John Wick 3 (2019)
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Written by: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins & Marc Abrams
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon & Lance Reddick
You know, there’s a part of me that was more excited about this film than Avengers: Endgame. I know, you may shun me now, but give me a moment. After the surprise hit of the first John Wick film, the second one seemed to realise that they may be onto something, so they started to build their world even further, and by the time the second film got released, they had built an audience that were so invested in the franchise that the third, and probably fourth entries, were not only anticipated, but already welcomed on board.
The reason that the film seems to be a hit, before it’s released, is the confidence that the audience have in the people that are involved in bringing it to the table. The direction from Chad Stahelski moves the film along at a break neck pace. The first twenty minutes of the film are breathtaking, and it very rarely lets up. The script, by Derek Kolstad, is so beautifully simple that Keanu seems to have about 20 lines of dialogue in the whole neon stained 131 minutes, and this is another reason everything works.
By now, we want to see the stylized violence, and highly choreographed fight scenes that have made this franchise so good, so what do they do? They give us it. Lots of it. Buckets of it, in seemless flowing set pieces, that are almost hypnotic in their presentation. The only reason you would drag your eyes from the screen, is to avoid what you know will be a gut wrenching ultra violent fatality that happens with such convention, that by the time it’s happened, you’re too late, you’ve seen it already.
Reeves is also doing everything he does best. Dispatching the ninja assassins, and rouges gallery of bounty hunters looking to cash in without emoting at all, is what we want Wick to do. And he does. The supports are also all on board, and it shows. The comic book characters that inhabit this graphic novel world, all have roles to play, and we know their roles, and once again they all do them. There is no disappointment in this film because the creative teams are all on the same page and pushing everything in the direction that the audience expects. You want John dispatching villains, you got it, you want assassins out for blood, you got it, you want dogs attacking people, tick that box.
The story, john is ex-communicated and there’s a bounty on his head, hurtles at you from the screen and only stops when the scenes have to switch John to different locations. There’s an almost Bond like feel to the Casablanca scenes, complete with Wick girl Halle Berry playing femme fatale, complete with ninja dogs, in a sequence nothing short of genius. The ballet scenes being rehearsed under the spotlights of The Director mirror the choreography of each and every action sequence, and by the time we get to the end of the screenplay, we are as exhausted as the dancers on the stage. There are of course moments of Wickian humor, and the director knows just when to land a punch line. The humour of course breaks the seemingly endless violent action sequences, giving the audience just a second to breathe, before we take off again.
This is a another master class in stylish action film making, and it’s delivered by a team at the top of their game. In case my tone is blurring here, I loved this film, Keanu was brilliant and is truly the only actor I can think of that could carry this sort of cartoon neo fantasy thriller, and make it a world with stories underneath stories that I would quite happily make several more visits to. The Wick-verse anyone?