‘John Wick: Parabellum’ film review: Guns, guts and an abundance of glory

John Wick is a man of focus, commitment and sheer will. He once killed three men in a bar with a pencil. Also known as Baba Yaga, Wick is the chosen one sent to kill the Bogey Man. That’s Wick in a few words. Director Chad Stahelski’s immensely enjoyable action series, now in its third instalment, has remained top notch not for its storytelling or riveting performances. In fact, the singular plot is stretched to the max from a wafer-thin premise over three films, but that’s not what we’re there for. The joy of a John Wick film is entirely in its action that continues to keeps audiences hooked with wide-eyed wonder. It all boils down to Stahelski’s sheer innovation and effort that goes into every single kill. Often it almost borders on, dare we say, even titillation. That is, if you’re into that thing.

In the third instalment John Wick: Parabellum, our long-haired recently widowed ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) proves his mettle and more with an astounding body count and incredibly creative, if gory, kills. Stahelski, a Hollywood stuntman-extraordinaire-turned-director forges ahead to explore new ways of spilling blood. There’s a brilliantly crafted sequence with knives and blades of all kinds flung at breakneck speeds, one even impaling an eye socket. Another has Wick on a horse galloping through traffic and then he’s riding a bike one-handed while defeating his sword-ed foes. A heavy gauge gun even blows away portions of a man’s brain, splattered on the floor. Despite the cruelty of the Indian Censor Board’s trigger-happy chopping, Parabellum’s gore still entertains.

John Wick: Parabellum

  • Director: Chad Stahelski
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane
  • Storyline: There’s a hit on John Wick’s head and everyone’s out to get their share of the bounty

Wick’s saga — which started with vindication over the death of his puppy and theft of his ’69 Ford Mustang — has snowballed into a death-for-all celebration. The High Table, a syndicate that Wick, honourably left in lieu of marital bliss, has declared an open bounty of $15 million on him. Wick has committed one of two ultimate sins: spilled blood on consecrated High Table ground: The Continental hotel. Those who’ve aided Wick also get their share of punishment. To redeem himself, Wick has to do the unthinkable and kill a friend if his own life can be spared.

Unlike its predecessors, there’s barely any downtime for Wick in Parabellum. Like a fast car zooming towards that tantalising finishline, Stahelski goes 0 to 60 barely a few minutes into the film. It sets Parabellum in fine form. Of note is the keen awareness Stahelski has for action sequences. He deliberately introduces brief moments of levity bang in the middle of a fight. The film’s humour, while firmly entrenched, is seamlessly subtle culminating in a slickness that’s very rarely experienced. Reeves, plays a man of few words but plenty of substance, never once failing to deliver essence of his character. But a shout out for Asia Kate Dillon whose High Table ‘Adjudicator’ is equally eerie as she is lethal.

Though Stahelski brings out all the guns, pun intended, in part three, the end of Parabellum signals a fourth part. How the director intends to up his own ante (in spite of a year-or-more long wait) will no doubt be absolutely satisfying if the first three films are anything to go by.


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