Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Keanu Reeves in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

In “Full Metal Jacket,” Private Joker quips, “I want to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture, and kill them.” This could be the motto of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” in which the titular super-assassin (Keanu Reeves) battles armies of ethnically diverse, and yet basically indistinguishable, henchmen. The film’s plot is essentially a mechanism for shuttling the audience between fight scenes. Everyone is out for vengeance or something similar.

The performances are all over the map: Jerome Flynn is enjoyably hammy, whereas Asia Kate Dillon of “Billions” is totally devoid of charisma or screen presence. The only people onscreen whose brilliance cannot be doubted are the stunt performers and Reeves, who rarely uses a double here. Director Chad Stahelski, who doubled for Reeves in “The Matrix,” captures his action in elegant long takes. The violence is judiciously enhanced with computer effects in a way that never undermines its impact.

Stahelski’s brawls are accomplished with Glocks, flintlock pistols, knives, axes, Bentleys, books, fists and feet. His choreography is always inventive and often quite funny. One scene, in which Wick steers a horse around a stable so that it kicks various henchmen to death, is pleasingly absurd. On the other hand, watching a man have a knife driven into his eye is still basically an unpleasant experience.

Is expertly choreographed brutality enough to keep you happy for two hours, or will it merely get on your wick? One way or the other, this film holds the answer.