★★★★½ Watched 01 Jul, 2020
Since the previous chapter John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) ended on such a cliffhanger I was eager to see how the events unfold. A lesson I remember the most from an interview with George Lucas talking about how he designed Star Wars narrative that kept placing the main characters in constant peril and seemingly impossible situations (trash compactor scene is a great example) while keeping the audience guessing “How they are gonna get out of this one?”.
This time around John Wick (Keanu Reeves enjoying his career resurgence) starts being chased down by basically every single bounty hunter in the world. The setups and locations are much more dynamic and diverse. I really liked the inventive use of fighting props like a horse, dogs, and a motorcycle reminding me of Jackie Chan’s signature style of fight choreography. There are numerous little nods to the late 70s and 80s, like Commodore 64 used by the administration of the assassin’s guild, neon, and a video game feel/aesthetics to many of the scenes. And that is just on the side of main nods to cornerstones of action movies choreography of the past like gun ballet and fluid, yet chaotic looking multiple opponent fight sequences.
They brought in some new familiar faces like Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos, and Jerome Flynn (most known from Game of Thrones). I’ve seen some behind the scenes where Berry is training for months alongside Reeves and their hard work clearly shows up on the screen. John Wick franchise is very much rooted in action and martial arts stuntmen choreography that we see basically in all fight scenes not played by the main actors. Besides most of the fighting is done by the main actors themselves and that is cleverly showcased in long action sequences not broken down by rapid editing style, which has become widespread in most similar movies in the last 20 years.
The setting for the final fight, like in the previous one, is another loving homage to legendary Bruce Lee. In this case Game of Death (1978) finale where Bruce is fighting his way through the various levels of the pagoda, facing a different opponent each skilled in different martial art style. This inspired me to re-watch Game of Death back to back. More about that experience in its own review.
On a final note, I have to say that complaints about a lack of story are misplaced because it would be like complaining about lack of proper space to put a child seat in a Ferrari. JW3: Parabellum is a great visceral action ride from start to finish.