Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war. Befitting then it is for John Wick, our decidedly peace-loving protagonist (sarcasm intended) to embark on the series’ third instalment – as it follows John Wick’s preparation for war.
Chad Stahelski’s Parabellum follows right after the events of the last film. Winston has declared Wick excommunicado, but has graciously given him an hour before it goes into effect. If the previous movie was any hint, New York City is awash with assassins at every corner – all keen on the $14 million dollar bounty on Wick’s head. “That just about evens the odds”, Winston quips. If anything’s for sure, the groans in the theatre affirmed that John Wick Chapter 3 has only gotten more violent and graphic – not to the point of gore, though.
Keeanu Reeves’ character is decidedly more battle-worn, although he delivers a much more heartfelt performance in dialogue. In previous instalments, Reeves’ Wick had brutal resignation written all over him: retired to a life with his true love, her unfortunate passing had thrown him right back into the life he had sworn to put behind him.
It had all started when his 1969 Ford Mustang was stolen and his puppy killed – spiralling into a chain of vicious, vengeful killings. The 2017 sequel saw Wick pit against powerful elements in the criminal underworld, and effectively culminated in his killing of High Table figure Santino D’Antonio.
If the Latin term was any hint, it would be that the franchise would last more than the trilogy I had expected it to be. Chapter 3 is indeed a preparation for war, and the war indeed takes place in future chapters. There is some indication that the franchise will last six full chapters. I can’t complain.
Few points of critique: diversity is welcome, but in Parabellum, it added confusion to the mayhem which I felt was gratuitous. Wick’s “invincibility” a la Baba Yaga doesn’t stand out as it had done in previous films. He’s not just more mortal – he seemed slower, more pained. Not as many fancy, showy-off moves now. Wick is in survival mode, but he does it brutally well.
Without ruining the movie for anyone – indeed – to enhance the movie-going experience for all: the movie is very likely slated for a few more instalments – so don’t hold your breath for a happy ending… yet.
It’s all high-octane, driven, blood-pumping action, and I found myself instantly disappointed at the year-long wait before Chapter 4 arrives.