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Random Thoughts: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, or This Is Action Porn at Its Finest

"Are these direwolves?"

•This film is porn. No, not that kind of porn. It's action porn, and we have lots of it. There's still a story, of course, because this is a franchise, and no film franchise is built on the back of a gimmick alone. This film has a narrative, yet at the same time, there's also a ridiculous amount of action. And it's not just the running time of the action sequences; it's also the intensity of these scenes that makes John Wick what it is.

•Remember in the first John Wick when we hear about the anecdote of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) killing guys with a pencil? And how in John Wick 2, we actually see him kill guys with a pencil? Well, that's nothing. A pencil is a sharp object, after all, of course it can kill! In Parabellum, we see John Wick kill someone with a book. Not a flimsy pocket paperback, obviously, but still. Killing someone with a book!

•I've always been a fan of big dogs. I'm okay with small dogs, only because I won't be spending as much on food. But big dogs I really like, because these are closest to wolves. After seeing the canine action sequence with none other than Halle Berry, I now want an attack dog of my own. Not for attacking people, but for farting stars and puking rainbows.

•For those of you who haven't seen an action sequence on horseback, let me tell you that Parabellum's horseback action sequences are probably the best ever in the history of cinema. That's saying a lot, since one of the earliest motion pictures was about a horse galloping, so it's about time horses got the onscreen badassery they deserve. A horse kicking a thug in the face, I mean, come on!

•Okay, so how's this for a realisation: John Wick isn't actually American. His real name is Jardani Jovanovic. So he's an immigrant. Or a child of immigrant. Either way, it leans toward the trope that the best assassins are imported from Eastern Europe, what with those scenes of ballerinas and Greek wrestling (and detached toenails! Ugh). I guess it adds to the film's international flavour.

•I enjoyed the scenes with Anjelica Huston, but I enjoyed the scenes with Halle Berry more. This film is already a testosterone-filled ride as it is, and it's too bad scenes with strong women such as Anjelica Huston and Halle Berry weren't enough to balance the scales of manliness. I hope future films in the franchise can give us a great female antagoinst.

•I love Mark Dacascos. Older cinephiles know who Mark Dacascos is: a great martial artist with Filipino blood. The last time I saw him onscreen was in 2001's Le Pacte des Loupes (The Brotherhood of the Wolf), where he played a Native American in the early French colonies in the Americas. Here he plays a Japanese assassin, more than a match for John Wick himself. How come Filipinos rarely play Filipinos onscreen?

•Jerome Flynn, more popularly known as Bronn in Game of Thrones, was sadly underused. He can play a believable villain, especially with his seemingly natural douchebaggery, but I believe his thespian skills can also make him a believable good guy. Sadly, we're not going to find that out now, because the filmmakers killed him off. Too bad, Mr. Flynn.

•The best thing about the entire John Wick franchise is its action. The fight scenes have this realism to it, like you're actually watching two people having a go in an alley behind a bar. It doesn't have the flashy choreography of something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Kill Bill, but that's because the story doesn't call for it. The John Wick films pay tribute to the dark and seedy underworld of assassins for hire, and the realistic approach to the fight scenes gives it the believable grit it needs to keep viewers cringing. Also, that scene with the knife being stabbed in the eye just makes me shudder. They didn't have to make it that realistic.

•For the next installment, I hope we get more heavy hitters for the High Table. Of course, it is inevitable that we get to meet the High Table, because as film franchises grow, so do its cinematic universes, so it only makes sense that the universe of John Wick slowly unravels for the audience. For a council with so much power, I was expecting a bigger, grander High Table. Here in Parabellum, the closest we get to the High Table was in that desert scene (where Wick cuts his finger off, ugh). It's not bad, though. Come to think of it, for an organisation as cloak-and-dagger as the High Table, I guess meetings in the desert are standard practise.

Of course there'll be a dog in John Wick 4. It's a running joke.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. USA. 2019.

Original rating: 8.2
No Halle Berry nudity: -0.1
Laurence Fishburne: +0.1
Neo, Morpheus, and the Keymaker reunion: +0.1
No Aisa Kate Dillon nudity: -0.1
Lance Reddick from The Wire: +0.1
Ian McShane: +0.1
Jason Mantzoukas: +0.1
Chad Stahelski's direction: +0.1
Final rating: 8.5


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