Well, sometimes you gotta cut a ***********.
I’m not going to call the second film in the John Wick series a misstep, because I still enjoyed the heck out of it, but it was, in my opinion, a step down from the first film. With this film, the franchise is back on track and this one is right up there with the first film, maybe even better. I don’t know that I have a lot to say about it. I think Reeves is better; the second film tried to go for a grander, more operatic, almost gothic feel and it called on him to deliver some lines that he wasn’t really that able to sell. Here’s he’s really good, however. And the film has some fantastic set pieces, something else the second film was a hair less interested in than the first one. There’s an amazingly choreographed sequence involving two attack dogs that is downright stunning in terms of the way the dogs are used; this has got to be some of the best animal training ever in the movies. The finale takes place in a bizarre setting that’s almost entirely glass; it also features a huge screen constantly flooding the area with shiftings lights and colors and it’s absolutely stunning to look at. The best action sequence comes pretty early in the film. It operates on the maxim that it’s a bad idea to bring a knife to a gunfight, but what if you bring A HUNDRED knives to a gunfight? What then? Well, carnage, non-stop carnage actually for most of the running time of this film, though the film has plenty of artistry to go around and plenty of great performances. Angelica Huston is operatic as the head of a Russian ballet troupe and Ian McShane is as deliciously wicked as ever. And Laurence Fishburne is pitch perfect, stealing every scene he’s in as the Bowery King; I thought he was ill-served by John Wick 2 with almost no memorable moments, but in this one, he delivers some of the best lines of the film and provides some of its biggest laughs. Asia Kate Dillon is excellent as an icy Adjudicator sent to investigate the goings on and Said Taghmaoui, late of Wonder Woman, gets off a fantastic one scene role as the highest authority in the hitman universe. And the film does do a great job expanding that universe in ever more intriguing ways and the film ends by promising a fourth film to come with ever more carnage and a journey deeper and deeper into that labyrinthine world. It’s surprising to come upon a third entry in a franchise that’s maybe the best of the bunch. Continuing that climb with a great fourth entry seems nigh onto impossible. But then John Wick is always at his best when the odds are against him. Bring it on. 4 stars.
tl;dr – third film is maybe the best of the franchise with great performances, incredible atmosphere, striking visuals &, of course, some of the most graceful ultraviolence you’ve ever seen. 4 stars.