John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ★★★★

Things only continue to heat up for John Wick in a movie that picks up just minutes after the last one. John is now excommunicado and has the entire city of assassins after him. He can't seek help from the Continental and has a $14 million bounty on his head, so I was thrilled to see where the film would take him now that the stakes had escalated so high.

The early scenes pay off on the tension established from this hairy situation for John, and it's exciting to see him relentlessly pursued and battling his way through guys with nothing to lose. Chapter 3 treats us with some of the best fights in the series right off the bat, with an incredible knife-throwing sequence that is over-the-top and hilarious but also kicks ass.

Unsurprisingly and perhaps inevitably, John eventually finds a reprieve as he undertakes a sidequest of sorts to Morocco. While I definitely felt like the stakes and tension were deflated a bit by this detour, it offers a new setting and fun new character portrayed by Halle Berry, who fights alongside her killer dogs. Chad Stahelski spoke regarding the challenges of training dogs to act safely in this sort of way without traumatizing them or turning them violent, and the animal trainers did an excellent job in making them seem like they're tearing these guys to shreds.

There's more going on with the wider world of assassin hierarchy in this film as the Table has sent out the cold and malicious Adjudicator to threaten and make demands those who have assisted John in the past. The Table is pissed that this guy just won't seem to die as they know this one-man wrecking ball will eventually come to batter down their door. While I appreciated the leanness of the first film, the mythology is expanded carefully through the second and third movies so as never to become dizzying or incoherent. It's still fun to learn more about this parallel universe where assassins basically run the world.

When I first saw this movie I somehow had it in my head that it was going to be the final chapter and a trilogy capper. That was the wrong mindset as any sense of resolution would have to wait until the next film. The ending is a little flat, especially when you have to wait years for the next chapter, but it's hard not to look back at Parabellum as anything but an excellent time. The fights are fantastic throughout the film, well-balanced so as never to tire the audience out. From the brutal library kill at the beginning to fighting his biggest fans (two amazing action stars from The Raid), there really isn't a dull moment in Chapter 3. It will be hard to ever top the first movie but the enduring entertainment and excitement of the later entries should not go unnoticed.

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