FlixChatter Review- JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM (2019)

Parabellum is Latin for “prepare for war” and is often used within the context of the phrase Si vis pacem, para bellum, meaning “If you want peace, prepare for war.” (per Wiki). This title is absolutely spot-on for John Wick 3, which picked up exactly as the second movie left off. Our titular hero who’s beaten and bloodied is on the run, literally. There’s a lot of running in this movie… running in the rain, in the streets of Manhattan, dark alleyway, fluorescent-lit building with glass walls allover, you name it… John is either running or fighting.

Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves) has less than one hour until he’s declared excommunicado by The High Table, a shadowy council of high-level crime lords, a society of well-dressed, lethal assassins. The reason for his persona non grata happened in John Wick 2, when John broke the rule of conducting deadly business on The Continental grounds, which is supposed to be a safe haven for assassins. With $14 million contract bounty on his head, naturally ALL of the world’s most dangerous criminals are on to him. Yes, initially John was all about avenging his dead puppy (given by his beloved late wife), but the previous film has shown us a bit about his backstory and his connection to this mysterious underworld society. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad and his team of four writers has crafted something quite intriguing with the High Table concept, but in the final chapter, there’s no time to delve deeper into this underworld as the focus is on action, action, and more action.

Director Chad Stahelski, a former-stunt-guy-turned-filmmaker (who used to double for Keanu himself) clearly loves action and all forms of martial arts. He relished in basically giving action fans all kinds of fight sequences imaginable. By now he’s specialized in hyper-kinetic action as a form of storytelling. There’s barely any pause in between gun-fu shoot-em-up and another well-choreographed fight sequence with swords, knife, basically anything John could find. Man, even a book is proven to be lethal in the hand of Mr. Wick! The movie is obsessed with the ballet-of-death and there’s even an actual ballet dancing in it. As an Indonesian, I have to say I was quite giddy when two Indo actors (Pencak Silat experts from the equally-violent actioner The Raid) get to fight John Wick and even uttering some lines in Bahasa.

To make life even more complicated for Wick, the High Table sent The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to declare severe verdicts to anyone who helps him. Wick’s perilous adventure takes him from Manhattan to Morocco where he goes to collect his debt from Sofia (Halle Berry), a former assassin who’s pretty much Wick’s equal. Hey she even have a pair of killer dogs she loves like her own children, definitely John Wick’s kind of woman. Debt collection is a running theme in this movie, in line with the classic themes of loyalty and allegiance that’s common in this genre. Angelica Huston has a brief but intriguing moment as a high-ranking member of the High Table that Wick encountered.

Now, John Wick is definitely made for people who love action movies, specifically the fantastical action flick in the vein of Mission Impossible, James Bond, Fast & Furious, etc. It’s an action franchise where absurdity is the norm given the sheer invincibility of the hero. It’s fitting that the trailer song is Andy Williams’ The Impossible Dream, its lyrics say ‘To fight the unbeatable foe… To bear with unbearable sorrow.‘ All the ridiculous and over-the-top action sequences are expected demanded by fans, and Stahelski & Reeves obviously knew this. They upped the ante by raising the stakes so high that blows the limit of credulity out of the water. I find myself laughing and shaking my head a lot during the craziest action scenes. The ultra-stylized action gets so overblown it’s cartoonish, but THAT is precisely the appeal of John Wick movies. The horse chase through Manhattan traffic scene in particular was a lot of fun to watch because it is absurd. I have to say though, some of the action scenes, no matter how amazingly-choreographed they are, would get repetitive. My mind glossed over quite a bit during many of the brutal, no-holds-barred fight scenes, even as I heard a lot of moviegoers wincing loudly as Wick viciously goes through one opponent after another.

Visually speaking, the movie is stunning. Danish DP Dan Laustsen created a vivid, luminous cinematography with extended long takes on the fight sequences where you can practically see every movement. That glass set towards the end is particularly beautiful to look at, which of course becomes a ‘house of pain’ for Wick as he literally crashes into one glass structure after another. Mark Dacascos proves to be one of Wick’s toughest foe in the final battle, but he provides some comic relief as well. The dynamic score by Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard (who also scored the previous films) perfectly punctuates all the action.

Gif courtesy of range365.com

In a hyper-stylized movie that prioritizes adrenaline-pumping action above everything else, there’s no room for narratives nor logic. There are so many inconsistencies in the way the High Table or The Continental is supposed to be run. Obviously the filmmakers care so much more about perfecting their action sequences than exploring the film’s own ‘mythology.’ After all of that world-building it did in the second film, I can’t help thinking that it’s a missed opportunity not to explore those further. Wick’s Russian backstory is merely hinted at and uttered in passing as if it hardly mattered. We’re constantly shown what John Wick can do, instead of who he really is and what truly drives him. Just as Wick’s opponents often get hit over the head with things, I feel like the filmmakers are hitting the audience over the head with Wick’s fighting skills. There’s only so many ways one can kill another person before we get numbed by the deafening gunfire or knife slashing sound.

That said, it’s still a fun experience to see Keanu Reeves in his element, doing what he does best. I’m always glad to see familiar faces from the previous films – Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick, the loyal concierge who finally got in on some of the action, but this movie truly belongs to Reeve from start to finish. It’s interesting that the most peaceful actor (whose known for his benevolence and humility) makes the most mercilessly-violent movies. But he’s become an action legend as this suffering hero, a role he’s clearly born to play. The super-fit 50-something star doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, and neither does this franchise.


So, what do you think of JOHN WICK franchise? If you’ve seen JOHN WICK 3, let me know what YOU think!

Everybody’s Chattin’ + John Wick: Chapter 2 trailer

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Happy Tuesday, or if you’re an eternal optimist, happy-three-more-days-until-Friday! 😀 My hand is still not well yet, apparently it’s NOT Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s something w/ a fancy name: Extensor Tenosynovitis. Heh, it’s really annoying, I have to wear a splint daily which makes typing a chore. I might have to do MRI in a couple of weeks if it’s still not better by then.

In any case, it’s time for some community links… so here we go!

Ahhh I love Autumn… it’s my fave season. That’s why I LOVE Alex‘s latest quiz post

Michael reviewed the classic Hitchcock Strangers On A Train

… whilst Keith just reviewed the New Zealand comedy I can’t wait to watch: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

A new blog I recently discovered, The Double Take, just reviewed Deepwater Horizon

Jenna & Allie reviewed Bridget Jones’ Baby which I also enjoyed (my review should be up later this week!)

The latest HBO show Westworld has got everyone talking, check out Margaret‘s recap of episode 2 (we’re gonna binge on it in November when most of the episodes are available!)

Speaking of TV, Getter just posted about The Fall season 3.

Since it is Halloween month, lots of sites are dedicating a month of horror…

Dell just reviewed Scouts Guide to Zombie Apocalypse which actually sounds like a hoot…

… and Steven just reviewed Bride of Frankenstein


Now on to the sequel I can’t wait to see…

Though generally I prefer new, original stories, once in a while came a movie so fun I can’t help wishing for a sequel. Well, John Wick is such a movie and it seems that people are quite um, taken by this action franchise as there’s reportedly John Wick 3 in the works even as the first trailer just dropped!

Well, you don’t mess with Keanu, the seemingly meek and mild-mannered man who can spontaneously combust whenever his beloved dog is threatened. The trailer promises even more action and Keanu being as lethal as well as bulletproof as Neo! We’ve got the same director, Chad Stahelski, as the first one, and the movie looks just as stylish done on a modest budget (reportedly the first film was done for only $20 mil). Oh and speaking of The Matrix, gotta love the Neo + Morpheus reunion w/ Laurence Fishburne, woo hoo!

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I love the teaser poster of the hero being measured for a suit. Per HitFix, Keanu told the New York Comic-con crowd that “I really liked putting this suit back on and doing what John Wick gets to do… He’s a guy that’s really fighting to be free.” He’s just so perfect for the role and he makes John Wick so watchable!

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The Rome scenery looks gorgeous too. Not quite a Roman Holiday though… no rest for the wicked I suppose. Well let’s hope John gets a bit of some relaxing vacation in the Eternal city before all hell break loose and he puts an end to his enemies’ dream of an eternal life on this earth.

John Wick Chapter 2 is out a day before my birthday on February 10, so hey, nice to see something exciting released in the *dead months* of Winter!

 


What do you think of the John Wick 2 trailer? Are you as psyched as I am?