Raphael Georg Klopper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mine grand excitement after watching and while thinking about the movie it definitely will blur any proper words of which I can say, trying to analyze the beautiful piece of filmmaking that director Chad Stahelski, screenwriter Derek Kolstad (and three more others this time) and Keanu Reeves as powerhouse star had accomplished in making here in their third installment of what it is now not only one of the best action trilogies ever made, but damm, one of the best trilogies ever made (at least till the fourth one comes out them we will have one of the best quadrilogies ever made)! And they seemingly had done this with little to no pressure as it seems, just to proof the enormous passion that everyone involved in this movie has for this character and his world created by them, and that kept on expanding.
The evolution and size this franchise had molded itself by each new installment, with the first one being that small-scale revenge action movie containing a underworld of assassins, and carring a heavy poignant drama story about avenging the small shade of happiness of the character’s life, and at the end finding it again; and them the second movie becoming this survival thriller about making out alive of the world the character once inhabit and now swallows him in dreadfully.
Now as a result of the consequences in chapter II, Chapter III dives into becoming this sort of part James Bond-ish international adventure movie, part fight for survive along the perils of the night with the best traces of The Warriors of Walter Hill, which turns it into one of those nocturnal survival movies like Escape From New York or even After of Hours, while also following that classic Noir vibe of the gigantic city seemingly having a life of its own, slowly swallowing the character with each step that it takes to survive the dreads on his pursue at all costs. And still making small and passionate references for the pillars of cinema, from Buster Keaton to a small mention to Tarkovsky, and also making direct tributes to The Good The Bad and The Ugly from Leone.
Speaking of Keaton, and his infinite legacy left for unstopping years of real life stunts on camera, Stahelski goes beyond just honoring the figure of his master as he had already done in the second film, but here it takes it to the level of creating his action following a whole learning of classical cinema school of filmmaking. Much larger that even the recent MI6: Fallout who was also strongly inspired by this style of staging so physically its action, while here we have the same doubly inspired in its creation, but also carrying a lot of sadistic and a tragicomedic physical sense of humor, that actually manages to make you laugh by every violent blow.
The first twenty masterful minutes of the film containing one of the best knife battles of all time, with choreography, timing and perfect staging; the book scene recreating how it would be a fight between Bond and Jaws R-rated version; and the best sequence I've ever seen inside a horse stable; are there as proof that I'm not exaggerating in mine overhyped statements. All resulting in this vibe of a truly strong physical comedy, along with almost musical-like choreographies, like they were hyper stylized dances of violence and death. And creating an abstract form of action, turning it into an true form of art, where each movement and blow become an artistic brushstroke, and where each editing cut within the time slots of each action sequence are meticulously timed and planned to perfection.
Let’s just say the sheer obvious, is a practically perfect action without any stumbling. Just to show how much of a great dedication and effort Stahelski has put into every detail of the action here. that leaves her completely mindblowingly awesome, making a film totally addicted to its action scenes, to the point where every shootout and punch exchange scenes lasts much longer than any current American movie allowed itself to leave be, aside from maybe Mad Max: Fury Road. With much larger stage scenarios, where a scene is bigger, different, creative and better than the last, and that perpetuates as a model until the end of the film.
Which shows how much its director is increasingly embarking on this current sort of movement that started in Matrix by the Wachowski and then continued by directors like Tony Scott, Michael Bay, hell, even from guys like McG or Paul W.S Anderson, of making a hyper meaning of the genre itself, to raise its references to an almost abstract level and in an intermediation of medias where it is not only the cinema anymore that serves as a main base, but is also the video game, animes, literature, video clips, everything to create its aesthetics, pacing and own language, increasingly more unique and different of everything that is seen being done in Hollywood action nowadays. You can either see this and admire it or not, but this really is a signature way of making the best version of action with an particular author hand and vision.
We could all love this movie for the craft and presence of action alone, even if that might sacrifice that of what many may still expect to see in a John Wick story plot, especially after a really touching that was present part of the first film, and sort of glimpsed by at the second chapter. But that’s just because it doesn’t leave away any emotional core from the character’s story, just encapsulated it in a more spiritual sphere if you will. Raising things along the way like themes of the power of cunning over strength, temptation and vengeance, and if not anymore about fighting to escape certain underworld of assassins, it’s a fight about being alive only to be able to remember the only thing he ever loved in live, fighting for the last air of humanity left on him.
Still pretty deep powerful stuff, just as powerful as the powerful craft displayed here, cementing Stahelski as a true action auteur, with still lots to offer to both the amazing character he helped create and the genre he helped renew in this decade in an all inspiring way. And hey, you brought back Halle Berry from the ashes (about dam time) and let her shine in one of the best scenes in the movie, alongside the John Wick versions of dogs, thank you for all of that. Oh and you Keanu, you’re just too good to be true, live on forever as your iconic character legacy will. Bring me this fourth movie tomorrow!
P.S: Let’s not forget one small fact here, this is another remarkable trilogy where the hero sacrifices his finger over a ring to a powerful evil lord in exchange of salvation. You Stahelski is a genius sir!