‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ Review: Keanu Reeves Returns For The Best And Bloodiest Film In The Franchise Yet

John Wick Keanu Reeves Dwayne Johnson Hobbs & Shaw

John Wick proves itself as one of the rare franchises that gets better with each installment as Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves deliver what is easily the best film in the series yet with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Keanu Reeves once again returns as the fearsome assassin, along with Chad Stahelski who returns to direct after co-directing the first installment with David Leitch and helming the sequel solo. Screenwriter David Kolstad, who wrote both the first John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 also returned to script the third installment.

As expected, Parabellum picks up immediately in the aftermath of Chapter 2, as the story follows John as he goes up against the High Table and attempts to escape from New York now that he is officially excommunicado from The Continental with a $14 million contract on his head. Rather than kicking things off with a bang, John Wick: Chapter 3 begins quietly as it focuses on tension – which is something indicative of the rest of the film — and features a desperate John acquiring what he needs in order to make his escape from the city during his one-hour grace period granted to him at the end of the last film.

However, once the action does begin, Stahelski and Reeves continue to impress with fresh and inventive action sequences as each one builds on top of the last. Parabellum takes the best parts of the action from the first John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 and combines them to give us the best hand to hand combat and the best gun-fu we’ve seen in the franchise yet. Not only that, but the third installment also adds new dimensions and layers to the action by incorporating not just dogs, but horses into the mix as well, which give way to a chase unlike any we’ve seen in a John Wick movie so far.

What might be the most refreshing part of the entire film is an action sequence in Morocco that is much less stylized than what we’ve come to know from the neo-noir action thriller franchise. Instead, Stahelski strips the movie down for a departure that is raw and maybe the most vicious and brutal action sequence the film series has delivered yet. Morocco also features some interesting world-building, which is something Chapter 3 does exceptionally well.

Halle Berry joins the hit-franchise as Sofia, who has a past with John Wick. Her performance is fine, though nothing special. But it’s through Sofia, as well as some other aspects and new characters in the film, that we’re given a much deeper insight into who John is more than him just being the Baba Yaga. We also get to learn a bit about his backstory as well as a glimpse at where he comes from. The most impressive thing about this is how Stahelski and Kolstad manage to explore John’s past and pull back the curtain some while still maintaining much of the mystique around his world, which helps keep it just as intriguing as it has been in the previous two films. It’s a delicate balance but Parabellum gives us just enough that John Wick himself feels much more developed than ever before, which makes the twists and turns all the more satisfying.

Parabellum stands out as not only the film with the strongest action and character development in the franchise, but this third chapter has the strongest plot of the three as well. While it may not work on its own without the other two films, John Wick: Chapter 3 finds new ways to keep the story from getting tiresome, resetting the stage with each act and giving John smaller but still interesting challenges to overcome while he attempts to achieve his overall goal. This makes for a much richer and meatier story compared to the first and second films.

Although they may have pushed the plausibility with this one a little too far, even for a John Wick movie, the film manages to resolve the conflict in a very satisfying fashion after an exhilarating finale. The third act may become a little exhausting at some points, but it also gives you moments to breathe. This helps refresh you for each layer of the film’s final action sequences until Parabellum reaches its very video game-esque and fantastic big bad boss fight with Mark Dacascos, who is unquestionably the most entertaining villain the series has had yet.

Overall, John Wick: Chapter 3 feels more mature than previous entries in the franchise. It’s as if the filmmakers were taking the subject matter a bit more seriously this time around. While this heavier tone could have gotten exhausting rather quickly given many of the film’s major action scenes are quite spaced out, Parabellum balances things out by dialing up the humor, delivering far more laughs than the first two films along with the series’ best action sequences yet. It’s refreshing to see that in an entertainment landscape oversaturated by superheroes, we don’t need visual effects to still make for an incredible action film at the movies.

Rating: 9/10

Michael Mistroff

Michael Mistroff

News Editor, Film/TV Reporter at Heroic Hollywood.