JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARRABELLUM, AKA KEANU REEVES WEARS A SHARP SUIT AND KILLS AN ABSOLUTE FUCKTON OF PEOPLE. I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, IF THEY MAKE ANY MORE OF THESE HE’S GOING TO MURDER A SMALL COUNTRY’S WORTH OF PEOPLE I’M NOT KIDDING.
Look, it doesn’t fit anywhere near as well on a poster, but it’s a far more representative picture of the film.
There’s a small clutch of films that whenever I watch them I have the urge to drop a solid chunk of money on a quality suit, neaten my hair and beard and then, well, walk around I guess? I’ve never gotten that far in the planning stage. Mostly it’s the Bond films, but I think I have to add the Wick saga to that. In RPG terms, It’s not quite Feng Shui: The Movie (That title will forever and always belong to the frankly unbeatable brilliance of Big Trouble in Little China), but if you aren’t using that system to represent this world, you’re doing this wrong. Weapons are shown in almost fetishistic detail, perfect for that game, and there’s some incredible skill on display in their use – while there’s the odd quick cut, for the most part it’s long takes of people messing each other up in increasingly brutal, and occasionally ridiculous ways and the stunt work is frequently jaw dropping in it’s skill and execution.
Told you. That’s damn sharp.
Keanu Reeves returns in the title role as the former hit-man dragged back into the life, and he certainly wears a suit well. I’m not sure I’ve seen one worn with such style since Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer, one of the few films able to match this one for sheer scope of carnage. Halle Berry isn’t in it as much as you’d expect given her prominence in publicity and Laurence Fishburne appears to be having more fun than you at all times. He has some competition on that front from Mark Dacascos who seems to be enjoying himself so much I wouldn’t be at all shocked if he’d taken the part for free. (A harsher critic could say that being in a big budget film that’s actually seen in cinemas might also be a factor, but I’m not that person.)
There’s the odd burst of ‘Hey, it’s that guy!” with Brooklyn 9-9’s Detective Pimento and Bronn from Game of Thrones appearing. At least I thought it was Bronn, the accent he was using made it difficult to tell without a mid film visit to IMBD and my phone remained firmly turned off during the film. I’m a sucker for a good arming montage (My favorite still being the frankly hilarious one in Schwarzenegger’s Commando) and this one has a doozy, complete with a cheerful nod to Reeve’s past work that I won’t spoil. It’s not quite the equal of John Wick Chapter 2’s, but what’s the point in exactly repeating things?
Holy shit, I’m on a horse!
We start with Reeves in serious trouble, and the amount he’s in only increases as the film goes on. Points to the writers for upping the scale of things, as the film moves around sharply, with Wick busily proceeding to chop, stab, shoot and punch his way through an awful lot of New York, with one early kill aided by a copy of Dante’s Inferno. I can picture the writers room high as kites on sugar, “So we’ve just had Wick have a gunfight in a stable, so what if he gets into a gunfight while riding a horse, against people on motorbikes? Oh, and later can he ride a motorbike and get into a sword-fight against a bunch of other people on motorbikes?” I can practically hear the high-fives as I type this.
Our guide to this world and it’s rules and regulations is Winston (Ian McShane), who has a tone and gravitas in his voice that not only will I buy whatever he’s selling, but I’ll buy immediately and thus get the free set of steak knives. For a criminal organization it’s incredibly well structured, with a complex set of rules and guidelines. The near mystical gold coins as payment, bloody thumbprints in lockets to signify favors owed and adjudicators to ensure the laws are held to. It’s the sort of nonsense that you’d expect to find in a game of Dungeons and Dragons and would seem utterly ludicrous but given how seriously everyone takes it, it works.
Also, a very sharp coat there.
The increasing scope across the three films thus far has been slowly allowed to reveal itself, which is, to me, a far more elegant way to do things than a film 1 info dump. Sure, I do occasionally wonder at the sheer scale of things, or smaller questions such as just how many people in New York belong to this group of assassins and how Wick hasn’t yet murdered them all in the previous films. I’m more than aware of New Yorker’s reputation for giving no fucks whatsoever, but I’m fairly sure that were this many bodies dropping on this regular a basis in public places that someone would be saying something, right?
Expanding the scope and mythology of your universe can be tricky. The Empire Strikes Back did it well, the Matrix sequels less so. In fairness, I’m not sure on that – I saw both the Matrix sequels at midnight premieres back in the day and haven’t gone back since. I left them angry. Not as angry as after the second Hobbit film, but that’s a different story. Mostly when I remember those two films I think back to my early to mid 20’s bullshit and how much of a twat I could be and I’m really not proud of that. It took me a long time to work past that and I still quake with shame at some of my actions. I can’t take them back, but at least I can learn from them and hopefully not repeat them. On the bright side, it’s around that time I finally came clean, and became an open and proud Iron Maiden fan, as opposed to treating them as a long time guilty pleasure. So, that’s something good and up the Irons! Getting back on topic…
If you know what you’re in for, you’ll love this. If you don’t want to see Reeves dressed well and murdering a whole lot of people with some incredible skill, then this might not be the film series for you. A 4th film has already been announced, and if it hadn’t been the films end would have all but confirmed that. In any case, I can’t wait for the next one and I’m sorely tempted to go back and see this one again. Possibly while wearing a suit…
4 and a half fancy shotguns out of five.