Parabellum, meaning preparation for war, or in Wick’s case, total mayhem and destruction, thoroughly fulfils the fans’ long-awaited expectations and more. This writer was caught off guard on more than one occasion, so much so that I had to cover my mouth to stifle the gasps that would involuntarily escape, time and time again.
What do we know of John Wick? He is the ‘Baba Yaga’ or boogeyman; the love of his life, his wife Helen, dies of cancer; he loves his dog so much that he’s prepared to kill anyone who harms it; he is renowned for killing three men with (gasp) one pencil; his infamy precedes him, whereby he is both respectfully feared and at the same time, admired in awe; he has integrity and yet, has no compunction when he is obliged to fulfil the rules of the ‘high-table.’
Surrounded by a recognised cast of players of the calibre of Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Common, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick et al, the audience sees more of Wick’s dual persona and the fear, respect, awe and reverence that his enemies, total strangers and his colleagues have for him. Incidentally, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and of course, Keanu Reeves, are the only actors to appear in all three of the John Wick films to date.
In this third story of Wick’s brand of havoc, we see our hero reluctantly forced to defend himself against assailants and their blood-thirsty greed to earn the US $14 million bounty placed on his head for killing his arch-nemesis on ‘consecrated ground,’ namely the off-limits New York Continental Hotel. The High-Table, as a consequence, designates Wick ‘excommunicado,’ meaning he is no longer under their protection and is denied the privileges and access to the underworld’s limitless resources.
Whilst some opine that the combat scenes went on for far too long, fans of martial arts would no doubt drool at the variety and sheer expertise of the art, especially the scene between Wick and two worthy opponents, Shinobi 1, played by Cecep Arif Rahman (of The Raid) and Shinobi 2, played by Yayan Ruhian (also of The Raid). Both actors are renowned masters and instructors of Pencak Silat, the Indonesian martial arts. The choreography, the brilliant execution of the moves and the obvious respect between the three combatants, is both credulous and awe inspiring. Zero, an equally formidable opponent, is played by Mark Dacascos with both ferocity and continuous onslaught. Chad Stahelski, the director of the movie and the martial art, stunt coordinator, makes a cameo appearance on the zebra crossing/crosswalk during the scene where Wick gallops past on horseback.
In Parabellum, the regular players develop in character and yet, the viewer is left in the dark as to their loyalty or aversion to Wick. Ian McShane, the protagonist who plays Winston, is an enigma, as is the Bowery King, played by Laurence Fishburne, while ‘boots and all’ Halle Berry, who incidentally, broke three ribs while filming, holds her own as Sofia, an ex-assassin and manager of the Casablanca Continental Hotel. Are they for or against Wick?
Asia Kate Dillon is introduced to this film as the ruthless Adjudicator for the High-Table and both she and Mark Dacascos, having been diehard fans of John Wick 1 and John Wick 2, spoke of immediately accepting the offer of their respective film roles without even having read the script. We, once again, see the stylish, lean and lanky Lance Reddick in his usual role as Charon, the concierge of the New York Continental Hotel. It was a delight to see his role develop in the movie.
Granted, the blood-thirsty and gory scenes capture the viewers’ focus and attention whilst keeping them on the edge of their seats, and the tense and often dramatic scenarios, keep the adrenalin pumping. Yet there is light, comedic relief interspersed in between, which helps to ease the suspense, the stress and the tempo.
Is this the last of the series? Does our hero meet a grizzly end? Is there more to come?
Die-hard John Wick fans will need no persuasion to see Chapter 3 – Parabellum and get their fill of the master in full-fledged action.
(C) Wendy Robinson July 2019 All Rights Reserved
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~ Albert Einstein