Raise your hand if you have no clue what “Parabellum” means?
If you narrate the story of 2014’s John Wick, it sounds honestly like a parody of any typical Hollywood action movie. So Theon Greyjoy is the son of a rich Russian mobster. He and his friends break into Keanu’s house just for kicks. They steal a car he loves and then just to add the rotten cherry to the shit-pile, they kill his innocent little dog…a dog which was a gift from his dying wife. Little do they know that Keanu’s is the ONE. I mean Keanu is always the ONE. But this time, he is the one guy who you do not want to mess with- A retired assassin who can kill you with a fooking pencil. Now he pissed and he will not stop at anything to give some payback.
If that sounds ridiculous as hell… it is. But in the best possible way. No the movie isn’t over-the-top and doesn’t parody itself. Keanu’s just got some vibe which really makes you feel for his loss. The movie has ridiculous concepts like this whole secret world of assassins with their own hotels where they can’t kill each other, own currency, terminology etc. But it still worked like a charm. The movie was made by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch- who have immense years of stunt experience in Hollywood. In a world of CGI villains and save the world plotlines of super-hero or spy movies- they made a movie with natural looking but slick cool efficient action. John Wick was a breath of fresh air. It soon became a cult hit.
Followed by another success in John Wick Chapter 2 in 2017, which expanded upon the secret assassin world even more ridiculously by adding concepts like Blood debts, a secretive High Table which controls the entire network etc etc. But it still worked. The movie again continues the series by delving a slight bit into Keanu’s past and giving us another engaging story with great long take action scenes. The movie ends on a cliff-hanger with John Wick now being excommunicated and now being hunted by the entire assassin community for killing someone on neutral grounds.
John Wick chapter 3: Parabellum continues exactly minutes after the 2nd one. Now Keanu must find a way to apologize to the mysterious High Table and stop running. But most importantly, he must also find it within himself a reason to live. His wife is dead, his revenge completed in the first one and his blood debt paid back in full in the 2nd one. He is falling back into the murdering ways which he had given up long time ago. He literally has no reason to live. The best thing they do is unlike most other Hollywood action franchises they don’t just give him another love interest or damsel in distress to save. Even amidst more ridiculous concepts like Ninjas and a bond villain movie set in the climax, they still manage to keep John’s journey realistic. He is even questioned by many characters as to why wants so desperately to live that he is willing to go to the far corners of the earth to find the Elder- a Assassin who is above the High Table itself.
Even if you are not acquainted with the previous movies or with the John Wick mythos, don’t worry. Unlike Comic Book movies, where you have to have seen 20 movies that came before it to understand- here you don’t have to. They do organically explain what happened before and if you just go with the flow, you’ll get it. Because even if the story doesn’t interest, the action scenes will. God-damn, they really upped the game in this one. All of the scenes are beautifully crafted and by the end, you’ll be left with wondering which one was your favourite. Although they tried to do it in the The Dark Knight trilogy, this is the first movie to properly convey Ninja shadow techniques really well on-screen. You can literally see them appear from a dark corner of the screen and disappear…but you don’t know where. They need to get this same cinematographer on the next Batman movie.
Couple that with great performances particularly by Keanu whose real life Spiritual seeker vibe plays well into his character here. Halle Berry’s character though interesting just appears midway and disappears without much else to do with the climax. However, she has two war dogs with her and the action with her co-ordinating with them in a shootout is some really creative stuff. Ian Mcshane is regal as usual and Laurence Fishburne even in a small role delivers a proper arc. This arc may serve as the set up for the next movie. Oh also, Bronn from Game of Thrones is in the movie. I think after having Theon Greyjoy (really sorry can’t ever remember that actor’s name) in the first one, they had to have another GoT actor in this one.
The story also delves into John Wick’s past a bit and that was good to see. The mistake most action franchises make when they have a hit series on hand is either repeat the same concept again and again (Fast and Furious, Taken) or try and elevate the same scenario but in a different location. (If you liked Die Hard in a building, now we have Die Hard in an Airport. Ok the 3rd and 4th ones were great though) Am not saying John Wick saga is all planned Chapter wise, but they are not completely clueless about where to take the character either. They know that the plot is more or less wrapping for the cool, stunts and Keanu’s charm but they are trying to deliver the best possible wrapping. Digging deeper into the character and his motivations instead of just placing him in the same scenario in another location is a genuinely good move. The movie deals with actions and consequences and redemption. It also isn’t like deep Jean Luc Goddard level character drama but still works if you are watching this movie for more than just the action.
Only problem with the movie, is that near the climax it gets a slight bit longer than needed. There is a villain, a rival Ninja assassin who is not a major character in the previous movies but is now suddenly built up to be the John’s arch nemesis. They have an elongated climactic action sequence in a room made of glass which pays homage to the legendary scene from Enter the Dragon. The sequence is great but you are not given enough of the characters backstory or motivation for us to care. He just shows up and suddenly gives the typical Hollywood villain –‘we are not so different you and I’ speech to John Wick. Maybe it’s poking fun at the trope but that kinda irked me personally. Also, John Wick are not known for the realism but John Wick 1 at least had John’s cop friend show up when he heard noises in John’s home. Here people straight away slice other people’s necks at a crowded railway station and the people don’t notice at all. Its not just covert spy movie killing either, bodies fall and no one cares. The Continental Hotel is transformed into a battle zone and there are no consequences…no cops, SWAT anything. This was stretching the imagination a slight bit too much.
However, other than those gripes, John Wick 3 is great ride. In spite of being 3 movies into an action franchise they have managed to keep it fresh and is better than the 2nd one. If you are done with epic intergalactic battles and superhero stuff for a while and want to take a break… watch this movie where an un-killable assassin must go through hordes of enemies with a variety of weapons and martial arts skills, the enemies keep getting more difficult to kill and the movie has some ridiculous rules of its own, its own challenges and missions to complete before you level up to… wait a fucking minute- John Wick 3 is the best video game movie adaptation! (Just not based on an actual game).
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is definitely is a solid addition to the franchise
- Mad Dog from the Indonesian action gem – The Raid movies shows up in a prominent action scene. He even speaks in Bahasa Indonesia and John responds.
- “Parabellum” it turns out is a part of the Latin phrase –“Si vis pacem, para bellum” – “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Also, Parabellum is the name of a kind of gun cartridge.
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum stars Keanu Reeves, Keanu Reeves throwing knives, Keanu Reeves, riding a horse, maybe a bit of Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne, Keanu Reeves killing a dude using a book, a horse Etc.