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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) starring Keanu Reeves

Excommunicado

This third entry in the action-packed saga of ace hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) picks up very shortly after where the last one left off. In other words, he’s on the run after his mysterious employers - “The High Table” - declare him “excommunicado” and place a $14 million bounty on his head. After several waves of frantic would-be assassins make failed attempts on his life, he meets with a former Russian employer known as The Director (Anjelica Huston) and begs her to provide him with safe passage to Casablanca in Morrocco so that he can locate a man known as The Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui). The latter is the only person who can lift his “excommunicado” status - for a price, of course.

To add to Mr. Wick’s problems, a The High Table have assigned a so-called “Adjudicator” (played by Asia Kate Dillon) the job of investigating his transgressions. When she finds out that various people within their network - including Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and The Director - have all aided and abetted his escape in various ways, she sends a cunning assassin named Zero (Mark Dacascos) to take them all out.

Watch a trailer:

You know the drill…

It would be very easy to just write a summation of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum by saying something along the lines of “if you liked the previous two, then you’ll enjoy this one as well.” It pretty much delivers all of the same gory goods in a very similar manner. For those non-initiates, it means that we get lots of balletically-staged, ultra-violent action of both the shooting and fisticuffs kind (and a few other kinds besides), along with a dash of stylish Harry Potter-esque world-building. It’s a formula that worked well before and it works well again.

At the same time, it does throw a few welcome additions into the mix, the bulk of which come in the form of brand new cast members. The most notable newcomer to the franchise is Halle Berry, who gets her finest role in recent years as a female counterpart to our main protagonist who walks into fights aided and abetted by her two ferocious dogs. It’s a pity that her part only amounts to an extended cameo here but, nonetheless, welcome aboard Halle! While you could argue that Angelica Huston does little more than hamming it up with a mock-Russian accent, she brings a certain undeniable grace and authority to her role. Mark Dacascos is the third highlight here as a remarkably chilled antagonist who holds a disarming level of admiration for Mr. Wick, providing a few comedic moments in the process. In fact, there’s a fair bit more humour on display here than there was in the earlier films. Moreover, it has been effectively worked into the otherwise brutal proceedings without undercutting their impact.

Keanu Reeves and Anjelica Huston in John Wick 3

If I was to point out any shortcomings, I would mention that it’s questionable whether a film like this really needs to be 131 minutes in length. Nonetheless, I can’t say that I was tempted to check my watch at any point. There also seems to be more in the way of obvious CGI than there was in the first two, resulting in a handful of moments that stretch plausibility just a little too far even for a film of this type. This is particularly true of one dramatic moment near the end when a character (I won’t spoil who it is) survives an incident that they almost certainly wouldn’t have walked away from in real life.

But… well… you know the drill. Just go to the cinema, buy a bucket of popcorn and relish it for the heady action rush that it is. Or, if it’s not your thing, don’t.

Runtime: 131 mins

Dir: Chad Stahelski

Script: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Tobias Segal, Anjelica Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

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