OK, so. The John Wick movies.
Alongside Mad Max: Fury Road the first John Wick is one of the two greatest action movies of the 2010’s. There really is not much else that even comes close. Takashi Miike is out there crafting brilliance like only Takashi Miike can with the likes of 13 Assassins and Blade of the Immortal, but aside from that and The Raid movies—both of which count more as martial arts movies rather than straight action, and there is a marginal if significant difference between the two—the Wick/Max axis reigns supreme. (Shit, I’d even go as far as saying that John Wick is one of the finest action movies of all time, never mind the 2010’s; and that Fury Road is one of the best movies of all time. But that’s a conversation for another moment.)
There are plenty of other worthy players putting out good-to-great action spectacle out there, but in terms of combining that action with deep world building, stellar characterisation, and overall quality writing, it doesn’t get much better than these two. (And yes, I am aware I had a less than rapturous reaction to John Wick: Chapter 2 upon initially leaving the cinema but, having let it breathe for a while, I revisited it a few times since and I now find myself closer in line with TK’s positive review.)
Anyway the point is that here at Pajiba the Wick movies are a Big Deal. We love them, we look forward to them, and we have been following the development of the third entry in the series very closely indeed. You notice I say ‘third entry in the series’, rather than ‘final entry in the trilogy.’ That’s on purpose. Yes, by all accounts the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is meant to be the denouement to Keanu Reeves’ blood-soaked rampage through grief and vengeance, but you know what? In my head things ain’t gonna shake out that way. No, no. Reeves and (director) Chad Stahelski are 100% gonna go the Richard Linklater Before Trilogy route. Oh yeah, mark my words. Nine years from now, we’re gonna get another Wick trilogy. Reeves and Stahelski will be reunited with David Leitch by chance. It’ll be beautiful.
One of the great virtues of the Wick series is how it has gradually and organically grown its cast. It has added legendary actors like Laurence Fishburn into its detailed tapestry, and it has done it in a wonderfully low key way, with the big names enriching the central story without overshadowing it. The actors bring their gravitas and skill to relatively small but colourful parts in such a way so as to deepen the already rich parallel world the series has created. John Wick: Chapter 3 looks set to continue this trend, with Hollywood royalty Anjelica Huston stepping into a supporting role, and the frankly-underappreciated-these-days Halle Berry taking on a relatively meaty role as mysterious and deadly woman Sofia from the on-the-run John Wick’s past.
Part of the reason why the John Wick movies work as well as they do is Reeves’ dedication to doing as much of his own stunt work as possible. He trains and trains and trains and as a result the camera gets to actually stay on him, showing us the man himself performing these fluid and demanding movements, instead of cutting away and back again in blurry close up to hide the stunt double switch up. It makes all the difference in the world. 52-year old Halle Berry, metal as she is, has not slacked in her preparation for her Wick debut, speaking repeatedly of her passion for the project and reportedly breaking three ribs while training for the movie. As an audience, we will have to wait a few days to reap the rewards of that dedication, but here is a taster—Berry running through a firearms training course like the absolute boss that she is:
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is out in theaters and IMAX worldwide on May 17, 2019
Header Image Source: YouTube