The art of murder & mayhem

Philip Cu Unjieng - The Philippine Star
The art  of murder & mayhem
Picking up where John Wick 2 left off, the bareas- bones plot of Parabellum has to do with John (played by Keanu Reeves) being declared incommunicado and a $14M bounty placed on his head.

Film review:  John Wick 3

MANILA, Philippines — The third of an urban neo-noir, lone hitman film franchise that has captured the imagination of the audience looking for hard-boiled action, and today’s version of Shane, John Wick 3 — Parabellum arrives to our screens with a lot of promise and anticipation. As John Wick, Keanu Reeves has discovered what successful franchise film life after the Matrix can look like, and it’s not lost on us that Laurence Fishburne, who was part of the Matrix journey, is along for the ride in John Wick.

Picking up where John Wick 2 left off, the bare-as-bones plot of Parabellum has to do with John being declared incommunicado and a $14M bounty placed on his head. This veritable death sentence is handed down as a result of John’s having violated the rules of the High Table, and having murdered someone on the grounds of the criminal underworld’s safe haven, the Continental Hotel. As a plot device, it serves the purpose of placing John within the crosshairs of any and every criminal element, individual and gang. And as Winston (Ian McShane) wryly puts it, that would make the odds around even.

And let’s face it, the essence of any of the Wick films has been to get the story premise and motive out of the way, and usher in the action. On this count, Parabellum absolutely delivers. And when you take into consideration that this is the third installment, it’s no mean feat to make these battle and action sequences still look fresh and exciting.

The novel use of motorcycles and horses, killer dogs wearing flak jackets, armor-piercing shotguns, the flurry of bushido blades, Halle Berry in a minor but memorable role, vicious hand-to-hand combat, and a punctured eyeball, if this is a movie with a plot full of holes, it’s more than compensated for by the rising number of bodies with fatal holes in them. As the body count rises, the audience literally squirms and exclaims in pleasure, as this is what makes a John Wick film.

Keanu is now very comfortable wearing the black John Wick suit. The role strains credibility or plausibility, but we don’t really care. John never seems to tire, never gets any sleep or changes underwear. Bullets, knife wounds, getting hit by a car (twice), falling off a building — nothing seems to slow down John, and it is almost like the producers are winking at us, watching and calibrating as to how much we’re willing to accept, as John proves to be more death-resistant than Superman or Thor.

That this third installment isn’t going to be the last is blatantly obvious at Parabellum’s end. In terms of world-building, John has excelled, gifting us with a very distinct neon-hued New York, and a laconic anti-hero who loves dogs and is a glutton for punishment. It’s escapist action fare that knows exactly what its audience is looking for.

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