“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (Rated C)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane
If you need any further proof that there’s more wrong than right with the human race, and that humanity is all but lost in our world, just sit in a theater showing the new film “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”.
The guaranteed cheering and the laughing each time someone is brutally slaughtered onscreen is not an encouraging sign for our species.
Yes, when this franchise with Keanu Reeves in the eponymous role began back in 2014, it was indeed extremely violent. But there was something quite charming about its whimsicalness. Somehow this tale about a melancholy widower seeking revenge on Russian mobsters who stole his classic muscle car and killed his little puppy was relatable. We at least could understand his anger and need for vengeance.
How far this film has strayed from its playful and surprisingly amusing start! We saw the shift with the completely wacky “Chapter 2” two years ago. And this new addition is without a doubt nothing more than a celebration of violence.
At two hours and 10 minutes in length, there are only about three or four periods in which the killings stop long enough for some scenes of cartoonish dialogue. There are about four to five minutes each of drivel about complete nonsense: the High Table – the shadowy international assassin’s guild – and other silly-speak about rites or pledges and other garbage about their ridiculous killing fraternity.
Picking up where “Chapter 2” leaves off, Wick, after gunning down a member of the High Table, finds himself stripped of the organization’s protective services. Now stuck with a $14 million bounty on his head, he must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world’s most ruthless killers.
I can hear some of you now. And yeah, sure, “it’s just a movie!” and “it’s just escapist fun!” And that’s great – if you find watching hundreds of people getting shot to death in the head, or stabbed to death in the head, or getting sliced to pieces (including in their heads) with daggers and swords enjoyable. (Based purely on how it felt, I would say John Wick and friends kill at least 9,000 people during the film.)
And that “just a movie” argument is so weak. There’s probably a whole lot of stuff you wouldn’t want to see in a film, no matter how often I tell you “it’s just a movie”.
It’s simply mind-blowing that something like this could be greenlit and released today (or ever) knowing the unspeakable amounts of random gun violence today. When all we’re hearing about is gun violence, how does more gun violence equate to escapism?
But you say, “Stick to evaluating this as a movie, and keep your personal views about the subject matter to yourself!” Okay! Well, sure, the killings are all choreographed in an exuberant manner. It is undoubtedly stylish, and it looks nice. Even the scatter of the blood and the timing of the knives being inserted into eye sockets has a designer quality and precision to it. Halle Berry’s character has a pair of homicidal dogs that really kick butt.
But other than that, the whole thing is simply exhausting. Within 20 minutes of the nonstop exterminations, I just couldn’t take anymore. “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is someone’s childhood fantasy of beating up everybody on the playground at one time played out on the big screen. It’s little more than a cinematic videogame. And unfortunately, it looks poised to come back for more.
It might make more sense if we learned Wick was an X-Men-type mutant or robot or cyborg or alien. I could get onboard with that level of fantasy. And that would be the only way to explain how he can survive being thrown through what seems like 498 glass walls, and being shot, punched, kicked, dropkicked, sword-slashed and shot again, and again, and falling off multi-story buildings.
Otherwise, this is solely a stylish killing tutorial, and its popularity is a sad indictment on the current mental state of the human race.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.
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