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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum


Stars: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Halle Berry, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, Anjelica Huston, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian

Director: Chad Stahelski

The sequel strikes again.

Which should come as no surprise since, with the previous two John Wick action thrillers claiming a fortune at the box office, it was inevitable that Hollywood tradition - profit before art - should insist on a third outing for Reeves' popular grim-faced hitman.

And so, supported by four screenwriters, a cavalcade of state-of-the-art special effects and action-and-star-dedicated director Stahelski, 'legendary hitman' John Wick returns to deliver some two hours of slam=bang slicing, dicing, shooting, running and assorted mayhem when, after fighting his way out of New York because of the $14 million dollar contract for his extinction ('The High Table wants you') makes him a major attraction for every leading assassin, man and woman alike, in the world.

Ignore narrative logic - which is essentially what screenwriters Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams do - and simply settle for a constant cornucopia of action and thrills as Reeves (rarely changing his customary 'man battling with constant constipation' expression) shoots, punches, slashes and swipes his sword to stay alive in order to be ready for the (inevitable, surely?) John Wick Chapter 4.

Action, not logic, is the driving force behind the gory thrills on offer. To give director Stahelski credit, he extracts all the excitement possible from Reeves' constant battles to survive, culminating in a slice-and-dice swordfight ('We’re both masters of death') in New York that at times seemed to be lasting longer than the average television series. Given the box-office value of the series, there is never any genuine doubt that Reeves will triumph in the end...

In effect, without resorting to much in the way of subtle acting, he makes 007 seem like a peacenik by comparison.

Location shooting in Morocco adds impact, as do the patently expensive special effects that make the movie a surefire success. Credit is due to such key supporting actors McShane, Fishburne and Berry for keeping straight faces in the light of what they are required to do, while possibly the best support comes from well-used New York and Moroccan locations

(If you think you hear unintended whining on the soundtrack it might just be coming from the 007 factory who will be hard put to serve up as lively, noisy, mindless and painlessly entertaining mishmash of stunning thrills and action as this...

Incidentally, if all the myriad people named during the seemingly endless end credits were to pay to see the film, then it would surely be a guaranteed box-office record-breaker.

(And should you fancy some useless information: The title 'Parabellum' comes from the Latin phrase: 'Si vis pacem, para bellum' which means "If you want peace, prepare for war.' It is also an alternate name for the ubiquitous 9mm handgun cartridge).

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour (unspecified).
131 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 15 May 2019