In only two movies, the John Wick franchise has gone from an edgy and stylish bullet flinger, to an artistic – virtually poetic – bonecrunching epic, a force as virtually unstoppable as Keanu Reeves‘ impeccably composed hitman. But now the enigmatic dog lover could be facing his toughest foe yet, one who has claimed many a hero both super and otherwise; I’m speaking of course of the trilogy syndrome, where the third act of your trio of movies shits the bed, so to speak, and lets the whole team down.
Well let me calm any fears you might of had and assure you that John Wick’s third pull of the trigger isn’t just the best of the trilogy but it’s probably one of the best pure action movies of the last few years.
Set under an hour after the events of the previous movie left our Mr. Wick “excommunicado” from the world’s fraternity of criminal wrong ‘uns and with merely an hours head start until every hit person in New York descends upon him for a huge chunk of cheddar. We join Keanu Reeves’ unstoppable murder maestro wounded, on the run and fighting off any chancers that have tried to jump the gun on the deadline. After a bout of library set book-fu and then a remarkable set piece located inside a weapons museum which just so happens to include one of the greatest knife fights you’ve ever seen (by the end of it some of the guys look like fucking pin cushions) AND THEN casually indulges in some brutality involving a HORSE as a fighting utensil, the film finally takes a breath.
It seems John’s iron will to survive has lead him to the Russian training school where he was trained as a young orphan (a long overdue welcome back to Angelica Huston using a close approximation of her accent from The Witches) where he calls in a favour that takes him all the way to Morocco to claim another favour from Halle Berry’s ferocious Shelia (there’s a lot of favours in this movie). Shelia and her show stealing attack dogs aid John in his quest to get out from under his contract by any means necessary which ultimately leads him back to The Continental, the crime-friendly hotel run by Ian McShane’s Machiavellian Winston. But due to his previous meddling in recent affairs, Winston may lose his hotel on the orders of the shadowy criminal overseers, The High Table, and so while the powers and alliances behind the scenes shift, a massive showdown is in order.
Where the John Wick movies have excelled (apart from their ground breaking action scenes) is the expansion of the near-mythical underworld that Wick and his peers operate in and here it expands ever further, taking in the aforementioned hitman school and a branch of the Continental in Casablanca but there’s still adequate time to check back in with Lawrence Fishburn’s boomy voiced vagrant kingpin, The Bowery King.
There’s an action movie guest list here too; not only is 90’s DTV action star Mark Dacascos present (and having a glorious time as an arch villain/John Wick fanboy, Zero) but so are the impressive duo of Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman from The Raid 2 who get to strut their awesome stuff.
Returning director Chad Stahelski now has the John Wick formula down – slick action, stunning sets, over the top supporting cast, Reeves as a zen force of nature – but we’re now in a stage where the series can reference itself to the great amusement of a savvy audience, check Wick’s reaction to the aftermath of when someone threatens one of Sofia’s gonad mauling attack dogs, or Zero’s over excited reaction to getting some quiet time with Wick.
From indie curio to A-list champ, there is more than ample room for a chapter 4 and frankly, it has to be a dead cert at this point (I’d even lay a gold coin on it) and much like how the Mission: Impossible franchise has blossomed and grown over the years, hopefully we can watch Reeves lose his Wick a fourth time sooner rather than later.