After two majorly successful films that seemed to reinvigorate an overwhelmingly stale genre, John Wick returns to theaters guns blazing and as adrenaline fueled as ever.
John wick 3 is quite unabashedly a nonstop murder festival of gunfights and brutal deaths. It’s basically John against the world as he fights for his life among a plethora of lethal, highly trained assassins. Everywhere he turns, there’s somebody there to kill him.
The film humorously basks in its own extremities, mainly the overindulgence of violence and gore. John Wick uses repetition and awkward pauses in its fight scenes to comical effect, making you laugh at the most gruesome of bloody kills. In one sequence John kills a man by slamming a book into his jaw (before nicely setting the book back on its shelf); in other he throws about half a dozen throwing knives into the chest, back, and head of a guy. My personal favorite is when John gets repeatedly tossed through glass shelving time and time again for a solid minute. I took this self-aware gluttony of violence as a wink wink nudge nudge to the over-the-top, ridiculous nature of action blockbusters.
At the start of the movie I found some of the violence so extreme that it was hard to look at without wincing or briefly covering my eyes. However, by the end of the picture I was completely desensitized to the gore.
But that’s not what makes this film franchise unique. No, what makes John Wick stand out as a series is because it hosts some of the most well-choreographed and specific action ever put to the screen. A lot of fight scenes are made exciting and intense in editing, whereas Wick keeps the momentum going purely off the fluent movements of the actors. It’s no surprise that a lot of the actors went through extensive martial arts/firearm training to prepare for this flick.
The story itself, while simple enough, is by this point a little irrelevant and inconsequential. Characters come and go a little too haphazardly, and the intricacies of this world of assassins is going from interestingly complex to borderline convoluted. Heck, Halle Berry was integral to the progression of the movie for about ten minutes, then she disappears and we never see her again.
Therefore, I think by its own admission John Wick 3 is narratively the weakest link in the franchise. The plot has grown too big for its own britches, and I’d be lying if I said this plot wasn’t stretched and pulled like taffy. I know the story isn’t exactly why most of us go to see these movies, but I felt the arch they were building for John was plenty entertaining and important. To see it get maltreatment in this installment was a tad disappointing. Nevertheless, it doesn’t spoil the enjoyable experience of watching John cut, punch, and shoot his way through his enemies.
Essentially, this is sequel fodder to set up for another potentially more climatic showdown between John and the powers that be. Even the subtitle for the film, Parabellum, gives it away. Translating from Latin to: prepare for war. And John Wick 3 certainly embodies that sentiment, as we the audience are certainly now primed for all-out war. So long as Wick has more tricks up its sleeve to keep the story from stagnating and the action from getting tedious.