I love action movies and the first John Wick was absolutely all about the action. With fight sequences that bordered on unbelievable and choreography that was incredible, I loved it. Now we’ve reached Chapter 3 and I wondered if the writers could maintain that same level of adrenaline filled scenes and pure ferocity that the original had. With a plot that is exactly what you want, brilliant fight sequences and dark humor highlighting the story, this is as good as the first.
John Wick Chapter 3 begins with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) being declared excommunicado after killing a member of High Table, the shadowy organization of assassins. With a 14 million bounty on his head, John is hunted by the world’s most ruthless men and women at every turn, in particular, Zero (Mark Dacascos) an assassin with a vendetta, encouraged by the Adjudicator of the High Table (Asia Kate Dillon). Without the aid of his closest allies such as Winston (Ian McShane), manager of the Continental Hotel and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), John must return to his past in order to salvage his present, obtaining aid from The Director (Anjelica Huston) and Sofia (Halle Berry), an assassin but will it be enough and in time to save John’s life?
The action is impeccable, exactly what you want from a John Wick film. It is nonstop, adrenaline packed, full of chase sequences, and fight scenes. Even the opening sequences begin with action, John Wick racing through the streets of New York on a mission to get to the New York Public Library to retrieve some important items. Their importance becomes clearer later in the film, but in that moment John is hunted and must fight for his life. One of the best elements to the action is the unlikely objects that John finds to fight with, not just guns and knives, but books, horses, and even using the assailants own weapons against them. These are, despite being unlikely, absolutely believable.
The fights are impressive in their choreography, like watching a dance in motion. Every one of the scenes is deadly, brilliant, and showcases some incredibly intricate fight styles and movements. I especially loved a scene with trained attack dogs, used by Sofia, in a fight in which she and John must escape. Not only does it allow for a scene in which the dogs get to fight back, a sly allusion to the first film, but the animals are all deadly grace and ferocity in motion. There is another scene in a theater with ballet dancers in which fighters come to attack, but never once disrupt the ballet, moving in between the dancers with elegance and perfect timing. These are the type of scenes that highlight the movie and make you sit back, enjoying each moment.
There is more to the movie than just the action and fight scenes. While the plot is not complex, it does delve into order, rules and the consequences of breaking rules, even with the best of intentions. One of the reasons John must go back to his past is in order to address that very real accountability and why he wants to live. The film also references loyalty, both in people and in dogs. Dogs are known for their loyalty but is John willing to be just a trained dog, attacking on command or will he fight for his independence? This theme is what makes the film interesting and goes beyond just a typical fight movie. In addition, along with this theme, there is commentary throughout the movie about how the initial fight is about more than just a dog.
The dark humor truly elevates some of the fight scenes, especially some of the moments with Sofia and later when John is fighting Zero. Halle Berry infuses Sofia with a truly dark sense of humor, her experiences with John one of the scenes that gets laughs. In addition, while I don’t want to give away some of the jokes, the subtle comedy moments with Zero gives the film some engaging moments that breaks up some of the action.
Keanu Reeves is the epitome of what we want in the character of John Wick. He is understated, full of wit at the right moments, and his body language is much of the style that gives the film its humor and action. Halle Berry performs well in her fight scenes and gives nuance to the movie, allowing us to see a different side to when John was an assassin. Ian McShane is brilliantly manipulative and cunning, absolutely what you want to see from his character. I loved Anjelica Huston as the Director, as she was both stoic and dark. Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King portrayed his character as strong and unbreakable. I loved the cameos from different actors, like Jerome Flynn and Robin Lord Taylor. I also found Aisha Kate Dillon grand in her performance as the Adjudicator, elegant and witty.
If you want action and fights, as good as the first John Wick movie was, this is perfection. It is exactly what you want and expect. There isn’t an overly complex plot, it is predictable in most ways, but it is a blast to watch and I enjoyed the ride. I think audiences will love it. I know I did and rather hope for more sequels.
Rating: 4 out of 5 fingers.
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