JOHN Wick is a curious phenomenon.
A film about a deadly assassin who comes out of retirement to avenge the murder of his dog shouldn’t have made it past the pitch stage, let alone become a financial and critical success that has now spawned two sequels.
But it has succeeded through a mix of superbly choreographed hyper-stylised violence, interesting characters and never taking itself too seriously.
Each film has also built on the original, with Chapter 2 expanding on the world of assassins Wick inhabits and Chapter 3 revealing the hierarchy that will decide his fate.
Chapter 3 picks up immediately where Chapter 2 left off, with Wick (Keanu Reeves) now ‘ex-communicado’ because of his actions and pursued by every assassin in New York City.
In the opening minutes, he kills a potential assassin with a large tome of Russian literacy, leaving you in no doubt about the tone of the film.
It’s the first of many extended, and often silly, action sequences, including a high-speed chase through the streets of New York with Wick astride a horse.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that in attempting to raise the bar, the violence becomes brutal, gratuitous and unrelenting.
When the film finally pauses for a breath, we learn more about Wick’s past, the High Table that rules over the world of assassins and the lengths Wick must go to in order to survive.
There’s also time to focus a little on secondary characters, such as the Continental Hotel manager Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) who both face consequences of their own for helping Wick.
It all builds to a last stand for Wick, with director Chad Stahelski crafting yet another beautifully filmed, heart-pounding sequence.
But just when it seems as if we are about to close out one of the unlikeliest trilogy successes in recent cinema on a high note, the film hedges its bets leaving the door ajar for yet more sequels.
But you know what you’re getting with John Wick and Parabellum continues to deliver.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (MA15+)
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry
In cinemas: Now
Review by: Dave Friedlos