One of the joys of traveling on flights in some airlines is to see films that one may have wanted to see in theaters but didn’t get the chance to. An example of this is the film I watched on the flight from Miami to Dallas/Ft. Worth on the way back from the Feast yesterday, John Wick 3: Parabellum. Now, it may be somewhat of a surprise that I have not seen any of the previous John Wick films, although they have been highly regarded by fans of the Keanussaince, where Keanu Reeves has found himself viewed no longer as an actor with limited emotional range and has demonstrated himself to be a worthwhile actor. These films have been a large part of that shift, and this film is certainly a compelling action film even if a few of the scenes are pretty brutal in terms of their violence. This film cannot be recommended for those who are squeamish, although it must be admitted that few people who are squeamish would be interested by a film of this nature anyway. This is a film series, after all that featured a massacre started by the death of a dog, and this does play a role in this film in several ways (spoiler alert).
As far as the plot of this particular film goes, this film is compelling for some very striking reasons. Most of the film finds John Wick (sometimes called Jonathan) dealing with the consequences of being considered as an outlaw by the Table, a group of management figures in the world of assassination and crime that appear to have their hands in all kinds of crime all over the world. While John deals with the problems of being an outcast and ends up causing harm to come to those who have helped him in his time of need, who find themselves cut in various painful ways with most of their thugs being eliminated by the Table and its forces, he also seeks to gain allies in dealing with various efforts at finding a way to avoid being killed. While most of his allies find themselves wounded in various unpleasant ways, he still manages to find some help and a way to enter again into the good graces of the Table, but it requires him to betray someone, so instead he ends up joining with the head of the Continental and fighting impossible amounts of men (including Zero, a boss baddie who views himself as being just like John Wick) and then finds himself betrayed, but also with a new ally in what will be an obvious sequel and a worthwhile one as well.
When one is dealing with a film series like this, it is important to praise the worldbuilding that has gone into this effort, where there are rules and consequences, authorities in a state of competition, and an effort on the part of people to be true to their ideals while also dealing with the requirements placed on them by above. The film portrays an underworld in compelling ways and shows that John Wick is an outsider in this realm for a variety of reasons. He has integrity and honor, which makes him a threat. He has obvious skills at killing people, which makes him both a threat and an opportunity for various corrupt authorities (which are everywhere to be seen here). He has friends, but for them to help him involves them putting risks to their own health and life and well-being. “I have served. I will be of service” is repeated often as the film portrays a complex mixture of motivations and duties. And the way that the film sets up a fourth installment is quite interesting, where John Wick has a friend in the Bowery King and some obvious enemies to kill and scores to settle. How long will this series go?