Director: Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane
After killing a member of the High Table on the grounds of The Continental (a very big no-no), assassin John Wick (Reeves) now has a $14 million bounty on his head, and must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target for every assassin in the world.
As it is out in the shops soon, I feel it is appropriate for me to write a review of the third instalment of the John Wick saga, which I saw at the cinema on the day of release. However, despite this being a while ago this is a film that is easy to write a review of as it is not so different from its predecessors and also is in my view inferior to the first film, though for some reason I seem to be very much in the minority with this opinion.
The first John Wick film was tremendous fun and had a very generic story fitting of any b movie, but it had superb action sequences that elevated it above so many similar films of an oversubscribed genre. It however made a lot of money, and so sequels were inevitable, and these sequels tried to use the film’s novel concept of a hotel for assassins run by Ian McShane that involved gold coins and some rules involving not killing on the grounds of said hotel.
Well, the events of John Wick Chapter 2 have led to everyone wanting to kill our titular protagonist, and many have described this as the best film of the series so far. Well, what compels me to write this review as I feel that John Wick: Chapter 3 is perhaps on a par with the second film, but is actually yet another example of an exhausted franchise that has run out of ideas where the film solely exists to make money.
There is no denying that John Wick: Chapter 3 has some great individual action sequences, especially at the beginning where the violence is physical, raw and brutal; there are knives, fists, guns and even library books involved. However, then when we have had a few punch-ups the film descends into mediocrity with some very lazy narrative clichés and boring gun battles.
The main premise of the film is that it is just Keanu Reeves and his dog versus every assassin there is. Well, not quite as this would not fill the very bloated 130 minute running time, so narrative contrivance and cliché takes over, and our protagonist calls in on characters that have never been previously mentioned to conveniently call in favours that he is owed or can claim, or for characters from his past that will conveniently help him, even though they have no reason to and it is at times hard to understand why they do compromise themselves just to help our hero (apart from the reason of sheer narrative convenience). Even if Jerome Flynn does deserve to be shot solely for his bizarre accent, there is no escaping the fact that Halle Berry’s character decides to help John Wick for any reasons other than that of pure narrative convenience.
There is no denying that Keanu Reeves delivers yet another committed, physical performance, but the fact his character often seems indestructible (especially when riding a horse through the streets of New York in one particularly audacious sequence) means that things start to get very predictable and boring. As the story progresses through its predictable clichés, the gun battles are loud and admittedly very colourful, but get quite tiresome and repetitive. Likewise, the actual scenes involving genuine fisticuffs feel lacking, as characters are on the verge of being able to kill our protagonist then conveniently stop to help him up because of his ‘legendary’ status, and then start fighting him again. This is all done with an element of humour, but still feels painfully lazy in what is quite an exhausting and overall quite unrewarding experience that is then further let down by its cynical and unrewarding ending.
What had the potential to be an epic trilogy-closer ends up being an over-bloated, cliché ridden film that has a few very good individual fight sequences, but John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is overall an unsatisfactory and at times rather dull film.