John Wick

Most movie franchises start to sputter around the third installment. “Return of the Jedi,” “The Godfather 3,” “Police Academy 3,” (just seeing if you’re paying attention).

“John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum,” not only hits that notion out of the park, it chases it down, knocks it to the ground, shoots it in the head twice and then insults its momma just to be sure.

Keanu Reeves is John Wick, of course, the assassin of few words who had managed to get out of the game, get married, settle down and get a dog in the suburbs. If you saw the first “John Wick,” you know he was dragged back into the game when his dog was killed because a Russian dufus wanted his car.

So, Wick spent two movies hunting down those responsible for the death of his dog and the destruction of his car and at the end of the second one, he did the one thing all assassins are forbidden to do. He killed someone on neutral ground.

The neutral ground was the Continental Hotel, a place where assassins can gather in New York City and not have to worry about getting shot in the face or stabbed in the back. When Wick killed someone on the grounds of the hotel, he immediately became unprotected among his fellow assassins and a $14 million bounty was put on his head.

That’s where we pick up the story in chapter 3 as Wick is trying to make his way to the New York Pubic Library before 7 p.m. which is when it becomes open season on his head. Technically, no one can attack Wick until 7, but assassins aren’t exactly tied to the clock, so a fight promptly breaks out in the library where Wick proves a book can still be the most deadly weapon you can wield.

From there Wick starts dipping into his past, trying to find a way out from under the $14 million bounty, which helps us learn where Wick got his fighting ability from. And that’s an important thing to find out. Unlike “The Matrix,” where Reeves fighting abilities were just computer programs, you always had to wonder how Wick somehow learned fighting abilities that allowed him to defeat literal Japanese Ninjas. Watch this movie and you’ll find out.

The first two John Wick movies were violent, but this one takes it to a whole new level. I don’t know if anybody sat down and counted the deaths, but it has to easily reach into triple figures. The preferred method of killing is a gunshot to the head, but you also have stabbings, falls, choking and dog bites to the groin, though it’s usually a shot to the head that finishes that particular act.

Aside from making a wildly stylish movie that looks stunning on the screen, it’s kind of hard to figure out what the movie makers are going for here. Showing us a secret world that doesn’t actually exist? That you can somehow hide hundred of bullets somewhere on your body? That if you wind up in the wrong foster family you’ll end up a world class assassin?

The action scenes in this movie are incredible. It has everything from Reeves using horses as weapons (don’t worry. The horses weren’t even fake harmed), to the aforementioned deadly book killing scene to Halle Berry using well trained German Shepherds as lethal weapons.

You’ll have a great time and move around in your seat a little as you watch Wick fight wave after wave of assassins, both one at a time and in groups and while you’ll know the title character can’t lose any of these fights, you’ll still worry a little.

Reeves looks suitably rough and tumble here, sporting a weathered face and memories of a dead wife (and dead dog), determined to stay alive so he can remember her, because if he’s dead and can’t remember her, she’s truly gone. Or something like that.

In one way, “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum,” (I think Parabellum is Italian for declare war, but don’t quote me on that) can’t be recommended highly enough. It’s nonstop action and heart pounding excitement.

On the other hand, there’s very little story, characters are cardboard cutouts and the insane amount of killing becomes ridiculous after awhile. But you know what kind of movies you like, so make the decision.

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