I have a confession to make. This is really hard for me, but I think it needs to be said. After all, it’s 2019. Things are different. And even though I know I’ll get a lot of hate for this, I think it’s time for me to just come out and say it.
I like action movies. There, I said it. Hopefully my mom will still hug me and my dad can look me in the eye. But part of the reason I say this is because of Keanu Reeves and the John Wick franchise. This series has done so much for the genre, but above all else, John Wickhas made action movies cool again. A straightforward revenge-thriller, the first movie was an honest and pure gift to fans of the genre, and furthermore a much need revitalization of the genre itself. For starters, John Wick gave fans a hero that embodied what made action icons like Indiana Jones or James Bond so likeable; a smart, calculating character who is the best at what he does and has a reputation that you believe, even if too epic to be true. Subsequently, the rest of what this film contributed to the genre simultaneously set the John Wick character right up there with the aforementioned greats. Ground-breaking fight choreography, intricate world building, and a seamless combination of clean and sleek with gritty and brutal visuals put together what cause somewhat of a renaissance for action; a reform from the Die Hards and Fast & Furious’s that has already served as inspiration for much of what the genre has seen over the past five years, especially highly-skilled assassin flicks starring both men and women. In fact, Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde and Jennifer Garner’s Peppermint have been described as “John Wick with a female lead,” proving that the franchise is already a metric by which we talk about other action movies.
The latest installment goes back to these crucial devices, and does so in a way that’s outrageously fun from start to finish. Parabellum contains some of the most brutal, but also some of the most impressive fight scenes that you’ll see this year. Rather than frantically cutting between 12 different angles to produce a jarring sequence of hits, the fights are shown in fully framed, long, continuous shots that demand unbelievable choreography. This also makes it so that Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry are doing most of their own stunts, and in these performances you can see months of obvious hard work paying off. The fights are also some of the most creative in the series, with an endlessly entertaining combination of martial arts, guns, swords, knives, etc. as well creative integration of the environment into each battle. For this alone, Parabellum is an absolute gift to action junkies everywhere.
The beginning of the film sees our hero minutes after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2. The entire network of assassins that John belongs to has been made simultaneously aware of John’s excommunication from their brotherhood, and the subsequent bounty on his head which will go into effect in 1 hour. Some of the best moments in the movie occur in this first 40 minutes or so, as John works his way through each wave of attempts on his life, which is now valued at $14 million.
Without spoiling too much, the rest of Parabellum follows John through his struggle against the High Table of assassins and his attempt to single out friend from foe. For a movie that dedicates an almost hilarious amount of time to its action sequences, every minute is earned by somehow being able to effortlessly tell an incredibly immersive and high-stakes story. Not only is the world-building intelligent and exciting, it’s also unequivocally charming. There’s something about an international underground network of professional contract killers following a strict set of agreed upon rules and procedures, and treating each other with an almost chivalrous level of respect, that just makes it impossible not to smile. This is ostensibly one of the film’s running themes; the idea of why we agree upon follow rules and the consequences that come with breaking them. We also see continued symbolism mirroring that of the puppy that was killed in the first movie, what that means to John and his motivation to go back to the life he chose to leave. Furthermore, the film’s title leads us to one of its major themes, taken from the Latin phrase, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” meaning, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Even at its most cliche, or admittedly its most cheesy, Parabellum is a perfect consecration of John Wick as this generation’s action icon, and more importantly, it’s just so much f*ckin fun. Keanu Reeves is quite possibly the only actor who could make this character work, which is especially amazing given the quiet nature of his career in the few years before the start of this franchise, coming off the success of the Matrix franchise. But like the action genre, and like John Wick himself…yeah, I’m thinking he’s back.
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Director: Chad Stahelski
Run Time: 103 minutes
Official Website: https://www.JohnWick.movie
Official Social Media Pages:
IMDb Page: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Jake Hardison | Writing Contributor
A.A | Digital Broadcast Arts | Palomar College
Jake is a second year student at Palomar College pursuing transfer to a university to study TV, Film, and New Media. At Palomar’s radio station, KKSM AM 1320, Jake hosts a weekly movie and entertainment news show called Morning Wood on Mondays from 6-9 am. Jake is an avid fan of pop culture and all things fandom, and has been especially passionate about film and music his entire life. Engaging in skills such as filmmaking, singing, acting, broadcast, voiceover, and writing, his interests are diverse, yet revolve around enthusiasm for the art of storytelling. Jake currently hopes to pursue a career in entertainment reporting and eventually break into other forms of media. Instagram: @JakeHardison_17 |