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Review John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019): Too ambitious for it's own good!

genre: gun fu, action, crime

Up until this moment I couldn't get enough of John Wick. Bigger did seem better. Unfortunately the third part in the franchise has strayed away from it's roots. Don't get me wrong, it's still exciting and enjoyable but the flaws are too big now for me to ignore and overlook.

There were two major elements that make me appreciate John Wick as a franchise. The old school Hong Kong type of action full of well choreographed combat and stunt work. And the lore. It was very interesting to see that these criminals abide by their own set of laws and rules. More compelling was how the people of this world interacted with each other. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the world and it's people and it was what helped made the action and events more thrilling. However it is clear that the writers are making up as they go. 

For example they have put in elements that not only demystify the powers that be but also lessen the impact and gravity of everything that is attached to them. The concept of a high council or high table as they call it, an institution who seem to be above everything, is compelling. The following could be considered a spoiler, mild, so you have been warned. They even mention the old assassins called the Hashshashin which the Assassins Creed games are based on. This possible link or connection even if it is just a historic reference makes John Wick even more awesome. So the one guy, The Elder, who is the head of this this table at least should be interesting right? Wrong! Whoever had thought of casting the actor for this role should be shot or at least fired. The actor has no depth, presence or charisma. And he is not old. Surely they could have called Michael Caine or something? No, wait. Ben Kinglsey would have been perfect for the role. Now I do have some hope this Elder was just a stand in and that the real Elder still has to reveal himself.

That being said, had this been the only problem I don't think I would have minded that much. However there is one other problem. The action in some scenes were disappointing. The choreography wasn't always tight and strong and it seemed like there was far more hand to hand combat than gun fu. I am aware that by now Keanu Reeves has had some decent training and is quite capable of dishing out some moves. But compared to Tiger Chen, Mark Dacascos and Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog from The Raid) he obviously is out of his league. It is puzzling to me why then they would focus so much on the hand to hand combat and not resort to gun fu where he would seem more like a devil or god. I wished I was nitpicking. But there are quite a lot of scenes where you see the actors waiting for the punches to land. If you can tell that a fight is choreographed then the stunt or fight coordinator responsible hasn't done his or her job properly. Keanu definitely was more in his element when it came to the shooting bits. To me those scenes still are the coolest.

While I liked the addition of Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston they barely added anything. Well, Halle Berry's character did introduce one of the deadliest dogs in cinema history which was a lot of fun. But apart from that they could have been left out and it would not have made a difference. Why introduce these characters if in the end they aren't pivotal for the plot in the first place? Not to mention the finale and the sudden and unbelievable turn of a well known character.

I know that you might think I hardly enjoyed myself. Trust me I did. But I am a little disappointed with the overall result. I had expected bigger and better action and a far better follow up to the previous films. I did appreciate the increase of humour for example. Or how some fighters can't hide their fanboyism for John Wick. But I do hope that John Wick 4 is going to correct the mistakes of this third part or this whole franchise will be ex communicado for me!

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