John Wick 3 has the single best action sequence of the entire trilogy
JOE's review of the threequel is here.
"Si vis pacem, para bellum." If you want peace, prepare for war.
A fairly succinct look at the entire John Wick trilogy to date, as you'll remember when we first met Wick, he had been attempting to live a "normal", quiet life, and his past violently caught up with him.
One of the best things about the movies has always been how simple the plots have been: someone killed his dog, so he's going to kill them, followed by someone sets him up to be killed, so he's going to kill them, too.
However, along the way, the series has picked up A LOT of baggage.
The simplicity of the gold coins and the rules of The Continental Hotel were fun, but then there was High Tables, and blood oaths and The Bowery King, which always ran the risk of buckling the movies under the weight of their own mythology.
John Wick 3 adds even more, picking things up in the moments following the events of the second movie, and we're rapdily introduced to Angelica Huston as the Director, as a Russian ballet instructor who is also a High Table member who is also somehow a personal protector for John.
There's also fellow retired assassin Halle Berry, an adjudicator sent by the High Table to punish anyone who assisted in Wick's escape (played by Orange Is The New Black's Asia Kate Dillon), Jerome Flynn as an Italian (maybe, the accent wasn't great) coin-maker, and at least two more besides that we won't get into here for fear of spoilers.
The minimalist approach to the story is now replaced by an almost video-game-esque plot, with Wick going from Point A, to meet Person B, to get Weapon C, to kill Person D, and it does almost suffocate the whole thing in just too much stuff.
Thankfully, director Chad Stahelski has also bumped up the action too, so it is no longer just John going through differently lit set-pieces, shooting people in the face over and over again. Don't get us wrong, that was fun in the first movie, but if you've ever made the mistake of watching the first two movies back to back, you'll quickly realise how repetitive the action scenes become.
For the third one, Stahelski throws in everything but the kitchen sink, with action sequences involving motorbikes, horses, knife museums, violent dogs, and samurai sword fights in glass offices.
It helps that each set-piece looks significantly different to the one that has come before, but it doesn't help that the movie's best action scene - maybe the entire trilogy's best action scene - takes place quite near the start of the movie, giving a sense that it is all downhill from there.
That feels especially true during the protracted finale, when the endless, faceless bad guys are all wearing bullet-proof armour (really hammering home that video-game feeling, that the final level is just the same thing on a harder difficulty), and a three-way fight with two of the best fighters from The Raid, who visibly have to lower their skill level to match 54 year old Keanu's.
If this all sounds like negativity, then let us course correct by saying there hasn't been a movie that made us giddily clap with violent delight at some of the scenes this much since Mad Max: Fury Road. The addition of Halle Berry is a great one - more of her in the inevitable fourquel, please! - and Keanu is still clearly having a ball playing this bad-ass.
But maybe next time, ease off the world-building, it is built enough. Now is the time to watch Keanu tear it all down with his bare hands.
John Wick 3: Parabellum is released in Irish cinemas on Friday 17 May.
Clip via Lionsgate Movies