Last Man Standing
The Unstoppable John Wick is Back in an Unforgettable Showdown.
How many ways can you shoot a man in the face? John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum has the answer. Three is the magic number, the third film in the John Wick franchise, also the best action movie of the year. You will not see one better this year, and maybe for a very long time.
Parabellum picks up where John Wick Chapter 2 left off. Wick (Reeves in the titular role), wounded and tired, on the run, killed a man on Continental grounds, which is forbidden, and now he’s excommunicado from the cool kids' assassin club and a $14 million worldwide bounty is on his head, which means a lot of people are going to die because there’s a major problem for anyone trying to collect this bounty: John Wick. Wick is now so popular, assassins not only want to kill him not just for the money but to be the one who gets the fame of killing John Wick.
We’ve seen Wick kick serious ass in the first two films, but Parabellum shows us why he’s the deadliest assassin on the planet. They call him Baba Yaga (boogeyman) for a reason; much like the notorious boogeyman, Michael Myers, Wick is an unstoppable force of nature and possibly superhuman. He can take a stab, punch, kick, fall, and still get up at lightning speed and kill the people trying to kill him. He just cannot die. So the real questions for everyone going after John Wick to collect that bounty is, who will survive, and what will be left of them?
Parabellum has an incredible amount of detail, from the fight scenes to the colorful sets, atmosphere, and clothing. Director Chad Stahelski (director of the first two installments and Reeves’ stunt double for The Matrix trilogy, a franchise that has a heavy influence on this one) makes every scene count. Every shot is meticulously calculated for the fight scenes and shows the audience the narrative without having to spell it out.
Additionally, every scene stands out on its own. One of the smartest and best details about this franchise is the operators. They all have old school sailor tattoos and use first-generation computers, typewriters, rotary telephones, and other old technology to send out messages to assassins. With technology rapidly changing every day, it was a smart and clever decision to purposely use old school technology because it makes the franchise timeless and will never be what people in the film industry call “dated.” Watch Hackers or The Net starring Sandra Bullock and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As a character, John Wick is quick on improvisation and kills in some of the most creative ways I’ve seen in cinema. He’ll kill you dead with anything he can get his hands on -- a gun, a knife, a belt, anything. For the fight scenes, there are long takes so you know it’s Reeves is doing his own stunts. At 55, Keanu Reeves moves and fights like he’s 22. It’s quite impressive.
Parabellum is a martial arts wet dream. The fight scenes are slack-jawing because these are fights never done in cinema before. Stahelski has thought of everything and puts Wick in every difficult situation possible -- in a library pitted against a giant (played by Philadelphia 76ers center, Boban Marjanovic), an underwater shootout, a room full of swords and knives with a dozen assassins, and so much more you have to see to believe and will be talking about for a long time. It’s breathtaking. These scenes are why Parabellum is the best action movie you will see this year, and probably in your lifetime. I don’t know if it was Stahelski’s intention, but each John Wick tops the last and doesn’t repeat any type of previous fight we’ve seen before. Fresh blood to spill in new, innovative ways.
A large amount of credit is due to fight choreographer/stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio (John Wick 1 and 2, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and a fury of beloved action movies) and stunt coordinator Scott Rogers (Jason Bourne movies). These two set up and executed unparalleled fight scenes that look almost impossible to pull off. Everyone involved, the actors, cameraman, everyone, had to be in the right place at the right time to everything done in a way that will no doubt amaze audiences. This shows a lot of confidence in these two from everyone on set because some of these scenes could have been fatal if handled incorrectly.
Added to that, the large roster of assassins will please martial arts fans. Included are Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) from The Raid, The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman) from The Raid 2, Tiger Hu Chen (Man of Tai Chi), and Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Only the Strong), who not only shows off his martial arts skills, but impeccable comedic timing. I’m sure there are other beloved martial arts stars I’m missing here, and that’s because there are so many!
John Wick 3 - Parabellum confirms that Keanu Reeves is now the biggest action star on the planet, and he’s certainly earned it. What started as a new action movie from The Matrix star Keanu Reeves, has now turned into one of the greatest action franchises in film history. John Wick movies will be talked about and watched long after you and I are gone.