This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I had a really hard time deciding on this one, but ultimately there are a few things that edges this one out to a 3.5.
I think it makes most sense to start with the issues I had:
1. Halle Berry's character is left way more open than I think is expected. Her daughter was made to be a big deal and seemed like a potential set-up, she left the movie pretty abruptly which feels like they cut some significant scenes of her out (John meets her, they go to her boss, they have a shootout, and she drops him off at the desert) as her total screen time is maybe 15 minutes(?), she essentially excommunicated herself by shooting her prior boss for a bad reason (yes I know, dogs, but still now her life of many privileges is completely over) and all of this is completely going to change her being a Continental manager and make her on the run now.
2. The way the plot moves is... very very odd. Wick wants to find someone (the Elder), so he finds someone else (Halle Berry) to find a third someone (Jeremy Flynn) who can point him to the first someone (the Elder). This seems pretty wasteful as both Berry and Jerome Flynn end up feeling massively underutilized, and the quest of finding the Elder by going through two other characters really shortchanges what they could have brought to the plot.
3. Then John is seemingly totally fine pledging complete allegiance back to The Table and then when he goes to kill Ian McShane he doesn't care anymore? I know McShane convinces him first by a speech, but it just sort of feels like John switching sides is so... abrupt when it seems like his motivation for the entire first 2/3's of the movie is to be accepted back by the High Table. It just feels really flip-floppy, like when you have a D&D player who just says "okay sure" to every quest an NPC gives them)
4. WHO THE FUCK IS THE ELDER AND WHY DID IT FEEL LIKE IT DIDN'T MATTER AT ALL? Like... this is THE guy who is ABOVE The Table, and... it was incredibly underwhelming? I am sorry to nitpick on this but it just had so little buildup it didn't really have any impact at all, and the guy doesn't really have any particularly interesting costume design (which is super important in these genres, you'll notice that almost every other "important" person in this series is very memorable looking) then he suddenly just never shows up at all again? This also feels like they cut something out, it was just far too brief for how much authority this guy has (literally MORE POWERFUL than The Table?)
5. Some of the action scenes unfortunately felt a little long and too repetitive, the ones that come to mind are the dogfight in Morocco and the fight with The Raid Redemption guys at the end, these are awesome don't get me wrong, but it did feel like they were running out of ideas as opposed to the absolutely fucking brilliant book fight in the library and antique shop/knife fight early in the movie.
I know this is an action movie first and foremost and I'm not saying the previous films were flawless with their script, but watching each of these movies for the first time in a row (and then rewatching them afterwards), I just sort of feel like the third suffers a lot from an undercooked script compared to the first two, which does lower my opinion of it (mind, from like a 9/10 to an 8/10)
Okay that's all out of the way, why does this still get (barely) 3.5 stars? I think the additional world building is really intriguing here, I'm especially interested in The Director, the woman Wick asked for help in the theater, as well as the adjudicating system. I do feel like both these parts could be really fleshed out way more, but I find that all these roles and third-parties within and outside of The Table to be the best part of these movies. At times it seems like The Table is almost really just about to explode in a huge civil war as each group tries to swallow up power, and that's really what I'm interested in when the fourth movie comes out. The action is also quite solid here although I don't think it's as consistent as the first two movies, but the peaks are the peaks of the series. And I do think they are really creative in the fights as well, it just unfortunate that the fights end up being so dragged out in the second half.
I think essentially the first quarter is the strongest 5/5 I've ever seen in this genre, the middle two quarters is an alright 3/5, and the end is a respectable 3.5/5, and ultimately I like this series so much and there's so many good ideas here that are really quite innovative that I still think this movie continues the series' tradition of pushing the action genre forward to new heights. It's a high 3.5, but I think it's mostly because the second movie does so much right that it's hard to measure up to that masterpiece.