After receiving the invite for the advance screening of John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum at SM Cinema, I only needed a second to accept the invite. I’ve been a fan of the franchise since John Wick waged his first vendetta against the mob that killed his puppy and now that the entire assassins’ community is coming down on him, I won’t be sitting this one out. Let me tell you straight out, it was everything that the trailer promised, and more.
Synopsis: After killing Santino D’Antonio (Ricardo Scarmaccio) on Continental’s sacred grounds, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is declared as an ex-communicado and therefore an open target for every assassin in the world with a $14 million bounty on his head. With only an hour head start given to him by Continental’s manager Winston (Ian Shayne), John must escape and survive to meet the Elder of the High Table to seek counsel. Meanwhile, an adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) from the High Table comes for Winston and The Bowery King (Lawrence Fishbourne) for the parts they played in the death of D’Antonio.
Parabellum: If you want peace, prepare for war
John Wick 3 is being feted as the best installment in the franchise by many critics and I agree that it did deliver on every one of its promises. Aesthetically, I would consider John Wick an art form with the elaborate and detailed sets that the film employed. It was just a visual feast from start to finish.
However, for me, it was always the excellent fight choreography that drew me to the franchise — whether it was on the ground, on motorbikes, on cars — and the fact that John just kept fighting amid all the injuries he has sustained was just a pure adrenalin rush. I loved watching Keanu Reeves just nail every scene with precision and accuracy. Its a true testament to his dedication to his role and excellent partnership he has with film director Chad Stahelski, who happens to be his stunt coordinator as far back as the Matrix trilogy.
I also appreciated the fact that John Wick didn’t rest on its laurels and went international for the fight scenes. Chinese, Japanese as well as Indonesian martial arts were showcased in the movie and I was particularly fangirling about the inclusion of Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman (The Raid Redemption) in the cast because these guys are just masters when it comes to pencak silat. Their face off against John was a fitting tribute to the Indonesian martial art.
As expected, John Wick upped the ante when it came to its action sequences. Within the first 15 minutes, John kills off over a dozen men and effectively raised his bounty to a million. Every fight scene was entertaining because despite the intensity and the injuries, there was also an underlying humor in it, like an inside joke between filmmakers and the audience. My particular favorites were the knife throwing scene at the beginning and the extended fight in Casablanca with Halle Berry and her dogs. My heart was just about ready to stop both because of the tension and amazement about the perfection in the scene’s execution. I was particularly stressed by the Continental scene though with those unique bulletproof armors used by High Table operatives, and I learned another thing about weaponry too. I won’t spoil it for you.
I must say that I was hoping that Mark Dacascos would prove to be the ultimate villain to John Wick’s hero because he seemed to be equipped with the intensity and the skills to go head to head against Baba Yaga himself. I was a bit disappointed when they injected the fanboy side to him which reduced his badass quotient by a bit. In terms of fighting abilities though, he was the one who came closest to John and it was a great showdown to cap off the movie. However, in this regard, I would still hand over the crown to D’Antonio as the franchise’s best villain because although he may not be skilled in fighting, he truly exudes pure evil and you just want him dead from start to finish. We don’t fault John for killing him in spite of the consequences.
I love that John Wick 3 was consistent with every aspect of the franchise and in terms of world building, it does an amazing job of expanding the reach of its story. Parabellum in particular, introduced snippets of John’s origins as well as new characters that he would be pitted against in the future. From the John Wick, to John Wick 2, to this third installment, each movie is connected to each other — seamlessly stitched together by a master tailor in the form of Derek Kolstad who created the character and worked on all three movies. Because of this universe that he, Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves have built, a new standard is formed where sequels can surpass its predecessors and quality across the franchise is maintained.
That’s why it did not seem off that Parabellum seems to imply an extension of the franchise beyond three movies. But rather than scoff and dismiss it as Lionsgate’s attempt to cash in on the saga, fans still want John Wick to continue to settle the score, with growing stakes and with a growing network of characters to explore.
All in all, bravo to “John Wick 3: Parabellum.” It was indeed an exciting, heart pounding, well written, and perfectly executed installment to the expanding franchise and I would definitely recommend it to any action afficionado that I know. A lot of hard work went into making this high quality franchise and its shows. Yes, its that good.
John Wick: Chapter 3 opens in theaters May 15.