by msbreviews - Is this helpful?
If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog :)
I don’t have a written review for each of the previous films, but I did watch both and thoroughly enjoyed them! John Wick (2014) is one of the best movies of that year and one of the best action films ever. However, John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) is a bit more convoluted and messy regarding its story and how it brings our protagonist back into the game, but the franchise’s outstandingly choreographed fight sequences still make it tremendously entertaining.
And it’s precisely the mind-blowing, bone-crushing, jaw-dropping, extraordinarily long and brutally choreographed action scenes that make John Wick one of the most badass characters in the history of cinema! The Academy has been looking for something new to make the Oscars more popular, and the creation of new categories has been their number one idea. Well, nothing fits the show better than Best Stunt Work. Obviously, franchises like this one or Mission: Impossible would become major successes at this award show. These two sagas are undeniably the most important and crucial for the survival of truly real action. What you see, it’s what you get.
Nowadays, viewers already have their eyes set to acknowledge everything as CGI or some sort of visual effect. I’ll never forget when I left my Mission: Impossible - Fallout screening and while getting out of the theater, a group of friends was laughing around saying something along the lines of “of course that scene is fake and this moment is CGI, how can you believe that?! You’re such a moron!” They were roasting one of their friends, thinking he was the dumb one when he was probably the one who was laughing the hardest. This definitely leaves me sad. Sad that people won’t realize how incredible movies like these are. How they genuinely work like crazy to provide the audience with real and authentic stunts.
Yes, it’s over-the-top. Yes, CGI and visual effects are still applied, but just to little details like bullets, blood, falls or knife throwing, which never distract you. And yes, it requires the audience to suspend their knowledge of physics in a few particular moments. But that’s the thing: if you’re pumped to watch a third film of a franchise, you’re a fan. You know what it’s about and what’s its tone. John Wick established itself in 2014 as a pure revenge story and an unbelievably realistic action movie, the closest we will ever get to an assassin origin tale. John Wick: Chapter Two deeply explored the institution that governs these assassins and all of the rules that they are bound by. It’s a bit messier than the first one, but it’s still a blast of entertainment.
Parabellum has the best of both installments. It has the best-choreographed action ever seen on a big screen and some of the most impressive camera work I’ve ever witnessed. In addition to this, the narrative makes more sense, and the characters decisions are logically or emotionally justifiable, contrary to the second film. The sound design is powerful, and the cinematography plus the set design look stunning. I would still argue that the pacing could have been better controlled. The transitions between long action sequences and the respective pauses to move the plot forward aren’t always smooth. Some comedy bits that I don’t think they really belong in this saga were added, and while some work just fine, others really don’t fit this world.
Besides that, I don’t really have much to complain about. The cast is absolutely impeccable. Keanu Reeves is battling with Tom Cruise for the biggest action movie star alive. While Cruise puts his life more in risk by performing especially dangerous stunts, Keanu has the resiliency and agility of a beast, providing us with high-speed and hard-to-do fight sequences. Halle Berry (Sofia) is one hell of a surprise! I had no idea she was (still) capable of moving as she does in this film. The stunts that she performs are crazily good! Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King), Ian McShane (Winston) and Lance Reddick (Charon) also have their own shining moments, but Sofia‘s dogs are deadly cute, and they steal the show.
Regarding the action stunts, they’re all pretty memorable. From a throwback to Chapter Two‘s mirror room to an astonishingly riveting chasing scene through the streets of New York, everything Chad Stahelski and his talented crew throw at the audience is absolutely perfect. I also love how the final act resembles the experience of playing a videogame. You know when you have several levels, each of them with their respective boss, but the final boss is at the top of them all? It’s kind of like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when Link has to eliminate an enemy in each floor in order to move up to the next one until he reaches Ganondorf. It might be the must nonsensical analogy that I have, but it’s what my memory triggered. In the end, there are tons of set pieces for everyone to enjoy.
All in all, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is everything fans of this franchise desired: brutal, bloody, long, loud and beautifully-choreographed fight sequences, accompanied by a decent story that explored even more the assassins’ world. Chad Stahelski is a master filmmaker, who knows how an action movie should be filmed. There are no sloppy editing or quick cuts here. Only extensive one-take scenes, filled with outstanding stunt work from a phenomenal cast. Keanu Reeves is one of the most incredible action film stars ever and Halle Berry surprises with her physical abilities. With better control of its pacing and tone (and a bit less defiance of physics), this could have easily been the best action movie of the century. “One of the best” it’s still one hell of a tagline.