John Wick: Chapter 3 -Parabellum
So, here’s John Wick again: a widow and faithful dog owner who decidedly stuck his nose where he shouldn’t for those he loved. We’re at chapter 3 now. The underworld knows who he is (people trying to kill him literally call themselves “fans” of his work in this film). He now has had a gigantic bounty placed on his head (starting at $14 million dollars), and has been given a head start before he is considered “excommunicado” (or his ties having been severed, and his soul up for grabs). Not much more needs to be said. His climbing-up-the-ladder of previous films has lead to Parabellum ensuring tons of violence. It does not disappoint.
What has made the John Wick series stand a little past its peers is its ties to neo-noir. Visuals are dimly lit. A hunt to kill is also a following of clues. While Parabellum is a bit more of a departure of these comforts, it still resonates in John Wick’s noir foundations, enough that it supersedes usual action clichés. Yes, there is a lot of fighting. I’d argue at least fifty percent of the film is fighting. Yet, there aren’t many stupid one-liners, and plot usually progresses during these scenes. You don’t really get removed from the film. You wonder if, and when, John Wick will die. He has to one of these days. Every hit, cut, and shot feels heavy enough to land and be the final blow. This increases our care.
Parabellum is all about self sacrifice. Who is willing to be slashed into pieces because their time as come? Who is strong enough to purposefully lose an appendage to create truces? This kind of "honour system also makes for a fairly confusing climax in a narrative sense. The action? Oh, you needn’t worry about that. Every fight is well calculated and thrilling. However, this notion of allowing an opponent to get back up because of respect just doesn’t quite make sense in a noir setting. Noirs are cold. There’s also the idea that someone has to pass through minions before facing you. This isn’t a video game. That makes very little logic, outside of creating prolonged and exciting action sequences.
This is the result of a film series that isn’t going on for too long, but is wanting to go on for more. The plot gets more complex, but the need to up the amount of action (for such a film) gets more difficult. How can we make these combats make sense narratively? Usually, Parabellum works its fights in well. However, as stated above, some of these sequences make none, which is a bit unfortunate for an action series that actually gives a damn to provide environments and contexts.
Otherwise, Parabellum is a two hour rush. It has everything. Horse-versus-motorcycle chases. Crazy knife fights. A series of fisticuffs against Philadelphia 76er Boban Marjanovic (just because). If you just want to see some rage, bullets, punches and slashes, Parabellum will do the trick. Just understand that this is an instalment film that is only for those wanting the fight to never end. Maybe that’s why its story flaws don’t matter to the series: this is just another piece of a never ending battle.
Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.