REVIEW: JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM delivers visceral thrills and rich world-building worthy of the franchise.


John Wick 3 continues the tradition of epic world-building and spectacular stunt-driven setpieces established in previous films in the franchise while delivering a highly serialized third entry into its pantheon.

John Wick 3 picks up exactly where John Wick 2 leaves off, with Wick having one hour before he is declared excommunicado after killing Santino D’Antonio on Continental grounds, which triggers a $14 million bounty on his head from the High Table and renders him ineligible for protection and help from any of the Continental properties and services. Wick uses his last hour to gather a last marker, a stash of coins and a ticket from the New York Public Library. Wick uses the ticket, an elaborate Russian Orthodox crucifix to ask safe passage from The Director (Anjelica Huston), the head of a Russian contract killing enclave that bears some clue to Wick’s origins, to buy passage to Casablanca to cash in a marker that may yet save his life. Meanwhile, the High Table sends an Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to take retribution on Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) for their aid in helping Wick kill Santino and escape death.

The strength of this film is mainly in its setpieces. Director Chad Stahelski sets up various stunt setpieces to showcase Wick’s escape to Casablanca in the light of the giant bounty on his head, most notably a fight in the NY Public library where his only weapon is a book, a fight in an antique weapons shop, followed by a one-shot battle between Wick on horseback and a gang of katana-wielding Asian bikers. The film introduces several elements that really help flesh out the world building of the last 2 films, including Sophia (Halle Berry), the manager of the Continental in Casablanca, Morocco who has a past with Wick, as well as the Tick Tock Man (Mark Dacascos), the head of an Asian school of assassins who serves as the Adjudicator’s right hand. That being said, although this movie is very engaging and impressive, the film does end on a bit of an abrupt cliffhanger, which as serialized as the Wick films are, leaves the audience a bit dissatisfied. This film and John Wick 2 both leave us with Wick on the offensive and it would be nice to have a more clean slate of an ending. Despite that, the film’s fight scenes towards the end, especially one where Wick takes on a hotel full of armor-enforced High Table soldiers and a glass room battle with DaCascos and his school are highlights in the film. The glass room battle being very reminiscent of the Lee vs. Han battle in Enter the Dragon with added ninja disappearing effects.

Overall, if you’re looking for some great comic book style mythic world-building and some of the best action setpieces you’ll see in cinema all year, John Wick 3 comes highly recommended.