The biggest thing I liked about the original John Wick is how it tried to stick with realism in its action scenes. Parabellum throws most of that out the window in lieu of bigger action scenes and set pieces. The results are less human, less believable action scenes. Even still, if you can suspend your disbelief, John Wick 3 is a fun action movie.
John Wick 3 picks up directly after the end of John Wick 2. John Wick is on the run and has only an hour until the contract on his head is put into effect. John’s efforts at survival eventually lead him to more characters in the secret assassins world and to a chance in which to get his contract canceled.
The movie can be divided into three parts. The first part is John fighting to survive immediately after his contract goes into effect. This was easily the best part of the film. The creativity in the action scenes are some of the best I’ve ever seen. There were many places where I openly said “whoa” as John found more and more creative ways to kill people. I also enjoyed the little homage to revolvers and spaghetti Westerns.
The second part is a bit of a lull. This is where Halle Berry enters the story. She’s fine in the film and does quite a bit of action. If you watched the trailer, you’d know that dogs are involved in the action scenes. While good, I wished the dogs were used in even more creative ways, but I guess there’s a limit to what you can do with animals. I liked how John used horses more than how Halle Berry used dogs in this second part.
The third part is the conclusion and the big face off. If I were to sum up this part in two words, it would be armor and ninjas. What I really appreciate is the inclusion of the two guys from The Raid, another great action movie. Unfortunately this was likely the weakest of all the three parts of this movie. I felt like the ninjas could’ve killed John at any time and deliberately did stupid things so John could win in the end.
In fact, the third part highlights the overall weakness of this film. It’s not the story. Action movies like these don’t rely on a great story so I can forgive that. It’s the choreography of the action. In the first John Wick, you could literally count all the bullets he used and all the times he reloaded. In this movie, that gets thrown out the window. There were times in the second part where it seemed Halle Berry had infinite bullets. Even more egregious was how it often seemed like John would lose a fight or die, only to be spared by the enemy for no reason. Actually, John should have lost the fight plenty of times, but enemies deliberately slowed down or made fight decisions that were dumb.
In the first film, the only time this happened in my memory was when they captured John and interrogated him in the church rather than kill him. Even then, the only reason he survived was because the sniper was watching him and if they didn’t interrogate him, it was likely the sniper would have saved him anyway. Here, they just deliberately do dumb things and John often wins against enemies he should lose to. John’s supposed to be the apex predator. He doesn’t look that way here, yet wins the fights because plot. Further, there’s supposed to be some sort of tactical reason that John always wins that’s grounded in realism. By the end of the movie, that’s mostly gone.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but the action scenes lacked the intimacy and realism of the first movie. I wanted to see scenes where John wins action scenes because of action oriented reasons and tactical reasons, not plot armor where a character decides to spare him or does something ridiculous that conflicts with what has been established with that character.