Guns. Knives. Swords. Dogs. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum has it all. And it’s a lot to take in, often to the point of sensory overload. I needed several cocktail runs during the screening just to calm my nerves!
The film picks up where Chapter Two left off, John about to be excommunicado for spilling blood at the Continental. He’s racing to get himself and his dog to safety. Even before time runs out, he’s on the run from every underworld hit squad hoping to cash in on the $14 million open contract on his head.
The shining moments of the film are the fight scenes. The are intense, long, and exceptionally well choreographed. From the battle in the library where books are used as lethal weapons, to a mirror and glass filled room where knives and swords are wielded with abandon, Parabellum ups the ante on action.
Halle Berry is Sofia, a bad ass from John’s past. She, too, has a couple of adorable and equally bad ass dogs. In this scene the pups defend Sofia by going after the attackers’ crotches. So dedicated are they to the task at hand you start to wonder which obedience school they were sent to. It kind of reminded me of the junkyard hound in Stand By Me, where the kids were sure the owner said “Chopper! Sic Balls!”
And while these fights are long, visual feasts, they start to border on being too long. Everyone is getting shot, sliced, and/or diced. And it never ends. At some point it becomes tedious. And you start to wonder if it becomes a way to cover up a weak story.
All Over The Place
The movie goes from New York to Casablanca to the African desert and back. And aside from the aforementioned epic battles going down nearly every place we go, we meet a host of nefarious characters either demanding or pledging fealty to The High Table (the worldwide consortium of baddies).
And while key characters were solidly developed in previous installments, new characters are sketched out and we’re left to fill in the details. There are so many two dimensional roles that it’s maddening. But whenever we might start asking questions, the director launches into yet another battle sequence, the equivalent of distracting a child with a shiny coin.
But it works. The fan-filled audience at my screening were cheering each gruesome death and every snarky line. They were into it, so this movie hits home for the fan base. Making them even happier, the film clearly points us in the direction of where Chapter Four will go. I hope there are more dogs.
And it really is a family movie. Albeit the Manson family, but family nonetheless.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Louis XIII Cognac. At $600 a bottle, I think that’s what Winston was drinking in his panic vault during the climactic fight scene. If it’ll help my ears stop ringing from all the gunshots in this film, I’ll have a double!