Review: Keanu Reeves returns for third John Wick film
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Review: Keanu Reeves returns for third John Wick film

  • COURTESY LIONSGATE

    Keanu Reeves reprises his role as an assassin and Halle Berry portrays a dog trainer in “John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.”

At this point, the words “John” and “Wick” used together signify something very specific. Mostly: sharply choreographed, creatively efficient violence. We know there will be a brooding Keanu Reeves killing dozens (only because he has to). There will be eye-popping stunts and a network of sharply dressed assassins.

The film picks up directly after the second film ends, with a bloodied John (Reeves) running through the streets of New York, moments away from being declared “excommunicado” from secret assassin society the High Table for killing in the Continental Hotel. With a $14 million dollar bounty on his head, everyone in New York wants to kill John Wick, so now John Wick has to kill everyone in New York with whatever he has on hand.

Like most “John Wick” movies, the first two acts of “Parabellum” are a thrill of adrenaline and originality, the fights and stunts increasingly absurd. There is one jaw-dropping sequence with a book, and a scene with knives that renders all other knife fights meaningless. But like the other two “John Wick” movies, the third act is an interminable slog of violence that only leaves one feeling numb and number.

The lean story consists of a few growled lines of dialogue from Wick and some bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo exchanged between the representatives of the Continental and a stern High Table adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), who has arrived to clear things up.

There’s such a rich mythology in the eminently stylish Wickiverse, but “Parabellum” barely scratches the surface. We see a strange office, manned by rockabilly pin-up-style secretaries with arms full of Sailor Jerry tattoos shouting out status updates while chalking them on a board. John, seeking shelter, heads to a theater where Anjelica Huston marshals a combination ballet/wrestling school.

John Wick only kills when he has to, in self-defense. But when you’re the world’s best assassin, with a huge bounty on your head, a lot of people are going to try and kill you. What keeps him going? That question is answered, to poetic and tragic ends, when he says he lives simply to remember his wife and pup. Their memory lives in him, so if he lives, they live.

“JOHN WICK: CHAPTER THREE – PARABELLUM”

**1/2

(R, 2:10)

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