Chapter 3: Prepare For… Puppies! An Action Film For Dog Lovers

Dog lovers rejoice! The film franchise built on avenging the death of a puppy is back with another installment – and this time there are even more dogs!  What’s better is that this time the dogs get the chance to fight backAnd it’s not just John Wick (Keanu Reeves) who is willing to kill for his dog in Parabellum; Sofia (Halle Berry) joins in the fight and proves that you should never harm some one else’s dog.  And, of course, the cat owner of the film Zero (Mark Dacascos) is one of the main antagonists.  This is truly an action film for dog lovers.

img_7066The First John Wick film is capable of standing alone and focuses solely on the titular character.  The sequels, however, seem to place more of a focus on the world John lives in.  Chapters 2 and 3 are almost a separate cinematic universe and touch more on the lore of John Wick’s line of business rather than his personal life.  It is intriguing that we are never given all of the details about this world,  but it is also a little frustrating.  There is just enough information presented to draw us in, but not enough information given to provide satisfying answers.  In a series that is already lacking in plot to begin with, this is a bit of a downfall.  So although the first film in the franchise is a fairly strong movie about revenge, the sequels are rather lackluster in comparison.  However, it is clear there is at least some effort to construct a unique and interesting cinematic universe.  This film is visually strong with its gorgeous, intricate sets as well as its dark (yet hauntingly colourful) cinematography.  This film may not be able to top the first in the series, but at least Chapter 3 is much better than Chapter 2.

In terms of the plot for this movie, it is virtually non-existent.  Since everyone is after the bounty on John Wick’s head, this film is one long fight scene with a little bit of story in between the fights in order to help with the pacing.  Thankfully, the film is very well paced.  Each fight/action sequence goes on for just long enough before a calm moment/scene comes up to give the audience a break.  There were really only two fight sequences that seemed to drag on a little too long.  And it helped that each fight was unique it its own way.  Each of those scenes had a special gimmick of sorts in order to set it apart from all of the other fight scenes.  So in some fight, the weapons of choice were guns or animals or knives, in others the weapon was a book. Most importantly, each one of these many fight scenes was impeccably  choreographed.

An element of this film that I really enjoyed was the fact that there weren’t really any heroes or villains in the traditional sense.  There were simply rule breakers and rule followers.  And since the titular character is a rule breaker, it is the rule followers like The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) who become vilified as a result.  But even dividing “good” and “bad” into “rule breakers” and “rule followers” is a little to simplistic.  Characters that we perceive as “good”, like Winston (Ian McShane) because of his relationship with John Wick, are capable of “bad” actions.  By contrast, Zero and his ninjas may be “bad” as they are set up as antagonists to John Wick.  However, they are all “good” because they are huge fans of John Wick’s; although they have to fight against him to restore order to their world, they see that fight as an immense honour because he is the best at what he does.  I really felt bad for Zero at the end of his final fight because even though he loses against John Wick this is such an important moment for him both personally and professionally.  So although the plot was simplistic, I appreciated that the characters were at least more complex and better developed than the story itself.

What little plot there is focuses on the theme of consequences.  Right from the start, every action in this franchise has consequences.  Given the recurring visual motif of circles in this movie, I think it is safe to say that in this film a lot events “come full circle”.  Actions that occurred in the first or second John Wick, or even before the events of the first film took place, are now coming to a close as the consequences to those actions are coming to light.  Even events that take place solely in this film have consequences.  This opens up the possibility for a fourth film as Winston’s actions at the end of the film will most likely have severe consequences.  Although I was surprised with how open-ended the close of the film was since I was not aware that there were plans for a fourth film.  And given the persistent use of circles in this movie I really expected Parabellum to be the end; I thought that the motif of circles coming to a close would extend to the franchise as a whole.

Apparently not.

Even though the John Wick films as a whole are lacking in plot, I am still interested in learning more about this beautifully dark world in which they take place.  Even without any substantial plot, these films are still great action films as the fights have never failed to impress.  And, at the very least, this is a film franchise that will always feature adorable dogs.

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