Before we start this review, let’s get three things straight right off the bat.
I’m a sucker for action films.
I’m a sucker for world-building.
I’m a sucker for stylized violence in action films.
With that being said, it’s very apparent that the John Wick films feel like they are specifically tailored to check off every interest box I have. They contain everything I look for in an action film: well-choreographed and coherent action, stylized visuals, steady camerawork with minimal shaky-cam, and top-notch world-building.
John Wick 3 begins right where John Wick 2 ended. John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is now ex-communicado from The Continental, and has an active bounty of $14 million on his head. John Wick must fight off hordes of people who have not yet learned to stop fucking with this guy (seriously, why do people still try?!) while he tries to find ways to get this massive bounty off his head and work his way back to the High Table and Continental.
One of my favorite things about this series is how every film has raised the stakes for John Wick little by little.
The first movie, simply titled John Wick, is the story of a grieving widowed man who seeks revenge on those who took away the last living remembrance he had of his dead wife – the puppy she left him. It’s a simple story, yet we connect to it so thoroughly because the loss feels so human and sincere.
In John Wick 2, things are escalated when John gets dragged back into the life of a hit-man when the nigh-untouchable High Table is introduced. Although this story is less personal, we already connect to John Wick emotionally because of the events that happened in the first film. John Wick 2 takes advantage of the fact that the audience is already so bought-in to this world and it’s characters and decides to open up the world just a bit more, introducing us to the concept of “markers”, the High Table, The Bowery King, The Continental and the world of assassins as a whole.
John Wick 3 takes this pattern and continues to expand the world little-by-little. In this film, we learn John Wick’s true name (Jardani Jovonovich), some more about Winston and the Continental,, the Adjudicator, the High Table and some more about the more powerful players in the world of assassins. In a series where John Wick goes from catalyst to pawn as the world grows around him, the very idea of John Wick 4 excites me more than any other previous John Wick installment.
But enough of that, let’s talk about John Wick 3.
John Wick 3 continues to solidify this series as one of the best action series of all time. Highly stylized with it’s own identity, these films feel like such a breath of fresh air in an era of Hollywood where it seems like every other film being released is a remake, re-boot, or superhero film. The film has some of the best choreographed fight scenes I’ve seen in Hollywood in quite some time, and due to the steady camera work during the film’s action sequences, these scenes are easier and much more satisfying to watch.
In regards to the action, It feels like there’s less “gun-fu” in this John Wick when compared to the others. There’s more of a focus on knife and sword fights (which is fine by me), with the occasional fist-to-fist brawl thrown in there. Although don’t get it twisted, many people get shot in this movie. The gun fight sequences are up there with the best of the series, especially the film’s final gun sequence that takes place inside the Continental. The sound design continues to be top-notch, and the passion Keanu Reeves and the filmmakers put into every gun sequence is astounding. Seriously, John Wick builds his own gun from scratch before blowing someone’s head off. It’s refreshing seeing films treat their guns realistically, and I never knew how much I’d love seeing Keanu Reeves reload a gun mid-fight.
The acting was all-around pretty good, which is normal for these John Wick movies. Laurence Fishburne continues to ham it up and chew on the scenery, and Halle Berry’s character was a great addition to the story. Asia Kate Dillon was fantastically irritating as the Adjudicator, and new ninja-like assassin group provided some great fights (the guys from The Raid need to be in every action movie ever).
One of my favorite things about this series is how real the consequences feel. John Wick is not some Superman-like figure who takes all these beatings without signs of slowing down. John bleeds, he visits doctors, he doubles over, he gets the ever-loving shit kicked out of him. But it makes it feel all the more real. Even though we know John Wick is gonna eventually kill those who try to get to him, there’s an ever-present sense of mortality and danger that lingers as we see John Wick continually take all these beatings.
The film also does a wonderful job of intertwining it’s action and serious bits with the perfect amount of dead-pan humor. It’s not quippy and out-of-place like The Last Jedi or some of the Marvel movies, but done in the spirit of the film.
Overall, this is a great addition to an already great series. After quite a bit of thinking, I can’t really say which is my favorite, as I feel they are equally fantastic. Each new film takes pieces of the old and adds to it, helping further flesh out an already amazing world.
I’ll keep watching these movies as long as they maintain this amount of quality, love and care.
Give me more John Wick.
Final Score: 4 out of 5