You don’t need to know much about the backstory and story bits of the John Wick films apart from the following synopsis: former super assassin gets mad after his dog died and his car stolen; he kills a LOT of bad people who probably deserve it. That premise worked in the first film, and it worked in the second film.
Does the third film elevate it beyond that? No, but it didn’t need to because the action and stunts are all that matters.
All you need to know is this: infamous hitman John Wick is on the run from the many, MANY assassins going after his US$14 million bounty ever since his “excommunicado” status from the Continental in the second film. So it’s up to him to buy some time to keep on living, cashing in long-term favours from old disgruntled contacts.
To its credit, the show’s special Continental hotel (a safe haven for assassins who pay using special assassin coins) and the High Table organization (the giant overseers that sort these contracts and hits out) get fleshed out a bit more. That’s nice for a few of you who want to see this film become its own fleshed-out universe with some semblance of its logic and plot threads.
Stay Awhile, Stay Forever
But enough about the fluffy world-building and story bits. You’re here to watch John Wick become super-assassin and super-killing folks left and right, and this film delivers a lot of that. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen and production designer Kevin Kavanaugh keeps the vistas and shots glossy and heightened, while also adding in some new elements to satiate the eyes and ears of franchise followers.
Get ready for:
-creative uses books,
-a knife fight in a knife shop,
-a horseback battle against motorcycles,
-amazing foley and sound work to make each hit, gunshot, and attack matter,
-and even more reasons not to piss off dog owners especially when they have two of them,
-And let’s not forget the “sushi” ninjas led by “Iron Chef” Mark Dacascos,
-coupled with a glass maze-like final battle with this chapter’s boss.
As ever, main star Keanu Reeves who plays the title character still exudes badassness and some semblance of silent charm. As a determined person who solves every problem with breakthrough solutions, this usually nets him satisfyingly bloody and battered results.
New additions like Halle Berry (Sophia, the aforementioned dog owner), Asia Kate Dillon as the purposefully pragmatic & robotic Adjudicator, Angelica Houston as The Director, and Dacascos as half-chef-half-ninja Zero all shine with their action scenes and entertaining interactions with the legendary hitman.
Old faces like Ian McShane’s Winston, Lance Reddick’s Charon, and Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King also get their scenes, though the former two have a bigger role concerning John’s excommunicado status from the hotel and its services. It doesn’t get in the way of the main attraction, as they’re timed and paced just well to give us a breather from its freneticism.
Even The Raid Indonesian ass-kickers Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman get their moment to shine against Keanu in a mid-boss fight. Hell, the more I think about it, the more this series is a Platinum Games script adapted into an American show; more grounded gunplay and less wire fightfests. That’s not a knock against the entire film at all.
In fact, you’ll have a tough time coming up with a better action film that can top this John Wick entry. There’s really nothing else to elaborate here; this action orgasmic thrill-ride needs to be seen to be believed.
Yes, cinema fans of yore; old-school practical effect action films can still work in this day and age especially if done well. And this third Keanu Reeves-starring force of nature does it with style and substance.
FINAL RATING: 90/100