John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is hands down the best action film of the year. Not since Mad Max: Fury Road has an action film left me dizzy with awe. It continues exactly where the second film in the John Wick series left off, and the next 30 minutes is some of the best action cinema you will ever experience. It straps you in from the get-go, and for the next 131 minutes it never lets up once.
For those who don’t know, Keanu Reeves plays the title character, whose dog was murdered by some gangsters in the first film. He then decides to go on a spree of vengeance like none that the world has ever seen. The original reason is almost forgotten at this point, because it’s just an excuse to see Keanu Reeves be the biggest cinematic badass of this decade. John Wick is on the run here after he has been declared “excommunicado” by his handlers at the High Table. The bounty on his head is 14 million dollars, so as you can imagine there will be blood, and quick.
The John Wick series is totally the Keanu Reeves show, and although he is 55 now, he is still in excellent physical shape and shows any younger action star that he is still the real deal. Keanu is also just a solid actor. When dramatic moments are called for, he can pull that off as well. This is a role that plays to all his of strengths as a performer, with some knowing nods to his earlier work, mainly The Matrix Trilogy.
The excellent supporting cast keeps on growing, and some favourites return here, such as Ian McShane and of course Keanu’s The Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburn as the Bowery King. New additions include Halle Berry as Sofia, who is essentially a female John Wick. She is only in the film for a bit because it’s very much a story of this one guy against this bureaucratic underworld run by “The High Table,” so her presence for the entire film would undo the whole point of the story. Anjelica Huston also appears as The Director, who is a member the Ruska Roma society. John was a member of the society, and now he needs their help. Huston is great, but has she ever been bad in a film?
The film may be directed by Chad Stahelski, but almost all its style is clearly down to the cinematographer Dan Laustsen. The use of neon colours and shadow, and the final battle in a glass building, are all the work of a master cinematographer. It’s no surprise that Laustsen has worked with Guillermo Del Toro off and on ever since Mimic, and just was nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Shape of Water. The series has only grown in pure aesthetically pleasure with the addition of Laustsen as cinematographer on the second film.
The humour of the series also just gets better and better as it does along, I was giddy at the over-the-top ultra-violence from the outset, and it never stopped. It’s as flawless as an action film can be—so it’s just a shame about the very silly subtitle. For the third film to be the best one yet in a series is quite the achievement. The sequel couldn’t come soon enough, and luckily for us Shahelski works fast: the next instalment is due on the May 21st, 2021.
The Blu-Ray disc includes over an hour of making-of featurettes, two trailers, and also a featurette and trailer for the John Wick Hex video game.