John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Riddled with as many holes as the bodies left in its wake and as such any thematic resonance rings particularly hollow, but it's to its core conceptual credit that it still ends up as thrilling as it is in spite of its sloppiness.

If I'm being honest, I think this is when the "Marvel-fication" of this franchise really rears its head and these movies essentially become gentrified superhero films. Which, to be fair, these are pretty good superhero films if we're comparing them to the others but still, it's a bit sad to see. Like Chapter 2 everything is certainly bigger but not better, whatever consistency that was carefully maintained in its predecessors quickly crumbling under its ambitions. I think that's the real issue, is that it is simultaneously bloated yet underdeveloped, a movie that should really be two movies to do proper justice to the ideas it introduces. I know a lot of people will say that the plot was silly to begin with, but it was at least logical, fleshed-out, and (most importantly) in tandem with its action, the two in symbiosis. Chapter 3 - Parabellum: You Can (Not) 358/2 Days completely abandons this relationship and positions the plot to be in service of the action, an excuse that can be as thin as it needs to in order to arrive at the next setpiece.

Which, speaking of, are simultaneously the best up to this point and also the worst. There's no denying the increased visual artistry and spectacle that is afforded by its much larger budget, but the overindulgent nature of these scenes which crop up in Chapter 2 is in full-bloom here: it says a lot when the best and most inspired setpiece happens ten minutes in and everything after feels increasingly derivative. Really there's just only so many ways that John Wick can shoot at endless waves of bad guys over and over while tactically-reloading before you start to notice repeated choreography as it all washes over in one big blur, and the hand-to-hand fighting doesn't fare much better. I have endless respect and admiration for Keanu Reeves so don't get me wrong, but it's quite evident how limited a lot of the fights are when the aging actor is put up against professional martial artists who've been doing it their entire lives.

Its greatest sin however is reducing Wick to a complete empty vessel and here is the first time I feel like the character disappears, every action he takes motivated towards providing audiences with more action and more sequels rather than any internal consistency. I know some may say that this is the point, that this is actually a brilliant meta-narrative way of demonstrating his loss of agency over his life and emblematic of his newfound soul-searching etc. etc., but... you can do all that and still be well-written. This isn't.

All that being said this is still what blockbuster cinema should aspire to be. It's stupid and frustrating and bloated and empty, and given that Hollywood is already often these things then why not be like Chapter 3?

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