” is the most mainstream, and my least favorite chapter of the three. But this saga remains unique and wildly entertaining. It’s a hit, man.

Jackson Murphy: Emmy Award-winning Film Critic / Entertainment Reporter. Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (@CriticsChoice), SAG-AFTRA (@SAGAwards)