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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum review - mayhem in Manhattan | reviews, news & interviews

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum review - mayhem in Manhattan

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum review - mayhem in Manhattan

Latest instalment of Keanu's hitman saga sustains a ferocious pace

A history of violence: Keanu Reeves as John Wick

Keanu Reeves’s hitman franchise is blossoming into a delirious little earner.

This third instalment reunites the star with director Chad Stahelski – who used to be Keanu’s stunt double in the Matrix films – and screenwriter Derek Kolstad, and keeps the action cranked to melting point for its two-hours-plus running time.

The narrative picks up where 2017’s John Wick: Chapter 2 left off, with Wick declared “excommunicado” by the crime lords of the High Table and running for his life through New York City as massed assassins queue up to kill him and collect the $14m reward. Drolly, the killers are coordinated by old-school switchboard ladies using antique computers.

The blindingly simple set-up is part of the allure, like being sucked into a computer game where you just have to keep shooting and karate-chopping to stay alive, and Wick’s methods of scything through armies of pursuers come in many forms. There’s a scintillating and hilarious sequence where Wick is pounced upon by an enormously tall attacker in the New York public library, and finds imaginative ways to batter him to death with a book of poetry. Assaulted from all sides by Oriental knifemen in a museum of weaponry, Wick is engulfed in a blizzard of flying blades, which ends with one attacker resembling a pin-cushion riddled with murderous cutlery. A big set-piece in a souk in Casablanca, where Wick battles back to back with his old friend Sofia (Halle Berry, pictured below), is an intricately choreographed ballet of spinning, falling, tumbling and leaping bodies.

Of course, some observers may object that John Wick is nothing more than a non-stop orgy of violent death, and let’s face it, they have a point. Yet it has its saving graces. Though Stahelski never hangs about long enough to indulge in finely-detailed characterisation, the casting of big, characterful actors helps him to get away with it. Lawrence Fishburne exudes rumbling gravitas as the crime boss known as the Bowery King. Ian McShane has steadily grown in stature and screen time as Winston, the urbane yet ruthless manager of the Continental Hotel, where all violent criminal activity is strictly prohibited (a rule Wick flouted in Chapter 2). His right-hand man, Charon the concierge (the imperturbable Lance Reddick), displays some previously unseen skills, while Anjelica Huston brings regal haughtiness to her role as a Belarusian ballet director.

As well as all that, Stahelski’s background as a martial arts specialist seems to have brought a zen spirit to the piece. Wick radiates an aura of self-containment which enables him to float through the action with metaphysical detachment. He speaks his monosyllabic dialogue only reluctantly, as if he regards language as a bit of a nuisance. A passage where Wick has to trek – clad in his usual black suit and tie – across the sands of the Sahara in order to find spiritual guidance from The Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui) feels like a fable from the Arabian Nights.

Anyway, Wick fans will adore this. They’ll also love the way the ending points ahead to Chapter 4.

Wick speaks his monosyllabic dialogue reluctantly, as if language is a bit of a nuisance


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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