Oh it’s so good to be doing this again and on a film that has been so much looked forward to since its announcement. No it’s not the next My Little Pony film! That’s for next week….. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!
For those of you who already know the John Wick series, you would also be awaiting the return of the hitman with the knack for revenge for those who would murder a puppy left by his deceased wife. In what became a welcome surprise, the original John Wick film was just a straight up action film starring Keanu Reeves who amazed us all with long action sequences that took your breath away.
It led of course to John Wick 2, where his past actions caught up with him and in honouring a favour for a member of the elite “High Table” who runs the assassination business in the world, he also became public enemy number one.
Along the way, we have been introduced to a wide range of excellent side characters; First, Jimmy, a cop who would turn a blind eye when needed to “disturbances”. We also met Winston, the happy manager of the Continental hotel in New York where all killers go to relax, safe in the knowledge that no business could be conducted and they could sleep at night. Who could forget Laurence Fishburne’s fine turn as the “Bowery King” whom John sought out at a major time of need by being hidden by a homeless man when on the run? Truth be told, there are quite a number of performances which have been just excellent, even in so minor a role. You just were carried along for the awesome ride.
So we come to the events of John Wick 3: Parabellum, leading immediately after the events of John Wick 2. John of course, on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head with no access to the resources he used to employ and everyone out to kill him for his crime against the “High Table.” As Winston again played by Ian McShane puts it; “I’d say the odds are about even.” The film’s main theme is living with “consequences” as it reminds us time and time again being the theme of all that takes place. Granted these consequences are worse than having that curry at the local dodgy takeaway, but nevertheless it does labour the point at times.
What follows on with the previous films’ consequences is an impressive array of events of John literally fighting for his life against anyone who wants the monies in the back account. From securing services just before Wick’s imposed excommunicado, to fighting bad guys with horses, it’s pretty much impressive the fight choreography that goes on throughout. A standout fighting performance has to go to Halle Berry, who along with her own dogs (very talented too I must say!) steal a part of the film with some damned impressive scenes. Some of which it must be said, will be leaving you holding your groin and wincing a little if you happen to be a guy!
Another surprise appearance was by Anjelica Huston who played Wick’s one-time I would like to say, “mentor” and director of a very brutal ballet school. Yeah, you never imagine that sentence ever being uttered, did you?
We see the return of various characters who while not in the film overall that much, do indeed still give it their best in every scene. The story has always been so simple in the John Wick series but that’s not a detriment here. Far from it, it’s the simple premise to allow us all to see the mayhem that takes place. We’re never going to get lost in intricate details and plot twists, but occasionally there is something which will surprise. The variety of locations being introduced is welcome as John takes a trip out of New York to try and get out of his ever more ridiculous situation. It just involves wandering the desert until he’s almost dead that’s all….
This film like most things, of course is not without its flaws.
There are points towards the end of the film where the action actually goes on a little too long and is rather laboured. I know, an action film with too much action? I must be high! But seriously, there is a whole fight sequence in a glass room which could easily have been trimmed down or removed and the film wouldn’t have been poorer for it. The use of CGI is minimal thankfully given one bike scene, the CGI is certainly clearly present and in fact is quite poorly done. It certainly distracted from the excellent action only just witnessed before hand. It must also be said that Mark Dacascos’ character was a bit of a wet sponge and was one of the weaker points of the film sadly.
The one thing, which may or may not be considered a spoiler here so take it as you find it, is that this film actually ends up being one giant piece of sequel bait. Yep, they have so set it up for John Wick: Chapter 4 and perhaps in a way which may not be entirely welcome. But the promise of seeing more of this world and people who play the deadly games within? Count me in for sure!
For anyone who hasn’t watched the John Wick series previously, there’s not really a way to come into this without knowing the other two for certain context (despite this being simple like a dot to dot that actually just ends up being one single line) so go back and watch the first one at least before deciding if this would be right for you.
If you’re a fan of the series so far and hope that the quality doesn’t drop here, you won’t be disappointed. It’s still an excellent thrill ride with so many casualties you will just wonder exactly how John Wick isn’t on trial in the Hague for mass murder. The camerawork is impressive, the fights are fantastic, very few poor performances, it will light your wick for sure. A pleasure to see you again, Mr. Wick. Come back again soon…..