In a Hollywood where most productions are manufactured reboots, rehashes, and reinterpretations of previously done media, John Wick Three: Parabellum (Latin for: prepare for war) remains a consistent barricade against this artificially produced narrative. This movie franchise contains everything one could desire in an action adventure flick. Extremely well-choreographed action scenes, realistic usage of firearms, flawless visual effects, superb acting, and brilliant cinematography.
The story requires a knowledge of the events of the past two movies, or at least John Wick 2. To summarize, after John executes Santino D'Antonio inside the Continental Hotel, a supposed sanctuary for criminals, and becomes the target of a fourteen-million dollar bounty because of it, later elevated to fifteen million. The entire movie's plot revolves around John's friends paying the price for their defiance towards the High Table in favour of their old comrade, though these are just sideplots, as the main narrative consists of Wick himself traversing the globe and attempting to seek amends with the High Table and return to his life of peace and, as he says it, 'enjoying his memories'.
John's character itself isn't exactly built on per say. While we're given refreshers on his motivations and the chain of events which led him onto such a gruesome and bloody crusade, and Keanu Reeves owns this character completely. If anything, this movie repeats the obvious, he IS John Wick. His mannerisms are so fluid by now I find it almost jarring sometimes when Keanu doesn't act like a silent assassin badass in the real world, and instead a humble and genuine guy.
The antagonists, while not having a solid, grounded motivation, have defining character aspects about themselves. The Adjucator is the Chancellor of the High Table, and thus acts with a cold, steely, and professional demeanor, betraying not a single dash of emotion. Meanwhile, Zero is a thrill-seeking assassin that views John Wick as his idol, even expressing this sentiment in a few comedic scenes. This movie wasn't designed to provide John a specific foil from which his own character could develop organically. We already understand what drives him from the past two movies, and not watching them is no fault of the writers, producers, or actors. While John Wick 3 is certainly an enjoyable experience alone, to understand the plot I implore you to watch the previous two movies, or at worst, simply read the Wikipedia articles on them.
Continuing forward... this movie has EVERYTHING! Want John Wick riding a horse fighting motorcyclist assassins and shooting them in the FACE!? This movie has got you covered. Want a high-octane tension-filled scene where John uses horses to destroy the jaws and faces of killer mercenaries?! Done! Want an insane Japanese katana-wielding badass who commands a legion of modern samurai warriors that slice and dice through human flesh like butter!? Or maybe a secret society built beneath the guise of a Russian ballet and boxing institution, or perhaps John Wick and an old friend of his fighting their way through a crimelord's entire private army in Morocco, or maybe a scene where John chops off his own finger to provide a short-lived fealty to an enigmatic figure called 'The Elder'. Seriously! It cannot get cooler then the world's most ancient criminal enterprises being commanded by some strange guy sitting on a throne in the middle of the desert! I want entire movies on the backstories of this world, and yet so little of it was actually explained or spoonfed to me. Beyond all these action sequences, John Wick and, by extension, the actors and writers have mastered a technique so many franchises have missed the mark on. Show, not tell. There is never once a long-winded exposition scene by the Adjucator, Winston, Sharon, or any other character involved in this shady business about how it operates, its origins, and the inner workings behind it. Instead, we see the nitty-gritty, how ordinary people continue their lives while simultaneously killing for money. In all of these movies, but in Two and Three especially, we see him taking realistic preparations before engaging in battle, representing how meticulous to detail and identical this world is to our own. I should also add, while I've already stated this, the musical score is on point and elevates the feelings of every character during any given scene. There is so much detail and craft put into the soundtrack it is practically its own character.
And while this story provided a cavalcade of visual gore to accompany Keanu Reeves's excellent stuntsmanship, one instance I found particularly shocking was the twist at the end. Despite John forsaking his finger and later forfeiting his life AGAIN against the High Table to protect Winston, a supposed confidant and friend, Winston utterly betrays Wick and shoots him off the roof of his hotel at the movie's end to solidify his retaken power. That nearly made me jump out of my seat, but knowing that John both survived and is being given a second chance by the same raven-master from the previous film is making me excited for the inevitable fourth installment teased.
John Wick Three isn't just action-packed, and while the action scenes are certainly the movie's main strength, the aspect of showing, not telling, shines through amazingly throughout all three acts of this watch. Characters remain steadfast chess pieces in whatever dark game the High Table is playing, and the movie's conclusion plants the seeds for a revolution against them. I give this a solid 9/10, it misses only one point because of minor plot inconsistencies.
While I know this isn't exactly related to the movie, Keanu Reeves is a wonderful human being. While I don't sport the belief one man or woman's presence on a film, TV show, or videogame can make that particular piece of media great, their talents can certainly elevate it. However, in franchises like the Matrix or John Wick, when Keanu is allowed to take center stage, plus supplemented by an excellent supporting cast, well-crafted screenwriting, cinematography, believable choreography, and yes, dogs, at least in JW's case, its success is almost guaranteed. And I haven't even begun on the many instances Keanu has proved himself humble, gracious, kind, caring, and almost every other positive adjective you can associate with a human being. His presence in the videogame Cyberpunk 2077 alone has made me interested in the title, so that should express how much I support this man's fantastic career. Keep up the good work Mr. Keanu Reeves, wherever you may end up.