Last time we saw John Wick he was running for is life, having broken the sacred covenant and killed an assassin on the hallowed ground of the Continental Hotel; a strict no-no in the world of underground assassins. His punishment: a $14 million bounty on his head, meaning the great, good, and not so good of New York City were now licensed to kill him. Ian McShane, his old friend, gave him a sporting chance – an hour to get as far as he could before the world and its guns descended.
This is the set up for Chapter 3, offering the tantalising prospect of Keanu Reeves fighting his way through two hours of increasingly complicated action scenarios. Does the movie deliver on this promise? Just about, but the filmmakers are shrewd enough to understand that two hours of fighting is not enough; for this franchise to prosper it must have some expansion of the mythology, some character building, and some sense of story, else you’ve just got a very good looking videogame with the star who, let’s face it, could be made of pixels.
Wick 3 is an entertaining movie with some very well-choreographed and highly enjoyable action violence. Things take a dip when John visits Morocco, Casablanca no less, to plea to a higher authority and terminate the assassins’ fatwa against him. It’s a necessary diversion if the story is going to continue beyond this instalment, but it arrests the momentum somewhat and introduces the unlikely concept of a worldwide assassins network headed by a sheikh in the desert.
When John returns to New York things pick up, and we’re treated to a great deal of strong balletic, intense murder. Said kills take place in imaginative settings, and makes good use of the props available, but are a little samey on account of each and every fight being planned by the same fight team. When making Chapter 4, the producers may wish to consider hiring different choreographers for different sequences in order to give the movie a little more visual variety, as John meet killers from different fighting traditions.
John Wick 3 may not be quite as tight or simple as the previous two instalments, but it’s a superior action movie for all that. It would be even better if Keanu Reeves could emote or deliver a line of dialogue, but he’s so good shooting, punching and kicking people, one can forgive him. Good luck in the next round, Keanu.