John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum review
In an attempt at being transparent, in 2014 I had no interest in viewing John Wick. The film snob in me couldn’t rally behind the simple plot starring an actor I didn’t run out to see. How very wrong I was. What started with John Wick, which cumulates with John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Not only did the film showcase the various talents of Keanu Reeves, but displayed the beauty of stunts in the film.
Parabellum takes place exactly where Chapter Two ends, with John running for his life as the clock to excommunicado ticks away. In a short amount of time, the entire criminal underground is going to attempt to terminate John Wick’s reign. This leaves little time for John to conduct last-minute preparation for survival.
This film is a part of a series, and if you have not absorbed the previous entities, you must do so without haste. It is true that each film stands on its own while explaining and elaborating on its predecessor, but for full effect, they must be consumed in order. It’s actually brilliant if you think about it. In each film, the story catches you up with exposition before exploring the next chapter. This may come off as redundant in other films, but in the John Wick series, it’s a way to remind the viewer where the story is coming from. The heart of the film comes from John’s pain, and that cannot be erased through the blood he has shed in its wake. This makes the film grounded in something pure, even if the mode of absolution is through brutality.
The brutally in Parabellum is unlike anything we have seen before. It’s a fitting elevation in action that mimics the rise in the story’s tension that is accompanying each new Chapter. The sequences have surpassed the extremely high-level director Chad Stahelski established in John Wick and were breathtaking to watch. Each character in this world is skilled in a different discipline, and that detail does not slip by this action fan. The intricate fight details arranged by Stahelski and Jonathan Eusebio (Stunt Coordinator/Fight Choreographer) is mind-boggling. Then again, these two gentlemen are some of the best in the industry, members (Stahelski being a founder) of 87eleven Action Design.
If you are not familiar with 87eleven, then you need to be. These are the elite team when it comes to movie stunts, having worked on the likes of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow, Jurassic World, The Bourne Legacy, and of course the John Wick series. The way they are able to manipulate the human body to show not only athleticism but artistry is stunning to watch. This is exactly why more people should support Stand Up for Stunts because these incredibly talented and risk defying stunt teams need to be recognized by the Academy.
You don’t have to be an action nerd like me to appreciate the skills that are involved in Parabellum. The uniqueness of the sequences speak for themselves, but it’s in their entanglement with the character of John that makes the biggest impact. This isn’t just about superb action, even if that’s what makes it a quite enjoyable summer movie. This film is about what the lengths a man would go to in order to retain serenity. There is darkness in us all, and while some of us choose to live in the light, others don’t. The question posed in John Wick and concludes with Parabellum deals with the ones who left the dark to exist in the light. Writer Derek Kolstad created a character we can relate to, one that finds peace through outside love, and the driving force behind the third installment is his journey to salvation.
This is a John Wick film, so nothing is that easy. The progression works, the situations John finds himself in continues to deteriorate as well as the urgency of the action required to pass on to the next stage of survival. This is a no-holds-barred, everyone is out for blood kind of movie, and once you enter you cannot leave until the end. As the saying goes, every action has its consequence.
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum opens nationwide Friday, May 17.
Written by Lisa M Mejia
Images provided by Lionsgate