- 28 May 19
Pulp franchise ups the ante with brilliantly choreographed fights.
In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Keanu Reeves was asked the impossible question, “What do you think happens when we die?” The audience laughed. What an absurd question to throw at a movie star. But Reeves gave what is possibly the one correct and universally true answer, responding, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”
In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, no-one loves anyone. This is an amoral world ruled by the High Table – a shadowy organisation of secret killers – and though Reeves’ character never kills innocents, he doesn’t spare the guilty, either. As Wick shoots at least 30 characters in the head at close range, gouges out a couple of eyeballs and axes somebody in the skull, it’s clear he’s not thinking of who will miss his victims. Chapter 3 picks up where Chapter 2 left off. Once-retired assassin Wick has been excommunicated by the High Table and there’s a bounty on his head, attracting killers from across the land. What follows is a two-hour onslaught of hyper-choreographed fight scenes, combining martial arts, gun play, motorcycle chases, attack dogs, and Russian ballet. If you’re a fan of (literally) breakneck action, excessive violence and the elaborate beauty of combat choreography, John Wick 3 will be the most fun you’ve had since The Raid.
Director Chad Stahelski, cinematographer Dan Laustsen and production designer Kevin Kavanaugh are a formidable team. They set long fight sequences in fluorescent-lit, hall-of-mirrors style lairs; the winding streets and elaborately decorated buildings of Morocco; a stable where John Wick manages to – wait for it – weaponise horses; and of course, the sophisticated interior of the Continental Hotel.
But it’s Reeves’ utter commitment that stabilises the whole film. He brings a coherence to the action, a zen mien to the excess, and delivers his lines in a winningly deadpan style. He’s given no dramatic heft or character development to work with, which is a shame, and the film is 15 minutes too long, but that’s what Chapter 3 is: a deliberately OTT slice of vicious, entertaining pulp.