Thursday, August 11, 2022

EUR Review: ‘John Wick 3’ – A Flawless Embodiment of the Perfect Action Movie


*”John Wick 3: Parabellum” is an almost perfect action movie. It’s a film in which almost every scene is not only an action scene – but so well done each would be a worthy climax of most action films ever made.

For instance, near the beginning – which takes place immediately after “John Wick 2” – Wick (Keanu Reeves) is racing to find some items, like a crucifix necklace and a marker medallion in a secret cache in a book, that will help him once he is officially labeled excommunicado and a $14 million bounty placed on his head by his handlers at the High Table for the unsanctioned killing of a crime lord on the  “neutral” ground of the New York Continental.

Suddenly, Wick comes face-to-face with Ernest, played by the hulking 7foot-3inch Ernest, played by NBA player Boban Marjanovic. What follows is the best David vs. Goliath martial arts fight since Bruce Lee took on Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in “Game of Death”. To win, Wick has to display two things that he will use throughout the film to overcome overwhelming numbers, firepower, challenges and odds – absolute ferocity and the ability to use anything he has at his disposal – in this case, large books, as weapons. The fight is epic – and Wick isn’t even officially “excommunicado” yet.

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Wick’s desire to escape/defeat the High Table means he must seek help from allies like the Director (Anjelica Houston). However, with the cold-blooded Adjudicator hunting him down, anyone who has helped Wick, including the Director and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) face brutal consequences. Even the doctor (Randall Duk kim)who helps Wick before he becomes “excommunicado” demands he shoot him twice so the High Table will not think he did so willingly and punish him.

This is on the mind of Winston (Ian McShane), who gave Wick a 1-hour head start and, as a result, is in danger of losing his hotel and possibly his life. Winston’s machinations versus The Table’s are fascinating and his Concierge, Charon (Lance Reddick), gets plenty of cool moments as well.

Wick decides he must go to the one man above the High Table, the Elder (Said Taghmaoui) to end their pursuit. On the way, he meets Sofia (Halle Berry). Their scenes together are truly memorable and electric.

Though Berry never got that “Jinx” spinoff as part of the James Bond franchise or got to really shine as she should have as Storm, she gets to cut loose here. The choreography and inventiveness of the action scenes, as they are throughout, are impeccable – smooth and gritty at the same time.

If they ever have a spinoff with “Sofia” as the lead, I bet Berry says yes, faster than she can kick or shoot her opponents here, which is saying something.

Kudos must also be given to Mark Dacascos, who as the Adjudicator’s main assassin, proves to present a charismatic, more than worthy challenge.

Director Chad Stahelski is a former stuntman and it shows. He knows what’s been done a thousand times and avoids it. Every scene is not only an immersive adrenaline rush, but gives you something you haven’t seen before – whether it’s horses used as lethal weapons, motorcycles, swords or something as simple as a belt.

Reeves, of course, is the star who makes the whole thing work. As the stakes and mythology of the Wickverse grow, and the battles get bigger, Reeves gives his larger-than-life hero enough humanity to make you impressed at what he is constantly able to do and care when he does.

He is an Unstoppable Force of Nature as Everyman – and “John Wick 3: Parabellum” exemplifies that in every frame, while leaving you screaming for more.

Grade: A+   

 

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