When I first caught wind of John Wick back in 2015, I was unsure of what to expect from this latest Keanu endeavour. I hadn’t seen the poster, let alone a trailer before I sat down to watch it in my brother’s living room. It was described to me as a “return to form”, or something to quench my thirst for Keanu + Kung-Fu action. The teal drenched frames began to roll out on his TV and 100 minutes later, I was ready for a second viewing.
A new heroic bloodshed tale happening before eyes, decades after John Woo pioneered the genre? I couldn’t believe it. Alas, there has been a renaissance in recent years of extremely well-executed actioners that strike fast and strike hard. The first Wick instalment had such an impact on me, that I used its superb nightclub sequence in a university sound design project (it wasn’t very good but I tried!).
Jump to 2017 and Chapter Two ended up as my favourite of the year. That movie took me to another god damn realm, so much so I ended up seeing it twice at its advance previews, each showing in a row. In an industry where sequels and expansion have increasingly become the norm, this companion piece doubled down on all the best parts that Wick had going for it. Elusive worldbuilding, intriguing traditions and characters all woven into a cocktail of supremely satisfying action.
While Chapter Two might have become understandably… a little too overblown for some audiences, it has set the foundations for what could be an arguably *perfect* trilogy.
It is hard for me NOT to be immensely excited for Chapter Three / Parabellum; but I also know that it’s important to temper my expectations. I’m sure that most of us build up our own idea of what a film should end up like once it’s on that cinema screen. We tailor images and rumours to fit our version of a project that isn’t even completed. That can be dangerous and a detriment to how I dissect a final product.
On the other hand… it’s also part of the fun. Now, unfortunately, I’m going to have to get into spoilers regarding Chapter Two. If you haven’t seen it, then I recommend coming back once you have. If you’re not bothered, then you’ve been warned.
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In the final moments of Chapter Two, Mr Wick is declared EXCOMMUNICADO by Winston, the owner of The Continental (New York branch) after murdering Santino on company grounds. However, he has a one hour grace period to escape the city with his life and his dog. After that, it’s open season for every other contract killer in the assassination underworld to claim their reward for Wick’s head.
Tyler Bates menacing score plays over Wick as he begins his escape. Fin.
I sat there in that cinema screen, jaw on the floor. While it’s common in the heroic bloodshed genre to leave a hero in peril or at an odd’s end, I was still honestly shocked that this is where the story ended up going. John Wick is basically done for. Despite all his immense skill and deadly tendencies, I wasn’t confident in his future going forward.
There will still questions to be answered and maybe they still won’t be come May 2019. Who the hell are the members of the High Table? How is Wick going to get out alive?
I have no doubt that Stahelski and co. will bring the same determination and passion in the next instalment, while still expanding on this neon noir landscape they’ve created. I mean, the latest set pictures show Reaves riding a damn horse through the city, in pursuit of bikers. Just declare it the best film of 2019 now, to be honest.
Narrative resolvement and expectations aside, what really excites me about is the prospect that this franchise came out of thin air from an independent stunt team because of their undying love for their craft. John Wick was a new canvas for them to explore and reinvigorate action filmmaking (with a healthy dose of Keanu).
It’s a superlative symphony of action filmmaking, waiting for its third act conclusion.
You can bet for sure that I will be there midnight showing / opening day when Chapter Three / Parabellum drops on May 16th 2019.