To me, what's interesting and exciting about the John Wick franchise isn't its story, but the way it handles its action. Despite having watched these expertly choreographed, and surprisingly elegant, fight scenes take place over the past three films my desire to see more of them has not been diluted-- rather, it's had the opposite effect. I can't get enough of the way this team stages, directs, and edits their fights.
Parabellum continues the franchise's impressive level of quality. My fear, going into the film, was that it was going to fall into the same trap Die Harddid: where its hero became so ridiculously capable and unkillable that he was sliding down destroyed highways and getting thrown off balconies without any issue. Wick does fall into that trap a few times in this film. While I'm prone to give Wick more leeway (given that John Wick is set up as a super assassin, not as a run-of-the-mill NYPD cop like John McClane), there are moments where I was pulled out of the film due to its incredulity.
Yet, surprisingly, Parabellum manages to stay grounded for the majority of its runtime. Picking up just moments after we last left our titular assassin, the action starts immediately and does not let up. There is some interesting lore included (folks who are more interested in learning about the inner works of this assassin-driven underbelly of society will love these incorporations), but the film never seems bogged down with expository dialogue. In fact, I've been very impressed with how the Wick team has deepened these characters, their backstories, and the world in general -- it's always done with specificity, and they never beat the viewer over the head with info-dumps or constant exposition.
The question I found myself asking as I left the theater was pretty simple: how do they continue to up their game? How does this team keep this character exciting, this action propulsive, and this story so intriguing with more installments (and, given how the film ends, we can assume there will be more installments)? I don't quite know, to be honest.
I will be excited to see a Chapter 4 because everyone involved on this team, including Keanu Reeves, works hard to make sure these films maintain the level of quality viewers expect. I just hope the franchise doesn't pull a Die Hard.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM ★★★★
RELEASED ON 19 MAY 2019 || RATED R || 130 MIN
written by DEREK KOLSTAD, SHAY HATTEN, CHRIS COLLINS & MARC ABRAMS || directed by CHAD STAHLESKI