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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

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It’s fair to say, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Mr. Wick. Considering that the events of all 3 movies take place in just a few days of each other. However, we the viewers have had to wait a fair bit longer than that to discover what happens to John in Chapter 3. John Wick 3 – Parabellum is now available on DVD. The question now is, was it worth the wait?

Parabellum takes place a mere 10 minutes after the conclusion of John Wick 2. Having been labeled “excommunicado”, John is on the run with a 14 million dollar bounty on his head. Oh yeah, and as an added bonus, it’s going up by another million every hour! Things are further complicated by the arrival of an “Adjudicator” from the High Table, who severely reprimands anyone who aided John’s escape. FYI, the High Table are the ones in charge of all the assassins and everything happens under the table (get it!?). John must find a way to appease the High Table, all the while battling many many many people who would like to see him dead. Seriously, like, so many people, so so many killer peeps.

Since the beginning of this franchise, John Wick has been built on its amazingly realistic action sequences, and the third installment is no different. The best way I can describe it is that this film has a real weight to it. Every punch to the face, stab to the gut and knife to the brain caused me to recoil in pain. Even the simplest touches had a great impact! The fact that glass doesn’t shatter immediately on impact makes you acutely aware of the weight being thrown against it. As the DVD’s special features highlight, this is due to the amazing fight choreography and dedication of Keanu Reeves and the other actors to make this world of secret assassins feel as truly dangerous as possible. 

However this is a two-sided coin, because even though Keanu went to some insane lengths to make John Wick as “real” as possible, there is still only so much a human can do. I don’t, in anyway, mean to diminish his dedication. In fact ,the opposite. Part of what makes this Parabellum & the other John Wick movies stand out is their attention to detail and their grounding in reality when it comes to combat. As proven by the clip below:

However when the weight I mentioned disappears and CGI rears its ugly head, it’s extremely obvious. The two side-by-side causes a bit of momentary whiplash, pulling you out of the world you’ve been drawn into. With that said, the last thing I would want is more CGI in a John Wick film! It’s easy to be a critic, I don’t pretend to have the answers.

Now if you saw Parabellum in the cinema, I anticipate you probably left highly-entertained, but also slightly confused. From my point of view, John Wick 3 may have suffered a slight case of the “Fast & Furiouses”. Whenever you begin to expand a story beyond its initial intent, it can become tricky. For me, the third chapter of this franchise (and it does seem like there will be more John Wick to come) got a little bit confusing plot wise. The introduction of some new law and the world beyond New York gets a bit… weird. Thankfully, now that the DVD is out, the special features helped clarify a lot of my haziness. If you want to know more about the world of John Wick, the insights shared by director Chad Stahelski and the cast are really engaging. But I was using them more to clarify my confusion, which really isn’t their intent, is it? However, if I’m being honest, I’m okay with a little bit of bewilderment if it means I get to see John Wick riding down New York city streets… on a horse… battling ninjas! #worthit. 

Overall Parabellum builds well upon the previous films that came before it and provides the trademark action that makes the John Wick franchise so enjoyable. Grab the DVD and start your collection now, because it appears John Wick is forming into something far beyond a trilogy. More like its own universe, definitely a franchise and worth an all-weekend marathon.

-Josh Baty

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