John Wick (Keanu Reeves) can’t catch a break.
After killing a member of the High Table — a powerful group that runs the world of assassins — in “John Wick 2,” Wick is on the run with limited resources and a $14 million bounty on his head. He begins to search for the Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), the head of the High Table, to negotiate peaceful terms between the two parties.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” expands Wick’s world further with interesting characters, plenty of riveting action and subtle humor to keep scenes fresh.
As Wick tries to survive the onslaught of wannabe assassins, he meets more people from his past who regretfully assist him. The Director (Anjelica Huston) transports customers to any desired location in the world while running a ballet theater. Their interactions give some insight into Wick’s origins and training while helping him escape New York. In Casablanca, Sofia (Halle Berry) helps Wick find the Elder’s location. Her two dogs bring an exciting new aspect to the action when they help in a firefight, tackling and incapacitating assailants. Sofia and Wick’s past is explored along with some reflection between the two on the consequences of their actions and the importance of their dogs.
The hunt for Wick has many fascinating antagonists throughout. Two of the long-lasting ones are the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and Zero (Mark Dacascos), who cause Wick and his friends problems. The Adjudicator is an enforcer of the rules of the High Table and investigates each person or group who helped Wick in killing Santino d’Antonio, including the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and Winston (Ian McShane). Despite Wick’s reputation, the Adjudicator’s unfazed by his resilience and proves herself a formidable enemy with powerful connections. Her no-nonsense attitude intimidates most but allows for some humor when her personality clashes with the boisterous Bowery King.
On the other side of the spectrum, Zero is a charismatic leader of a gang that respects Wick’s work, but is hired by the Adjudicator to kill him. Before a fight, some gang members show excitement for having an opportunity to fight him — especially Zero, who continuously shows enthusiasm when watching Wick fight or simply being near him. His enjoyment of Wick is humorous considering most fear him, yet Zero never fails to show his joy and attempt to impress Wick with some moves — including the cliché sudden disappearance into shadows or a crowd.
As with every “John Wick” movie, both gratuitous violence and subtle humor have a chance to shine. Whether an enemy’s head is suddenly deleted by a shotgun or both parties have empty clips, the humor mainly varies with fight scenes. The absurd actions used at points are great for action junkies and are sometimes hilarious, including a scene where Wick shoots heavily armored opponents to constantly stun them as they bounce around from the impact of the shots. Some wit comes from the dialogue or low-key parts of fight scenes, including both parties having to reload their gun or Wick’s creativity with each environment.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” is a high-octane, action-filled frenzy fueled by over-the-top violence and fascinating side characters. While traveling the world, it touches on other countries’ cultures while maintaining the spirit of the films. Continuing the high quality of the previous films in the series, “John Wick 3” continues to blow minds literally and figuratively.
Contact Caleb Barbachem at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.