The last time we met enigmatic assassin John Wick, he had a bounty of $14 million on his head and was thus a target for every wannabe shooter in New York. 'Parabellum' opens moments after the end of 'Chapter 2' as Wick (and his dog) are attempting to find some semblance of safety. Naturally, for this universe, said safety does not last long, with our canine loving anti-hero forced to defend himself in a Manhattan library with just a first edition as he fights, stabs and shoots to survival.
Sprawling all the way to Morocco for a period, the action still centers mostly in the Big Apple at night, as The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) sets out to judge and then violently punish those who had aided John Wick in his escape at the orders of The High Table.
For fans of action movies, in particular, it's tricky to not descend into hyperbole when talking about this franchise. It was note-perfect to begin with and borderline genius in its simplicity and execution - who doesn't understand avenging the death of a puppy!? Keanu Reeves has proven before he's more than game to catch some bruises in the name of audience believability and playing a mysterious assassin with unspoken depth is nail on the head stuff casting wise.
But where these movies live or die is in the action and 'Parabellum' has some of the most impressive set-pieces ever filmed. Returning director Chad Stahelski likes to keep everything in camera (as little CGI as possible) and loves him some long lates - which means you can see Keanu Reeves actually doing some of this shit. In a movie full of stand-out sequences, one on horseback stands out for being perversely funny, while a chase scene involving Wick being pursued by a bunch of ninjas on motorcycles is so well put together an audible gasp in the cinema is damn near inevitable. Stahelski is the director to watch right now in Hollywood and also continues to nail the tone and slow expansion of the Wick universe.
There was excitement at the announcement at both the return of favourites (Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane) and the adding of marquee names Anjelica Huston and Halle Berry. The former is clearly having a good time acting opposite Reeves, while the Oscar-winning Berry shows a similar level of commitment to hand-to-hand combat as our lead - showcasing some impressive Judo in the process.
Fans will be delighted to know that there's likely another sequel, or at least spin-off, on the horizon and it's hard to argue with their appetite.
The best of the series and one of the best action movies ever made.