Film review: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Linda Marric enjoys this 'bonkers' thriller


Released in 2014, the first film in the John Wick saga was a stylish and somewhat understated neo-noir about a retired contract killer (Keanu Reeves) who comes out of retirement to settle some personal scores. Now in its third outing, the latest instalment of this much loved franchise sees stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski back at the helm in an exhilarating and utterly bonkers sequel. It's title, Parabellum is Latin for “prepare for war”.

The action takes place two days after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017).  We meet John Wick (Reeves) as he fights his way out of a fictitious version of New York  when a $14 million contract on his life makes him the target of the world's most ruthless assassins. Being declared “excommunicado” after killing a powerful mob boss, Wick seeks the help of former acquaintances to escape the “High Table”, a secret underworld organisation which rules over all manner of criminals.

Things take a turn for the absurd when John takes on hundreds of expert killers and chancers one by one, killing each one by using increasingly ludicrous and outlandish methods. Ending up in Casa Blanca, Morocco, Wick calls on former friend Sofia (Halle Berry in fine form) to help him out of a tight spot.

 Chad Stahelski's film lives halfway between reality and fantasy. With frequent nods to The Matrix ( 1999) or even The Raid (2011), John Wick 3 also presents a noticeable shift in tone from its earlier instalments. With futuristic looking,  heavily tattooed characters running an implausibly well-organised criminal underworld, there is a sense that the world of the first film has been left behind in favour of a far more outlandish one.

Reeves gives an impressive physical, if undeniably monosyllabic, performance, which is no less than we’ve come to expect from him. Elsewhere, Ian McShane (Deadwood, Hellboy) puts in a suitably understated performance as enigmatic hotel boss Mr Winston, while Reeves’s Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne impresses in a scenery-chewing turn as Bowery King.

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is not only hugely enjoyable, but it is also stunning to look at. With the help of an impressive team of writers,  far too many to mention here, Stahelski has devised a violent, yet undeniably engaging storyline which is likely to keep audiences in tenterhooks from start to finish.

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