One of the most popular action franchises of recent years, John Wick rests solely on the shoulders of Keanu Reeves; whose effortless charisma and cool act as a perfect anchor for the escalating madness around him. With this third entry, the stakes get even higher as the entire assassin community is sent after Wick and he is forced to go on the run to survive. In turn, the action sequences themselves become bigger and more elaborate to create possibly the most thrilling and satisfying action film of the past decade.
It all started with a dog. The humble beginnings of John Wick’s story still resonate despite the snowball effect of his actions. From a story of revenge to one of survival, John Wick 3 capitalizes on the familiarity of its characters and themes to act as a vehicle for some of the most exaggerated set pieces ever put on screen. Everything becomes a weapon from firearms and antique knives to belts and even horses as Wick attempts to make his impossible escape. The first hour of the film is nothing but relentless carnage and immediately had the audience cheering and grimacing in their seats. While the following two acts also provided incredible scenes, there is a sense that director Chad Stahelski spoiled us too much early on as the film never rises to these heights again. Regardless, the film still remains captivating with only one or two scenes failing to put a big grin on my face. As a former stuntman himself, Stahelski understands perfectly how to stage and capture an action sequence. Long takes and in-camera effects allow a full view of the ‘Gun-Fu’ without the need for rapid editing to cheat the audience into being entertained.
Throughout all of this, credit must go to Keanu Reeves who delivers the complex stunts perfectly and imbues the entire role with a charm very few actors could offer. The role seems tailor-made to his strengths as a performer and grounds the films more absurd moments; never letting the action drown the character underneath. The same goes for the supporting characters who are exaggerated enough to remain memorable amidst the constant fighting. One of the main improvements from the previous films is in the primary antagonist. Mark Dacascos is the perfect foil for Wick as he balances the cool of Keanu with a frankly dorky comedic performance that offers a brilliant back and forth whenever the film slows down to let them speak.
John Wick 3 is a modern masterpiece in action cinema. While the plot is thin, the characters are strong and instantly iconic, allowing the imaginative and jaw-dropping action set pieces to have weight and meaning behind every pull of the trigger.