'John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum' review

'John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum' review

The John Wick franchise is that rare breed of modern revenge thrillers which rely on the good-old formula of being no-nonsense in their subject matter. There is no unnecessary exposition, no pointless character drama; there is only the one who seeks revenge and those unlucky or foolish enough to be in their path. John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum continues this tradition with absolute faithfulness and is all the better for it. If only the CBFC had not gone and made arbitrary cuts to the film, it would be a perfect masterpiece, but more on that later.

The story picks up right after John Wick: Chapter 2. Jonathan Wick (Keanu Reeves) is deemed excommunicado from The Continental for killing Santino D'Antonio, a member of the shadowy High Table on the hotel grounds. With one hour before every assassin in the world comes for his head and the $14 million bounty on it, John must literally kill his way out of the city.

John Wick is one of those rare franchises which starts off strong and only keeps the momentum going as more entries fall into them. There is constant room for improvement in franchises such as this, but straightforward plotlines of the films and an immense dedication to deliver on the action promised by the plot is both realised and delivered in John Wick.

Keanu Reeves’s John Wick lets go even more in Parabellum, quickly cementing why he was called Baba Yaga before his retirement. Chased by everyone who wants his head and with nowhere to go but down, Wick unfurls even more skills in his arsenal and employs them with merciless precision. If you thought you wanted to see the Boogeyman kill three men with a pencil, you’re not even prepared for the multitude of ways John kills those who come after him. On the other hand, we have Sofia (Halle Berry), someone you could describe as ‘if John Wick was a woman’. It may seem insulting, but that is essentially who Sofia is – complete with the desire to protect someone she loves and having no patience for anyone who would dare hurt her dogs. She could use some more fleshing out, perhaps in a John Wick 4?

John Wick 3 borrows its action beats heavily from other genres and revenge thrillers that have come before it. Most notable among them are films that involve ninjas like Zero (Mark Dacascos), a master of tricks, espionage and silent assassination. Also joining him are YayanRuhian andCecepArif Rahman from The Raid films (another excellent example of the action revenge genre).

The John Wick franchise is popular for its use of camerawork, something that does not disappoint in Parabellum. Like the previous entries, most of the action relies exclusively on long takes, which provide an unfiltered, adrenaline-heavy view of the brutally visceral fights and chases. One sequence is lifted directly off the South Korean revenge thriller The Villainess, complete with its insanely long take and masterfully edited cuts. Still, that is but one sequence and the rest of the film is replete with examples that should be held as the upper strata on how to do a proper action film.

If the film has any flaws, they are not inherent to it – but are rather imposed by the CBFC, which decided to become a sanskari censor for this film. For no apparent reason, scenes involving constant murdering and literally blowing peoples’ heads off are okay, but scenes which have actual narrative impact are cut off. This being a revenge movie, one would assume scenes which show people having revenge for wrongs done to them or their dogs would be important, but not to the CBFC. If there ever was a janky moral compass, this movie would be an example. The cuts break the narrative flow and disrupt what is otherwise a smooth-flowing river. It’s a shame, for the film does suffer for it.

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum offers a package deal of action and depth - peeling back more and more layers of the lore and upping the stakes to 11 for John and everyone associated with him in what is easily the best entry of the franchise.