John Wick has become a modern action movie icon after two phenomenal films, due to Screenwriter Derek Kolstad’s incredible world building and director Chad Stahelski’s stunning ability to showcase action. Now the third installment in John Wick’s saga is here, and it picks up right after the last film left off, with John Wick on the run after being made excommunicado for conducting business on Continental grounds.
And the film throws us straight into the action. Action that is once again stunning brought to life by Stahelski. He has consistently shown through his work on the Wick films that not only can he put together a brilliant and thrilling action scene, but he shoots it in such a way that it always feels so clean, yet doesn’t lose its incredible intensity. After the rise of quick cuts and handheld camera it feels nice to see someone actually allowing incredible action performers the chance to show what they can do, rather than manufacturing someone’s ability through editing, as Evan Schiff does a great job as the editor. Alongside Stahelski, Dan Laustsen returns as the cinematographer from John Wick: Chapter 2 and he continues that film’s rich visual flair that really brings something extra to these films visually.
Not only do the action sequences look fantastic, but Stahelski and Kolstad manage to make every single one feel unique and distinct. In fact if you were to watch all three films back to back you probably wouldn’t feel as though the action set pieces were similar. In John Wick 3 we have a sequence on horseback, sword fighting, the use of throwing knives, and several other brilliantly unique action sequences. And Keanu Reeves once again excellent in the role. There are a large number of these action sequences where it feels like Reeves has to be performing himself rather than a stunt double, because his face is so on display, and he never disappoints. His all round performance as Wick is still great, where we see more of a conflict within John this time as he is pushed to the edge and desperation.
Alongside him and the other returning cast, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne we have another healthy crop of new characters to build up the world. Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston play characters with past connections to John that help us learn more about the man his used to be, while Asia Kate Dillon, Jerome Flynn, and Saïd Taghmaoui enter as higher level members of this world. Mark Dacascos appears as the main assassins that John has to contend with throughout the film, with Jason Mantzoukas and basketball player Boban Marjanović appearing as other players in this world. Besides a bit of a ropey accent from Flynn the whole cast is great, with Dacascos really hamming it up the kind of character we haven’t really seen in the series so far.
And with so many additions building further into the lore we learn more about the running of the high table in this world, as well as visiting other institutions that operate under them, similar to how Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King does. Some of these other institutions show us more about Wick’s past and history, and these extra insights we get into John Wick’s life before he met his wife help create the conflict between him becoming more and more that man, the Baba Yaga, and the loving family man he became once he got out of the life that is at the heart of John Wick 3.
If you’re a fan of the previous two installments in the John Wick franchise then you are sure to enjoy John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum just as much, despite its incredible stupid name. It delivers on the action and world exactly as we hoped it would, and leaves room for a fourth film to come after. If you haven’t yet got into the John Wick series then I fully recommend them, because these insane and incredible action films are truly defining the way action will be done for the foreseeable future.