Third Time’s A Charm
It’s rare with action films to find sequels that surpass the quality of the original. Thankfully, John Wick is one of those rare films. Across two hours, John Wick punches, kicks, stabs and shoots his way through a dizzying array of action set pieces, with a deeper lore and layers of the game unfolding in this shadowy world in which he operates. With some well placed humour, an open ending and gorgeous choreography throughout, Parabellum is not just the best in the franchise, it’s also one of the best action films released in quite some time.
The story picks up right where it left off from before, with skilled assassin John Wick on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head and a slew of killers ready to cash in. After killing one of the High Table members, John is made ex-communicado and here we see him clinging to scraps of familial claims from a previous life as a way to try and buy his survival. This ultimately sees him travel across to Casa Blanca where he winds up enlisting the help of Sofia before inevitably traveling back whence he started and face to face with Winston and The Adjudicator.
Given the overwhelming success of these films, it feels like a lifetime ago when John Wick was a simple revenge story, revolving around a dead dog. With a hierarchical table of assassins, lore, background and very specific, simple rules, John Wick has blossomed into a much bigger and deeper franchise, much to the credit of the series. It’s testament to the imagination of writer Derek Kolstad who delivers a well written playground for the action to take place in.
Ultimately, this is where John Wick really excels. Given the impressive nature of the fighting in Chapter 2, Parabellum turns things up a notch and delivers some of the most impressive choreography and fight sequences seen on screen for quite some time. From motorcycle chases on horseback to a midnight shootout in Casa Blanca, right through to a solitary fist fight in a library, John Wick delivers a smattering of big action throughout its run-time, with a countless number of assassins after him every step of the way.
It’s rare to find an action film surpass its sequels and deliver bigger and better every time without compromising quality. I’ve said it before but these are the sort of roles Keanu Reeves was born to play; a simple character with a simple mission, with just enough depth to make him empathetic and easy to root for without breaking that with emotionally demanding roles. The returning cast members do well to reprise their roles here with Ian McShane as charismatic as ever as Winston. Really though, the two new female additions to the series are the ones who light the screen up. Both of them have great screen presence, armed with tenacity to really nail their roles to perfection.
With an open ending and a teasing glimpse of what could come to pass going forward, Parabellum leaves things hanging in the balance as John Wick finds himself literally in the dumps. Quite whether Chapter 4 can surpass the excellence of this title remains to be seen but for now, John Wick is a series that continues to grow from strength to strength. Boasting impressive action with stunning choreography, good acting and a continuing narrative chock full of believable world building, John Wick comes out swinging, delivering one of the best films of 2019.
Verdict - 9/10