REVIEW: ‘John Wick 3’ thrills with top tier action

Mr. Wick is back and as the Latin phrase in this movie’s title implies, he’s going to war.

“John Wick: Chapter 3” picks off right after the events of the second film, so seeing that one is probably a good idea before checking this out. Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a man now on the run. After breaking the rules of the criminal underworld in part two, every assassin in New York City, and basically the world, are after him for a multi-million dollar bounty.

As a result, Wick searches for a way to reverse his predicament and atone for his transgressions. His journey brings him to Sofia (Halle Barry), a person from his past who decides to help him find someway to make amends. The quest remains a difficult one, though, as the group running crime at a worldwide scale want Wick, and anyone who’s helped him, eliminated.

From a story-perspective, the first “John Wick” remains the best of the trilogy. While both the last film and this one are well structured enough to hold the movie together, ultimately delivering the action that the audience wants, it does lack the narrative simplicity and straightforwardness the original “Wick” had.

The movie also didn’t need to have a runtime well over two hours. However, with that said, the film never feels too long thanks to the lightning fast pace the third “Wick” has.

The film gets going and only slows down here and there. Like most movies where a man is on the run, there’s not much time to rest as Wick is always looking over his shoulder, guessing when the next fight is going to take place. It provides tension and keeps an audience on their toes.

As for the action itself, “Wick 3” delivers in a major way. My only complaint is this aspect may have peaked a bit too early. There are some amazing fight and chase sequences featured in the first act that are some of the best put to screen. The choreography is well shot and the action is brutal.

However, they may have been too good, since the fights in the climax don’t quite match it. That’s not to say the other action sequences were bad. It’s more that the moments in the first act were great and those in the second and third acts were good. Technically, they were all on a high level, especially when it came to the sound design. Every punch, kick and gunshot comes across so much thanks to the strong sound work.

As for the acting, Reeves makes another solid entry as the ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ type of character. Additionally, this entry sees Wick as much more desperate and Reeves portrays this quite well in many moments.

Basically stealing the show in many scenes, though, is Berry who is a great addition to the franchise. She brings a perfect ‘femme fetale’ performance to the screen and makes for a great contrasting, but complementary character to Wick in every sequence they have together.

The picture also greatly benefits from the return of Ian McShane as Winston and Laurence Fishburne as Bowery. Both portray old, grizzled masters of the crime craft very well.

Overall, “Wick Chapter 3” delivers where it counts. The action is magnificent here and will keep a viewer engaged from start to finish. However, there are a few issues which drag it down, leaving the original “John Wick” film to remain at the top. 3.85 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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