The latest entry in Keanu Reeve's action-packed franchise arrives in Lionsgate's John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum from director Chad Stahelski. Picking up immediately after the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2, the threequel finds Wick (Keanu Reeves) a marked man on the run as the High Table has declared Wick excommunicado. In hindsight, this means all of the benefits which were available to Wick as a hitman are longer accessible. Wick reaches out to old friends Sofia (Halle Berry) and "the Director" to help him out of his life-threatening situations.
Meanwhile, Wick's associates Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) must face the wrath of "The Adjudicator" (Asia Kate Dillon) for assisting Wick in the previous film. For help to achieve her goals, The Adjudicator hires deadly assassin Zero (Mark Dacascos), who has his own set of killers in training ready to kill at will.
Director Chad Stahelski wastes no time giving us a fantastic action set piece. Ten minutes into the movie, John has his first fight against an opponent in a public library. The battle is brutal and also very realistic. Part of what makes the John Wick movies so appealing is the authentic feel that former stunt man turned director Chad Stahelski provides in the action sequences. The characters run out of bullets and actually have to reload their firearms, as opposed to having a never-ending clip. There are also numerous inventive action sequences that involve horses, hot tubs, guns, knives, and hand to hand combat.
Portraying the character for the third time, Reeves seems to have a natural knack for the brooding personality the role requires. With very few words in the film, Reeves and his screenwriter, Derek Kolstad knows that the audience wants to see one thing, which is action. The rest of the cast all do fine in their roles; however, I would have to say that standouts for me were new characters Sofia (Halle Berry) and Zero (Mark Dacascos).
Halle Berry whose was never given a proper action franchise after her Bond Girl appearance, seventeen years ago is terrific as Sofia. With a take no prisoners approach, Berry's dog-loving Sofia has some great moments in the film, to showcase her acting skills. While Mark Dacascos whose work I've enjoyed in martial arts film for over twenty years shines as our primary villain. Dacascos, who is a skilled fighter in his own right, brings a demented swagger to the role of Zero and proves to be a formidable foe for Wick. Hopefully, this film opens up doors for both Berry & Dacascos.
John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum is a highly enjoyable action-fest; however, there are few things I would've tightened up. With a two hour plus run time, Derek Kolstad's script could've trimmed down some of the middle section in the film as it drags. I was hoping for some moments with Halle Berry's Sofia, as the character is that much fun to watch on screen.
With most franchises, by the time a series reaches the third film, the formula is routine, and in some cases, the final product is a letdown. However, with John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum, Reeves and his director have not only crafted a great action flick, but they've also given audiences one of the best threequels in recent memory.
Final Grade A-