John Wick debuted in 2014 and proved that a simple story, executed well, can create an exceptional movie. In that chapter, we met John Wick, retired hit man, shortly after the death of his wife due to an extended illness. Knowing he would be alone, she arranged to have a beautiful puppy delivered to him after her funeral. John randomly encountered some thugs who stole his car and killed his puppy – he spends the rest of the movie hunting them down and killing them. Directed by Chad Stahelski, who has been Keanu’s stunt double since 1999’s The Matrix, the movie was fast and fresh, and who doesn’t want to see puppy murderers get what’s coming to them? By the end of that movie, he had found a new dog, and killed enough people that the High Table started to wonder if he was un-retired.
The second chapter in 2017 delved more into John’s hitman world, and the Continental, the hotel where they can seek refuge, but where they cannot conduct business. After a movie’s worth of folks trying to get John back into business, John breaks the rules and kills a guy on Continental grounds. That movie ends with John getting excommunicated, and a bounty getting taken out on his head with notice going to all the bounty hunters and assassins everywhere.
Chapter 3 picks up immediately thereafter. John has one hour to prep before his excommunicated status goes active and everyone begins coming after him. He gets his wounds tended as best he can as the time runs out. He then spends the rest of the movie attempting to find allies and backup while going to meet ‘the elder’ who operates above ‘the table’. The High Table is the organizing body of the association of hitmen, or at least, that’s what it seems. The Elder agrees to waive John’s sentence, if he comes back into service, and does a job for him. Things go awry from there, but we’ve already been guaranteed chapter 4. Eventually, hopefully, he will get back to his quiet life of retirement with his new dog.
This chapter is also directed by Chad Stahelski, and again features action sequences second to none. The hand to hand combat sequences are exceptional, and John does get to battle hordes of ninjas here. The gunplay is a bit excessive for me, but Keanu does it very well. Halle Berry’s character has two dogs she has trained to essentially function as extensions of her weapons and they are amazing, I have never seen anything quite like that before. The dogs and their interaction with her is one of the most exciting things in this movie. Neither of them get hurt – also, John’s dog is fine.
- Keanu Reeves is perfect as John Wick. He’s a man of few words, definitive actions, and a desire to get back to his retirement. But he also is not going to let anybody get away with pushing him around.
- Halle Berry plays Sofia, a woman who is running the Continental in Morocco and is less than thrilled to see John. She does what she can to help, and gets just a couple of scenes, but what incredible actions sequences they are.
- Ian McShane plays Winston, the manager of the Continental in New York. He’s either John’s closest friend or greatest enemy, and that seems to change from scene to scene, which makes him one of the most interesting characters in the movie.
- Lance Reddick plays Charon, the concierge of the New York Continental. He’s happy to dog-sit for John, and also not afraid to get his hands dirty when things get questionable.
- Laurence Fishburne plays the Bowery King who has a network of ‘homeless’ undercover assassins and information gatherers. He helps John, but ends up pissing off the Table with that action, which in turn, pisses him off.
- Mark Dacascos plays Zero, and I have been a fan of his for so long, since Only the Strong in 1993. It’s so wonderful to see him in this, and he really seems to be having the best time of anyone in the movie. He is obviously enjoying every scene as he chases down and admires John Wick.
- Asia Kate Dillon plays the Ajudicator, who shows up to bring the Table’s ruling to various characters who have interacted with John, helping him along his way. Dillon is cold as ice, and perfect in the role.
- Anjelica Huston plays the Director of some sort of Russian organization while also cruelly coaching ballerinas and wrestlers – she has a lot going on. John goes to her for help, to call in a favor from long ago.
- Said Taghmaoui plays the Elder, despite being younger than almost everyone else in the movie. He’s just wandering the Moroccan desert waiting for folks to try to come find him so that he can remind everyone he’s above the Table.
- Jerome Flynn, most recently seen as Bronn in Game of Thrones plays Berrada, someone only Halle Berry can get John an audience with, and he’s less than helpful. Although he provides some random history on the word ‘assassin’.
- Jason Mantzoukas plays the Tick Tock man, one of The Bowery King’s assets who seems to be there just to remind John Wick he’s running out of time. It’s a thrill to see Mantzoukas there, especially if, like me, you’re a fan of the How Did This Get Made podcast. If you aren’t, you should be, it’s fantastic.
- Also – there’s a random non-penguin Robin Lord Taylor appearance!
Overall, if you liked the others, you will love this. There are so many action sequences that are crafted to include bits I have never seen before – which is tough these days. The action is incredible, the story is fine, but in reality, it is second tier to the action. This movie is the perfect example of how a simple story executed perfectly can be far superior to a complicated story executed poorly. I am looking forward to seeing what John gets up to in Chapter 4, and if he can ever get back to his retirement.
8 out of 10 – same score as the other two chapters, exceptional action and really entertaining.