By Kevin Muller
The John Wick saga is for those movie goers who want to be entertained by a different world other than one full of superheroes, time travel, Infinity Stones, or big purple meanies. It’s unrelentingly violent, but stylish, and has a simple story that’s set in a vast and detailed world. Most of all, it has an energetic spirit led by its leading man, Keanu Reeves.
When we last left our favorite assassin, he had just killed off a major crime boss on the grounds of the hotel, The Continental. This is a major violation of the code amongst the assassins. The residence is considered a safe zone, so he is now ex-communicated, or ex-communicado, by his employers, The High Table. This results in them placing a relatively large bounty on his head. On top of that, Wick’s two higher ups, are now in trouble for giving him leeway, instead of turning him in. Both have two weeks to give up their businesses or face deadly consequences. Meanwhile, Wick does everything to clear his name. On his journey, he runs into a fellow assassin, Sofia, who he shares a rocky relationship with due to a past incident. Despite her best efforts to avoid getting involved with his mess, she can’t break the sacred Assassin’s bond he has with her. In unseen events, we learn that he saved her life, and promised to return the favor when needed.
The story of the film is straight forward, but that has never been why these films are largely successful. In the future, that may change since the deeper we go into this world, the more detailed it gets. What started out as a simple revenge tale, in honor of his murdered dog, who was given to him by his deceased wife, seems to be growing into something that could justify Reeves’s desire to keep this going for a long time. For now, people just love seeing Reeves knock off assassins one by one and the action is incredible. In most action films you save the best for last, but right out of the gate, that aspect of the film comes at you full force. The first couple battles are brutal with beautifully choreographed fights that involve guns, knives, fists, books, and horses. Yep, you read that right…horses. Reeves, who is still young faced at 54, is 100% into these tests of stamina. The cinematography lingers right in the action so there is no way to hide an edit where a stunt double can move in. It is all Reeves and he own it. The cinematography also contributes to the beauty of this secretive and deadly world.
Halle Berry plays Sofia and looking like she is having the time of her life. She owns two loyal German Shepherds that also become part of the fun. In one battle sequence, she uses them as much as any other weapon at her disposable. The animal stunts must have raised the bar for the movie animal training business. The dogs are both adorably cute one minute, then become vicious killers in the drop of a hat. Even though it really isn’t something discussed in reviews, hats off to the animal trainers who made those two German Shepherds as bad ass as their human co-stars.
Lionsgate, who made the film, have been looking for another franchise since the Saw films have been starting to fizz out. Based on the reactions these films have received, this could definitely be their new cash cow. There are many characters, who don’t become part of the body count, who seem to be a part of a bigger plan for future stories. If the future films have as much style, brutality, and action as this film does, then start rolling them out. In a world where art is starting to lose its edge, we need more like these to showcase that the idea of a “safe zone” hasn’t emasculated Hollywood.
I am giving John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum a 4 out of 5 Hairpieces!