John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) Review



It may not be quite as good as the first movie but Parabellum looks stunning, is packed with innovative action and Mark Dacascos is at his best. Keanu Reeves obviously nails it once again even if Wick himself isn’t all that fascinating a character.

Plot: After gunning down a member of the High Table — the shadowy international assassin’s guild — legendary hit man John Wick finds himself stripped of the organization’s protective services. Now stuck with a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world’s most ruthless killers.

Review: You know how sometimes you have such high expectations for something that there is no way it can possibly live up to them? I think that might be the case with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; it was my most anticipated movie of the year and as much as I enjoyed it I can’t help but feel a little flat.

I know I’m going to get a torrent of abuse for this review due to everyone else giving it raves but I have to be honest; I think this was a hugely entertaining movie and has plenty to enjoy but the first John Wick remains my favourite.

I realised while watching Parabellum that the character of John Wick himself just isn’t all that interesting; he doesn’t really have any personality and it’s all the people around him who make the world of Wick what it is. I do miss the days of larger than life action heroes whose personalities are bigger than the action scenes…

The first John Wick movie had real heart due to the death of his wife and dog but the past two entries (despite having superlative action sequences) left me rather cold. Wick remains an unstoppable force of nature who always looks near death but his sheer willpower keeps him going. We do get a little bit of backstory for him which was interesting but nothing too deep.

Sometimes when you come out of the movie theatre you are on a high after seeing exciting action scenes but tonight I came out and said “that was really good” but I have to admit I found the final fight scenes went on just a little too long. It could be the fact that it’s 1:30am and we saw a late night screening so I am at this stage utterly exhausted but I’m pretty sure my opinion won’t change.

I make it sound as if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Parabellum but I did and as I said this is my tiredness talking this evening so let’s get into the good stuff.

My favourite scene was arguably the opening fight in the library which was savage in every way climaxing in a fantastic kill courtesy of Mr. Wick. Then there is an incredible knife fight with blades being thrown around with even more bloody and satisfying deaths; needless to say this is easily the most violent entry in the series and our audience was cheering at various points which is always a good sign.

Respect must always be given to Keanu who is game for anything and despite Wick never really saying much Reeves’ sheer likability shines through so you’re always rooting for our hero.

Reeves does the majority of his own stunts and it’s hard to pick which is the most awesome but the horse scene is way up there and it’s clearly him doing all the shooting and fighting too.

There isn’t a bad set-piece for the entire runtime and it looks exquisite with everything lit to perfection, sumptuous set design and the world of The Continental coming off like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. I was thinking that while watching; there’s this whole secret world of assassins that is going on that we normal folk (Muggles) don’t know about with all these hidden places and it just reminded me of the Wizarding World for some bizarre reason.

Anyway, you could literally take a screenshot from any scene in these movies and use it as wallpaper as it is arguably the most stylish action series to date; I’ve never seen such jaw dropping set design in an action movie that just made me want to step into that world and live there… no matter how dangerous it may be.

The supporting cast is the best of the series including Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Yayan Ruhian and most importantly Mr. Mark Dacascos who steals the entire show. This is one of his best roles to date and is easily the strongest villain of the series while also providing a few moments of hilarity.

Halle Berry was perfectly cast as Sofia who John teams up with and she is believably tough especially with her pack of dogs and they have yet another amazing action sequence half way through the movie.

87 Eleven Action Design really surpass themselves with these movies as the fight scenes are brutally effective where you can see (and feel) every punch, kick and stab so it’s really because of them and director Chad Stahelski that these films are as slick and popular with audiences as they are.

Ian McShane hams it up wonderfully and almost comes across like Roger Moore’s Bond with the raised eyebrow and humour in his eyes. He is clearly having a ball and is one of my favourite characters in the series.

It’s open for a 4th movie and I gotta say I’m not sure I really want one; obviously I’ll be there but it needs to have more stakes to give us something or someone to care about.

Overall, John Wick: Parabellum has some of the most stunning action sequences of the year, sumptuous cinematography and a standout performance from Mark Dacascos. I think personally I prefer the first one but this is still massively entertaining and needs to be seen on as large a screen as possible for maximum enjoyment.