REVIEW: “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”


Who would have thought back in 2014 that a meager budgeted action flick about a hitman avenging his dog’s death would turn into a hugely popular neo-noir franchise complete with its own growing mythology and cast of characters? I know I didn’t but I sure have enjoyed the crazy ride.

“John Wick” was a lot of fun. 2017’s follow-up was wilder and added a ton to what we can call the John Wick Universe. Now we get “John Wick: Chapter 3 – “Parabellum” and it takes everything from the previous two movies and ramps it up crazy levels. And trust me, I say that as the highest compliment.


“Parabellum” (which is Latin for “Prepare for War”) begins with the action dialed to 10. Keanu Reeves returns as the title character and right out of the gate he’s on the run in downtown Manhattan. After breaking some established underworld rules through an unsanctioned killing (see Chapter 2), John Wick is declared “excommunicado” by the ruling High Table. For those uninitiated in John Wick Universe vocabulary, this means he is officially persona non grata and has all of his underworld rights and privileges revoked. No one can help him on penalty of death and a $14 million bounty is placed on his head.

The open contract makes John Wick an immediate target for gangs, assassins, and bounty hunters. Former stuntman and returning director Chad Stahelski wastes no time diving into his steady diet of bullets, blades, and blood. The action is relentless but at the same time exhilarating, intense, brutal, and wickedly choreographed. Obviously there is no Oscar category for fight choreography but if their was this would be your frontrunner.


Smartly, “Parabellum” never ever takes itself seriously. I mean in the opening few minutes a man gets beat to death with a library book of all things. And John riding horseback through downtown New York City traffic is…well, you know. So the movie knows exactly what it is. And not only is it completely self-aware, but it fully embraces its over-the-top absurdity.

Several new characters appear who help build the mythology. A devious and mysterious person known only as the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) gives more insight into the clandestine High Table. Halle Berry crushes it playing Sofia, a dog-loving former associate of John’s who’s also really good at killing. And Anjelica Huston shows up as the cryptic Director, a woman of immeasurable clout.

Then you have the returning pieces. The wonderful Ian McShane is back as Winston, the owner/operator of the Continental Hotel. Lawrence Fishburne returns as the seemingly good-hearted crime lord The Bowery King. And can I just say I love Lance Reddick as Charon, the Continental’s concierge. He’s always great behind the front desk, but Chapter 3 let’s him roll up his sleeves and really get to work.

Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick' in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to finding the big final fight just a hair exhausting. I think it’s because by that time we had seen everything in the film’s arsenal. Over-the-shoulder flips, sliced limbs, bloody headshots, people tossed through panes of glass, among so much more. But that doesn’t mean the ending doesn’t satisfy. Quite the opposite. I love where “Parabellum” lands and it clearly has its sights on a Chapter 4.

So the John Wick franchise entered Chapter 3 in high gear and left it screaming towards the next installment in overdrive. “Parabellum” is an old-school action-lover’s dream with a body count that easily rivals anything put up by Schwarzenegger or Stallone in the 1980’s. Yet it’s loaded with style and character. It has an ever-present but often subtle sense of humor and Keanu Reeves has charisma to spare. It left me hungry for more and judging by the box office I’m not alone.



36 thoughts on “REVIEW: “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

  1. I love that Reddick got his own action moment here but the best bit was when the dog got dropped off and they both seemed genuinely pleased by that situation 😀 So many cute moments in this movie – like Sofia’s dogs guarding John when he sat down, all that shade and sass from Winston and Fanta at the end, it was so much fun!

    • I loved this thing so much. It is unbridled action from start to finish but the style and charisma is off the charts. I’m starving to see it again.

  2. Reeves has a fascinating filmography. Great as an action star but he’s been in all kinds of roles. and i think he’s going back to Bill and Ted. that will be very interesting in so many ways. I’ve yet to see Parabellum but part 1 and 2 we’re quite intense.

    • Parabellum pretty much picks up right after 2. It stops the gas and doesn’t let up. The action is something to behold. If you liked the first two don’t miss this one!

      • thanks for the recommendation Keith. I just finished rewatching part 1. it really is well made choreography, vicious but with a lot of rhythm. hope am not outgrowing this kind of action stuff cause it got me exhausted!

  3. A fun watch indeed! I was late to the party, but thankfully I slid in at the last minute lol Keanu is having a great year!

  4. This has got to be the first action trilogy that’s not only stayed at high quality but actually gotten better with each movie – surely! I can’t wait for Chapter 4. We should start taking bets on what random object John is going to use as a murder weapon next time round.

  5. Just saw it this morning, agree with your review. I like that they’ve created their own little world (a little bit like Payback in that regard) with their own rules. I wasn’t as much of a fan of 2, but this one got back on track. Nice setup for the next one, and I think they kind of left what’s up with Winston hanging a little bit.

    • Glad you enjoyed it too. I had such a blast with it. And they’ve made something with a surprising amount of depth to it. And you’re right, great setup for Chapter 4.

  6. Honestly, who knew! I had no idea this would go on past the first one. I was happy to be proven wrong twice. I grew up on John Woo movies and, other than The Raid duology, no other film has satisfied my bloodlust quite like the John Wick films. Asian action cinema remains unparalleled, but it’s nice to see guys like Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves pushing Hollywood’s idea of “the action film” outside the realm of superheroes.

    Splendid review. I’d rate it exactly the same. It’s endless where this series could go. Bringing in Carrie-Anne Moss, or *crossing fingers* Chow Yun-fat. Bring on Chapter 4.

    • Great observations! This does lean towards Asian action films which is a style I really appreciate. And without that influence I truly feel this series would be pretty generic. As it is, I’m loving it.

  7. I just loved the execution of action in this movie. 1st two were good but this one. ooohhh….so hot!!!And edition of Halle Barrey with her dogs is awesome. And when she says to Keanu “He killed my dog.”and he aptly replies “I understand’. ROFL!! So much said in just two words. And just like the movie character itself is all about action. Less words more action!! And who better can play it with Keanu. His whole life has been nothing else but that!! Great new franchise which I wish runs for a long time.

    • It’s crazy how they have been able to ramp up the action with each new installment. JW3 definitely raised the bar to insane levels. I had hoped to see it a second time in the theater but it looks like I’ll be waiting for Blu-Ray.

    • I can completely understand. To be perfectly honest, by that last big fight scene I did find myself a little…exhausted. But I was onboard. Maybe the next one will get a little more into storytelling. (BTW, sorry about the Spam folder nonsense. I’m not sure why WordPress keeps having these issues).

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