4 out of 5 stars
Violence is one of the most fun things to watch. Quentin Tarantino
The John Wick franchise has become a guilty pleasure. Chad Stahelski is a stunt coordinator who turned into a director on the right platform for his style of filmmaking. With visceral and raw characters, minimal dialogue and a masterfully choreographed violence sequences, he has managed to provide audiences with a world of assassins that has set a new precedence for this genre. Some could argue that it unnecessarily celebrates the darkest side of the human condition, but this view misses the intention of this type of film. As assassins destroy one another and upend the orderly world they inhabit, this is more of an exploration of actions, rules and consequences.
The third chapter of this franchise begins where the last episode ends with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) running through the streets of New York. After killing a member of the High Table, the governing body of an organised guild of assassins, in the Continental, the famed killer becomes a target for every hired gun in the city and around the world. His actions lead to a $14 million bounty being put on his head and he must find sanctuary to recover from his injuries and determine his next steps. Being held to a strict code of ethics within this underground network, most of his contacts and friends would be put in jeopardy if they assist him. John must put into motion a last-resort plan that will lead him to the ultimate redemption or may leave him at the mercy of the most barbarous and well trained killers in the world.
This basic premise has served this franchise well for the past few years and without changing the formula, Stahelski and Reeves provide an appropriate next step for this trilogy. What differentiates this episode from the previous films is the production team manage to ramp up the action sequences and pound the audience into believing in the justified violence. Not to say that character development does not occur, franchise regulars are complemented with exciting new cast members like Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston.
Between the bullets, knives and fighting scenes, the screenwriters manage to overlay a story of loyalty over the premise of honour amongst thieves that continue to work in these films. Showing the value of trust in others during times when only very few will put their lives and reputations on the line.
To think that there is order within this brutal narrative is fascinating to consider and proves that this world is reliant on order versus chaos. Trust and consequences during these trying times make an excellent platform for the charismatic styles of Berry, Huston, Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane. Even though each were under-utilised in this chapter, they provide the gravitas that complements Reeves silent, but a deadly leading role.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is meant for a select audience who appreciates the dark world and skilful filmmaking within this genre. For the fans of this franchise, this will satisfy everything that audiences have come to expect from Wick and company. The journey is entertaining, engaging and exhausting despite some lulls in the action, but these respites are merciful in light of the massive scale of each action sequence.
Even though the majority of fighting occurs amongst this band of assassins, this stylised violence will not be palpable for all audiences. Take this as a warning to those with sensitive dispositions and motivation for those who have embraced this series.
REEL DIALOGUE: A house divided
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. - Jesus (Mark 3:25)
When it comes to countries, businesses, families and even a league of assassins, division is usually their downfall. The true enemy of The Table becomes a battle within their ranks. Whether it is found in personal relationships, in the workplace atmosphere or with a connection with God it is critical to consider what is causing the division in all of these relationships and to rectify them before it moves beyond repair.
1. Is it wrong to have heroes? (John 3:16-17, Romans 12:17-21)
2. What does the Bible have to say about division? (Mark 3:24-26, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
3. Can mankind's hearts change from evil to good? (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21)