John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

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I’ve always love looking at Ian McShane on screen. He’s got such an interesting face. Yet when I hear him say the word “excommunicado” about 53 times, I get a bit tired of it. And this is a 2 hour and 20 minute movie.

I’ve never been a fan of non-stop fighting scenes. I think I was around 13-years-old and watching a Chuck Norris movie when I said to myself…this is garbage. Now, the first John Wick was a little bit of fun (even though it’s highly overrated). There was just something about a retired hitman that gets back in the game, not because of that “one last score” but to avenge the death of a puppy his late wife sent him.

The second John Wick bored me, and this third one is just a mess. One fight scene after another. You start to wonder how he doesn’t have broken hands, broken ribs, or why when five people fight him they don’t just all charge him at once. My wife even said, when two bad guys in two different cars both hit him as he was crossing the street, why they didn’t just shoot him there. Instead, they let him stand up, and limp off into a horse stable (which did create a fun fight scene). The friend I brought with me, who loves the John Wick series, leaned in and said at that point, “You should mention how great the sound is in this.”

I was at least happy to find out later, that he disliked the movie almost as much as I did.

Other idiotic things about this film that I couldn’t help but wonder about. Why when people were fighting Wick and wanting to kill him, did they never finish the job? Now, I’ve never cared when people say, “It makes no sense how James Bond is running around and people are unloading machine guns on him, and not one bullet hits.” What does bother me about the Bond movies is that the bad guy always takes the time to explain his devious plan to Bond, right before killing him…only to be stopped, and then Bond knows what needs to get done to stop it all. In this movie, what annoyed me was having assassins get the upper hand on Wick, only to stop fighting to tell him “what big fans we are of your work” or whatever pablum they said (hey…new title for this movie: John Wick 3: Palbum). Wick even did this. He’d be in a fight with somebody, and as the guy was crawling away, he could just stab him with a sword from behind. Instead, he drops the sword, gets in front of the dude to start punching him, only to have the fight start up again.

I had a teammate on my high school basketball team that kept a ledger of how many people were killed in each movie he saw. He was a bit odd, but we loved going to him after the latest Schwarzenegger film and asking how many deaths there were and getting a number. It was even more fun when he’d have to explain how in certain scenes when a building blew up, he had to estimate how many folks would’ve been inside. Well, I thought about how in this movie it would be more interesting if he did a tally on the various types of deaths. It would look something like this:

Gun shots to the head — 72 people.

Kicks to the crotch — 19 people.

Bites to the crotch (from German Shepherds that Halle Berry trains) — 15 people.

Stabs to the head: 9 people.

Stabs to the eyeball: 1 person.

Thrown knife causing death: 4 people.

Crashed motorcycle death: 8 people

Death by Russian novel shoved into mouth: 1 person (that was a fun fight scene, with 7’3” NBA star Boban Marjanovic, who reminded me of Richard Kiel [Jaws] in the ‘70s Bond films).

I could go on and on, but you get the point. And really, is that entertainment? If it is for you, you’re going to have a blast (no pun intended). I just think when there aren’t any stakes involved, because you don’t care about any of the people, and it all starts to look the same (punch to the stomach, pin guy against wall, shoot in the head, splatter of blood out the back of head)…it gets tiresome. Once in awhile it’s mixed up by something like an underwater head shooting, and that’s mildly amusing. I’ll admit, I also smiled when guys were smashing display cases to get antique knives to throw at each other (some hitting, some not).

I was at an event where I heard stuntman, now director, Chad Stahelski talk about this picture. Halle Berry was also talking about the 8 months of training she did. I don’t remember a lot of what she said because…I was 20 feet from her, and just staring at that beautiful face and those legs. Yet watching her in this movie made me wonder why Stahelski didn’t yell “cut” and make her do the scenes again, so her acting could at least look believable. Her fighting also didn’t look all that believable. She was just awful in this.

The movie takes place right after the second one, where Wick is running through the streets, and a bounty is being placed on his head because of a shooting at the Continental Hotel, which is supposed to be the place all the hitman can go and chill, read USA Today, without worrying about others killing them. So the “High Table” is done with him, and they may even be done with the hotel (I don’t want to spoil everything). So they send a woman adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) who can just walk in and tell everyone how things are going to be. She also duals out punishment to people that let Wick live (although I did wonder why that was so bad, considering Wick wasn’t “excommunicado” at that point). She’ll pick up a phone and make a call, and your life is over. It makes you wonder why, as the woman speculated in the screening audience I was at when she yelled out, “Just shoot her in the back!!”

Why doesn’t Wick or Winston or the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) just do that? Oh, and when I think of Keanu Reeve’s Matrix co-star being in this, I also wondered about Anjelica Huston, who is some kind of Russian mobster that brow beats future ballerina stars. She helps Wick escape to Casablanca, because…there’s apparently some backstory about Wick being from a Russian orphanage. My wife kept asking me about these backstories (since she didn’t see the first one). I couldn’t recollect any of them, but I suspect they just made ‘em up as they went along. They did that with Sofia (Halle Berry) and their history together. Oh, but back to Huston. Here is this legendary actress, who recently made the news for making fun of the women in Poms for doing such a horrible film. Now, she may have a point about Poms, but when you’re in this trash, you have no room to comment on any other films actresses choose to make.

Easily the most uninteresting character in this is Zero (Mark Dacascos). He’s a sushi-chef that the Adjudicator asks to put down the sushi knives, and pick up slightly bigger knives, to help her kill Wick. His many scenes were always laughably bad; especially their final fight scene, which is in some bizarre house of mirrors room that made no sense, that’s perhaps a tribute to the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon. I suppose you can give the movie credit for the interesting set pieces, and a few cool stunts. The locales have Wick in Times Square, Casablanca, the Sahara (with some bottled water that Halle Berry spit into, which made absolutely no sense).

One thing that popped into my mind, every time a new set of thugs would be dispatch to kill Wick…I thought of the 1979 movie The Warriors, with the various gangs fighting. I thought that movie was fun when I was 10-years-old watching, but not as much when I saw it as a 25-year-old.

I also felt that only a 10-year-old would like watching some of the bad CGI in this. One of those scenes involves a dog climbing up a huge wall, that defies gravity in a goofy way. Another time, when a horse kicks someone…it would’ve been cool if it didn’t look so fake. And they did it two times!

One of the other frustrating things about this movie is it doesn’t play by their own rules that are set up. I won’t get into all of that, though. Sometimes discussing that creates spoilers.

I saw that Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave this 4 stars out of 4 stars. His former co-critic Roger Ebert must be rolling in his grave.

I’m giving it 1 ½ stars out of 5, and I’m being generous.




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