Fans of the John Wick series of films will find a lot to enjoy in the newest film — "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" — but they also might get bored by more of the same.
Since the John Wick franchise does not appear to be broken, the filmmakers apparently saw no reason to fix anything. “Chapter 3” is the same as the first two films: a nearly non-stop action thrill ride featuring crazy stunt fights, cool car chases and a whole mess of dead bodies. But three films into the franchise, even those things can start to feel repetitive.
Especially when there’s probably going to be a fourth film in a couple of years where they'll do it all over again.
John Wick, a highly skilled assassin, has broken the rules of the international assassin enterprise to which he belongs. He is ex-communicated from the organization and a $14 million bounty is placed on his head, making him a target for every other killer and triggerman in the world.
In the new film, John must call upon what few allies he has left to try and bargain for his life — while killing anybody and everybody who gets in his way.
The magic of the John Wick films, especially the first one, is that they are simple movies. John Wick is just a really cool, highly skilled killer on a quest for revenge, with most other concerns stripped away. The franchise is just pure, unadulterated, R-rated violence and action.
And “Chapter 3” continues that simplistic style. There are a lot of great fight scenes in the new film, buoyed by tension and some solid character development and world-building. But therein lies one of the main problems with the third film: the world-building is getting a little out of hand.
In the first movie, John Wick was a retired assassin who used to work for a top mobster in New York City, and he sought revenge against that mobster and his family after they killed John Wick’s dog. Simple, easy; made for a great movie. But with that revenge story settled at the end of the first film, these sequels have been forced to lean harder into all of that international assassin enterprise stuff. That was only supposed to be a touch of flavor added to the first film. It was icing on the cake.
In “Chapter 3”, there’s now more icing than cake. There are so many layers to this enterprise, so many new characters who ramble on about rules and history and currency and a million other things. The John Wick franchise is in danger of getting bogged down in the very complexity it sought to avoid.
And it doesn’t help when the action is starting to get repetitive. How many faceless, nameless henchman can John Wick shoot? How many panes of glass can he be thrown through? How many other highly skilled assassins does he have to defeat in one-on-one combat?
The John Wick franchise became popular because of its simple and enjoyable action filmmaking. Three movies deep, it’s starting to get a little bloated.