Film Review – JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM

Film Poster: John Wick 3

Film Poster: John Wick 3

John Wick triumphs. Thanos killed billions but they all came back! With Wick they stay dead. Far superior and better than ENDGAME and no nods to cute butts.

When I watch a horror movie I root for the villain when a victim is dumb. With horror movies the true question that presents itself for the viewer is: If it was me in this horrific situation, what would I do? If I  escaped and my friend didn’t, would I go back for her?
Perhaps it depends on how one defines “friend.”

With movies like JOHN WICK, Wick is our stand-in. But I always wonder about the guys coming up against him. After Wick kills 40 men with several bullets into their heads, why does the 41st guy go in? And then the 42nd guy. They too, like the dumb horror victim who drops their gun while running away from a raving maniac, deserve to die. Unless, of course, the last man standing over Wick’s body gets the  $14 million contract. Okay, then play the odds  – Dirty Harry-style – That Wick is out of bullets.

The sheer brilliance of CHAPTER 3 is the inventive ways Wick kills. The opening fight scene had me screaming and yelling at the screen. The action sequences and fight choreography are terrific and truly the state of the art. Nothing currently on screens can compare with the ingenuity and artistry that CHAPTER 3 delivers.

Film Image: John Wick 3

Film Image: John Wick 3

The horse kicking scene is genius.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, CHAPTER 3 not only raises the stakes, it elevates the complex fight sequences to art. And in an era where a franchise is an actor’s Golden Ticket or Golden Handcuffs, Keanu Reeves, who will always be Neo, has done what George Clooney and Brad Pitt, for all their fame, have not accomplished, two defining franchise roles.

Like the number of men who walked on the moon (12), this is a very small club.

As John Wick, Reeves is all in. He’s committed and there is no “slashing his wrists” with the demands of the role. Though his costumer needs to pay closer attention to the way his pants fit when shown from behind.

CHAPTER 3 opens with Wick running through New York, just where we last left him. He doesn’t have much time on the ticking clock. Of course, it’s raining, really raining and Wick is umbrella-less. Wick, as you all know, has been deemed “excommunicado” by the High Table. And assassins are everywhere just waiting for the jump-off to be called.

The New York sanctuary, the Continental Hotel, can no longer protect Wick from being killed since he broke the cardinal rule of the assassin playbook: he killed someone in the hotel.

Much of Wick World has origins in religious iconography.  First, the term, “excommunicado.” During the Middle Ages, excommunication by the Catholic Church was a powerful way of making a person realize his or her immortal soul was doomed. The threat of excommunication damned someone as long as they lived.

Again, the John Wick mythology appropriates the medieval meaning of “sanctuary.” The concept of sanctuary predates Christianity, going back as far as Greek and Roman temples that offered protection to fugitives. Early Christian churches competed with these pagan temples by offering their own protections, and by the end of the 4th century, sanctuary was a part of Roman imperial law. If a person murdered someone and then ran to the church to claim sanctuary, no one could could come in and harm, arrest or remove him or her for punishment.

By now John Wick is a legend in the crowded assassin world and has earned the sobriquet “Baba Yaga” which means The Boogeyman. 

Wick has two powerful trinkets – a rosary and a crucifix – that demand attention be paid. He goes to see The Director (Angelica Houston), the leader of the Ruska Roma tribe. She found the orphaned John Wick and trained him to become an assassin. Whatever the meaning of the crucifix he offers her, Wick pays a heavy painful NYXIUM price – and she then agrees to help him get to Morocco, where the Grand Poobah of the High Table – The Elder – holds court.Wick’s game plan is to ask forgiveness because only The Elder  can reverse a decision made by the High Table. 

There is a Continental Hotel in every major city and the one owned and managed in Casablanca is former friend Sofia (Halle Berry), who is not at all happy to see Wick. They have, shall we say, “history”. Even though he is now a widower, apparently they had a really bad falling out. There is no time for romance. But, with a little coaxing and Wick waving her marker, Sofia agrees to introduce him to a man who might help him get an audience with the desert-dwelling overlord of the High Table.

According to John Wick hagiography, a marker is essentially an amulet with a bloody fingerprint inside. If someone gives their amulet away for a favor, it means that they are making a blood oath to do any task the person asks of them in the future. So, if Sofia helps Wick, he will give her back her marker. I think.

Back in New York, The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), representing the High Table’s Elder, turns up to evaluate John Wick’s offense and escape. Her carefully orchestrated outfits and cold stare designate her as someone who would have risen to the rank of SS-Obersturmführer easily. The Adjudicator’s job is to assess who helped Wick and dole out Inquisition-Style punishment. For Winston (Ian MacShane), The Adjudicator demands he step down and she declares the “deconsecration“of the Continental.

As with the rule of “sanctuary”, Wick World uses the religious term “Deconsecration.” Deconsecration is the act of removing a religious blessing from something that had been previously consecrated by a minister or priest of that religion. The practice is usually performed on churches to be rendered to non-religious use or demolished.

For the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and The Director, the punishments are bloody and cruel.

Wick, led into the desert without water or a hat, is found barely alive by The Elder and, for nullifying the “excommunicado” decree, has to pay a Yakuza tariff. Wick is ordered by The Elder to kill Winston.

Returning to New York, The Adjudicator has given the task of finding Wick to an assassin, Zero (Mark Dacascos). Acknowledging all that was previously said about the fame of John Wick, Zero is in awe of Wick. He knows all of Wick’s greatest hits. Zero is rightfully thrilled when he gets the chance to fight his idol. Zero is younger, faster and stronger. Most important, Zero wants the honor of killing John Wick.

CHAPTER 3 delves further into Wick World and the secret society of assassins under the obligations of the High Table. This is a world where a gold coin can buy you a cup of coffee or a Tom Ford suit. 

CHAPTER 3 is a stunt fighting ballet and you cannot watch it without being awed by the skill, ingenuity and hard work of the cast, especially Jonathan Eusebio, the fight choreographer, Dan Laustsen, the cinematographer, and Chad Stahelski, The Director. Stahelski joins the  A List Club of directors and he rightly deserves all the praise for bringing heightened thrills to CHAPTER 3. Stahelski has given movie fans a very exciting action film that has raised the body count stakes. What will the 25th James Bond film do to top the ruthless John Wick with his “license to slaughter”?

With JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 announced, the writers – and there are plenty of them – have a fan base waiting to go deeper into the rules assassins must follow and the complicated ethics that demand obedience. Based on characters created by Derek Kolstad, CHAPTER 3’s screenwriters are Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams.

Finally, wIth Winston holding on to The Continental, how will Wick avoid another death sentence by not carrying out his oath to The Elder?

Share

About Victoria Alexander

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com. For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-3571/ Contributing to: FilmsInReview: http://www.filmsinreview.com FilmFestivalToday: http://www.filmfestivaltoday.com Las Vegas Informer Group: LVInformer.com Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org
This entry was posted in Articles, Film Reviews, Victoria Alexander and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

*