On the way into the theater, I kept saying to the two friends I went with, “This is probably going to be bad.” The “this” here is John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. I saw the first John Wick movie. With that one, and this most recent installment, it devolves into a constant string of action set pieces. These are loosely centered on a plot involving the title character getting revenge on the people who killed his wife and dog. I am as Franciscan as the next Catholic when it comes to my love of animals, but the body counts that pile up in these films are a bit much. Spoiler alerts, I guess.
Starring Keanu Reeves as John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is the third installment in a franchise that apparently (and unfortunately) does not appear to be stopping. In this reviewers estimation, any movie, whether it is part of a series, a stand alone in that series, or just a one-off story, needs to be able to be its own entity without having to rely on its fellows. In the case of this film, the viewer is lost from the very beginning, unless you are a John Wick fan and are keeping up with this train wreck. Before getting going in earnest, though, I have to share a chucklesome moment I had as the movie started. The opening shot was New York, it was dark, and it was raining. In other words, it was a dark and stormy night!
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, as mentioned above, trades on its predecessor for you to have a clue as to what is going on, and this was apparent from the word go. John Wick has had a bounty placed on his head, but unless you have seen John Wick 2, you really will have no idea why. He did something, so he is on the run. In the process, he enlists the help of some Belorussians who are running some kind of underground ballet and wrestling training school. My perplexed eyeballs were treated to room after room of ballerinas and wrestlers under the watchful eye of armed, bearded thugs. Why? I have no idea, and I have my doubts as to whether the previous film would answer that question. He is also aided by Sofia (Halle Berry) who is somebody. Again, maybe covered in another film?
So I guess what John Wick is trying to accomplish in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is to have the bounty removed from him. There is some kind of assassins organization that he was a part of but then put the bounty on him. There are elders involved. There is a lady with a buzz cut. A lot of shooting. And Laurence Fishburne. The last, along with the line “Guns. Lots of guns,” sort of complete this non-science fiction Matrix knock-off. No matter what happens in this film, no matter how little meaningful (or what would have been helpful) dialog there is, just know that in scene after scene people are going to show up and John Wick is going to beat them up. My personal favorite was when he enlisted the help of a horse to do so. Yes, nothing says quality action film like Keanu Reeves on a horse being chased by henchmen on motorcycles through the streets of New York.
There were some vague references to religion in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but none of them were particularly interesting. This was just action schlock at its worst, and I was bored and praying for the end. But at least all the dogs lived.