Follow Us on Twitter

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum - DVD Review

John Wick 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE third instalment in the John Wick franchise is a wildly entertaining action epic that embraces its own ridiculousness to rip-roaring effect.

Breathless, relentless, punishing, yet stylish, Chad Stahelski’s third entry hits the ground literally running and barely allows you to stop to catch breath. And yet, it also manages to expand the world that its central character inhabits, while bringing in a new set of fascinating players.

Picking up mere seconds from where the the second film left off, the film finds Keanu Reeves’ hero in a rain-swept New York, looking to patch himself up and searching for unlikely allies – or unpaid markers.

Yet having been rendered ‘ex-communicado’ by Ian McShane’s hotel manager Winston, for gunning down a member of the High Table, help is in short supply. When it comes, it comes with a price. And it eventually sends Wick to Casablanca, where he enlists an old colleague (Halle Berry) to set up a meeting that may offer him an unlikely second chance.

For a film so reliant on action, it’s actually quite reassuring to find that there is still a wider plot, which remains worth exploring. Stahelski ensures that the John Wick universe is vast and populated by wicked characters, dropping in the odd double cross and deception that ensures the main characters are put through the emotional wringer.

And while that emotional investment is still minimal at best, that which does exist enables the film, as a whole, to avoid suffering from action fatigue – even though it flirts with doing so on several occasions.

Hence, the likes of McShane, Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, Asia Kate Dillon (as a smug, death-dealing Adjudicator) and Mark Dacascos (as Wick’s main nemesis), all get [limited] time to make their mark as characters, enhancing the personality of the film beyond the action sequences.

That being said, the main reason for seeing any John Wick film at this stage is seeing just how gloriously OTT things can become. And former stuntman-turned-director Stahelski works overtime to ensure that the carnage is striking.

An early fight in a library, involving a 7ft opponent and a book, sets the tone and is wonderfully, wickedly choreographed, as is the bravura knife fight that follows it, the horse chase, the Casablanca shoot-out (complete with attack dogs) and the climax involving veterans from another action masterpiece, The Raid.

Admittedly, some of the kills and gun-worship flirt with being voyeuristic, and even pornographic – which if viewed in that sense can create a troubling side issue for the film to contend with (it does play to America’s passion for fire-arms, which all too often reveal themselves with deadly consequences).

But for those willing to embrace the escapist absurdity and balletic beauty of what unfolds, John Wick 3 is a kick-ass blast that fully warrants both the success it continues to enjoy, the iconic action status it’s destined to attract, and the fourth film in the series that is now on the way.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 10mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: September 16, 2019