After three movies, the “John Wick” franchise is showing signs of fatigue. There’s still more than enough slicing and shooting in Parabellum to keep you entertained, but the novelty has worn thin and the franchise risks becoming even staler with subsequent entries.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has been ex-communicated after killing Santino D’Antonio, a member of the High Table. With every assassin in the world looking to collect the lucrative bounty on his head, Wick flees New York City for Casablanca, hoping an old acquaintance (Halle Berry) can help him make things right with the powers that be. But John and his friends, including Winston (Ian McShane) and The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), will learn that every action has consequences.
Returning director Chad Stahelski directs the action scenes with the requisite flair we’ve come to expect from these movies. He’s aided by fluid camerawork, crisp editing, and stunning production design. The fight scenes in Parabellum don’t necessarily up the ante in terms of scale or violence, but they do find increasingly fun ways to make John fight for his life that we haven’t seen before.
The story also expands even further upon the world-building that Chapter 2 did a great job with. We learn about the Adjudicators, who are essentially the judicial branch of the assassin underworld. It also digs further into the High Table that was mentioned in passing previously.
Unfortunately, Parabellum takes the series further than ever into the realm of pure fantasy. Even though these movies never cared much for reality, the first two John Wicks had some modicum of believability and internal logic. Parabellum throws that out the window. Viewers’ enjoyment of the movie will depend largely on how willing they are to simply go with the flow.
Keanu Reeves owns this part. While there’s obviously pain and anger that runs through John Wick, Reeves allows moments of levity to shine through (there’s also a great Matrix reference). The real MVP of the movie is Halle Berry, who doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as she deserves. Other actors are serviceable, with most of them being returning characters who already have their parts down cold.
As mentioned, technical credits are impeccable, with the score perhaps being the only thing that’s somewhat rote. The movie leaves the door wide open for Chapter 4, but I hope the sequel provides a conclusion. Parabellum may be fine, but I’m not sure this series can handle more than one additional movie.