John Wick’s Neon Bloodbath Is Just Like You Remember It

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John Wick’s Neon Bloodbath Is Just Like You Remember It

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Story By: Tommy Tribble, Editor-in-Chief

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“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” sees the return of Keanu Reeves’ titular, stylish assassin and his bizarre bureaucratic underworld of contract killers. It’s a world just beneath our own, where bounties are decreed by secretaries in thick-rimmed glasses, where the Continental Hotel offers sanctuary to contract killers in exchange for gold coins, and where words like parley hold weight.

At the end of the second film in the franchise, Wick found himself excommunicated from the world order of assassins, ruled by a shadowy organization called the High Table. All assassin work is to be done under the Table, and it has banished him.

He has only an hour before all of the resources afforded to an assassin will be stripped away, like the doctors and arms dealers who’ve helped him in the past.

This promises a high stakes film where our beloved killer is cut off from every traditional avenue, every safe haven. He will have nowhere to turn, and all of his oldest allies will turn on him. Fan favorites like Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental Hotel, and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) have the potential to return in much different forms here.

Potential.

The first twenty minutes of Parabellum are extremely tense. The film picks up just moments after the end of the previous chapter. Wick is wounded, tired, and an hour away from being completely alone in a world full of killers.

Still, Wick always seems to find his way back into assassin society through convenient means, whether it’s the Russian family that first trained him, or Sofia (Halle Berry) the dog-toting murderess managing another branch of the Continental.

The film’s persistent themes of consequences, service, and the reckoning with one’s past all play out through Wick’s connections with these characters. Many suffer for whatever meager help they offer him.

Still, with a premise like this one we expect Wick to be a little more DIY this time. We expect him to struggle to find weapons, and struggle against a reality where every assassin in the world is out for his blood. We expect him to adapt to an entirely new world order.

We see glimpses of this theoretical film, like when Wick is forced to murder someone with a copy of “Dante’s Inferno.” No, really.

But for the most part this is another John Wick movie that never really shakes the table. While he’s excommunicado, he still moves fluidly through the shadow world of assassin. He always has a gun. And he has friends with attack dogs.

Parabellum does little to challenge Wick’s worldview or his state of affairs and it does little to change the status quo of the world of assassins. But what it does do is everything it’s ever promised and everything we’ve ever wanted: blood soaked neon.

John Wick films are just dope. There’s no other word for the extremely potent fight choreography, the inventive set designs, and the beautiful colors perfectly complimenting the splashing blood.

It’s rare to see a style film in 2019, with a cinematic landscape dominated by samey franchise fare determined to keep things as rote and safe as possible.

But this franchise has always been a beacon of style in that vast, boring darkness.

Every scene is a new, vivid environment. We go from the red lights and rain soaked streets of New York to vast deserts to a stablehouse to a gaudy gold arena of bloodshed. The variety on display here is breathtaking.

The fight scene featuring Sofia, her dogs, Wick, and dozens of unfortunate assassins-turned-victims is worth the price of admission alone.

The film’s greatest strength is the deft craftsmanship of the filmmakers that makes every action scene feel unique, stunning, and effortless.

Parabellum promises dramatic shake ups–Wick like we’ve never seen him before–but it delivers just another beautiful, stylish action movie. Is getting more of the same a bad thing? Especially when the “same” is cool as hell, and completely different from all the other franchises?

While the film ends promising a new installment that’s going to change everything, I’m not expecting anything to blow my mind. But I know my eyes are going to feast on another exquisite art piece of murder, painted with the most perfect shades of blood, sweat, and neon.

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