There is something gratifying about the John Wick series of films. Stunt director-turned-director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad, who have been with the series along with the star, Keanu Reeves, pull out all the stops in the latest chapter, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
The screenplay written by Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams, based on Kolstad’s story sees Parabellum picking up shortly after the events of John Wick 2, which saw a bounty placed on Wick’s head following the assassination of a member of the High Table.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum features several returning characters, including series’ favorites Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick), the caretakers of the Continental – New York. Laurence Fishburne also returns as the Bowery King, who continues to issue vague truths about the world that surrounds our characters.
Interestingly, Parabellum sees John Wick take refuge first in a library featuring an amazing stunt sequence as he outruns his pursuers. If you thought that his ability to kill a person with just a pencil was fascinating lore for the character, let me just say you’re in for a treat in this signature sequence.
Wick eventually catches up with the Director (Angelica Huston) in a rather subdued, but equally powerful role. Like many elements of the John Wick series, the Director is much more than meets the eye. One is quick to note on the marquee adorning the Director’s show house is “A Tale of Two Wolves” while the Director is composing a ballet as if it were an everyday occurrence, but is something much more. It is here where Wick seeks passage for ultimate salvation and forgiveness for his sins.
His travels lead him to Morocco and in to the hands of the assassin Sofia (Halle Berry). Berry’s performance is a wink at her Jinx character from Die Another Day. Her athleticism is magnificent while her brawn is an equal match for Wick’s “Boogeyman” reflexes.
As Wick seeks forgiveness, the High Table seeks to contain the damages done by Wick’s acts on the Continental grounds. This is left in the hands of the severely icy Asia Kate Dillon as the Adjudicator. Her performance is flawless, as is the character. There is no trace of remorse as she asks those who helped Wick escape in Chapter 2 to take responsibility for their acts.
There is a second reason for this side thread in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but to share the details here would be to give away pivotal points of the story. As such, all I will say is that the actions have consequences, a theme that has been present since the first film, but really comes into focus in this story.
As a part of the Adjudicator’s efforts, she places Wick’s bounty with Zero played by Mark Dacascos whose own fights with Wick are a showcase for Parabellum as Dacascos’s martial arts training comes in handy. There is a colorful cynicism about the banter between Zero and Wick. They don’t exactly egg each other on, as much as they challenge one another.
Where the first John Wick introduced us to a character that was larger than life, John Wick 2 built on the subversive world that the characters and their code inhabited. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum takes a page from neo noir and blends it with an almost fetishistic love for the Roman war culture as it expertly extends that world with characters who make an already rich world even richer.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is exquisite entertainment that should be experienced on the biggest screen with the best sound. You won’t regret it.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is rated R and is in theaters everywhere on May 17.