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John Wick 3 Early Reviews: Keanu Shines In More Great Action

The first wave of early John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum reviews have arrived. Kicking off with the original film back in 2014, the series has gone on to become one of the premier action franchises of this generation. Viewers didn't have the highest of expectations when John Wick came out a handful of years ago, but the movie quickly earned a sizable following thanks to its beautifully choreographed set pieces and fascinating world-building, ensuring followups would be made. And now John Wick 3 is one of the most anticipated titles of 2019, debuting in a prime summer window.

As its subtitle implies, Chapter 3 sees John prepare for war against the High Table, who want his life after John broke Continental rules at the end of Chapter 2. Lionsgate's marketing campaign delivered plenty more of what fans want from these films, highlighting stunning action sequences and increasingly brutal executions as John battles his way through endless swarms of foes. The trailers did plenty to get audiences excited for Chapter 3, and fortunately it looks like the actual movie lives up to the hype. After initial social media reactions praised what director Chad Stahelski turned in, the full reviews have several positive things to say.

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Related: How Keanu Reeves Would End the John Wick Franchise

One week prior to Parabellum hitting theaters (as of this writing), Lionsgate lifted their review embargo, and the first batch are now available online. Below, you can check out some SPOILER FREE excerpts to get an idea how critics are feeling about the film.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum

Jake Coyle - Associated Press

But most come to the “John Wick” films for the hyperkinetic videogame action sequences. With a seamless mix of CGI and stunt work, Stahelski fluidly choreographs ballets of bullets and endless violent encounters across a grim cityscape. In some sequences, the action is clever, stylish and syncopated with the camera in motion. There are sleek showdowns surrounded by reflective glass; inventive weapon selections, when assailants corner Wick in a corridor of antique knives; and chases on horse, under an elevated subway, and by motorcycle, in a blur across a bridge.

Chris Nashawaty - EW

What makes that brawl — and the dozens of subsequent ones in the film – so great isn’t just the lightning-quick close-quarters fighting or the cameo appearances of Asian cinema martial-arts heavies that are delirious easter eggs for the action savants in the crowd, it’s the way the audience feels each blow in their guts. As in The Raid films, the punches are insanely inventive, but they also hurt. And they also sound especially crunchy. Whoever was John Wick 3’s Foley Artist deserves a raise.

Brian Truitt - USA Today

Neo in “The Matrix” might have been Reeves’ most iconic action role for a while, but John Wick’s the real chosen one – at 54, the actor gives his laconic character the fitting gravitas of a life lived very dangerously, as well as all the necessary head shots, kung fu chops and other kick-butt moves that drive the franchise.

Robert Abele - The Wrap

And how are the action sequences? They’re fun until they feel familiar, and even then they’re still a trip because the long takes demand admiration for the sheer brute exertion at work. There’s an all-timer early on in a weapons museum, with a close-quarters scrap in a corridor of knife display cases that’ll curl your hair, and a weaponizing of horse hind-kicks in a stables scene that’s explosively funny.

Andrew Barker - Variety

On a level of pure craft, then, “John Wick 3” is unquestionably great action filmmaking – certainly the most technically accomplished of the series thus far, with a good dozen scenes that could only have been pulled off by a director, a stunt team, an editor and a cast working at the absolute highest level. But as masterfully executed as the action is, watching two-plus hours of mayhem without any palpable dramatic stakes, or nuance, or any emotion at all save bloodlust offers undeniably diminishing returns.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick and Dog in John Wick 3 Parabellum

While it doesn't sound like Chapter 3 is the best entry in the franchise so far, the general consensus seems to be it's a worthy successor to the previous two movies, serving up plenty of hard-hitting action and thrills. Based on the descriptions of some of the standout set pieces, Stahelski and his crew may have outdone themselves on a technical level, staging jaw-dropping battles that are truly unlike anything else in the genre today. Those have always been the bread and butter of the John Wick films, so it isn't surprising to see Stahelski elevated his craft, using his experience as a Hollywood stuntman to take things up a notch. And despite being 54, Reeves is as game as ever to handle the grueling demands of the John Wick role, so much so that this may now be the signature role of his career.

If there is a common criticism, it's that after three films, the John Wick property runs the risk of becoming a bit too familiar. Apparently, watching Reeves blast his way through enemies can get a little redundant - even though it looks amazing onscreen. With that in mind, it'll be interesting to see what the future holds for John Wick one Chapter 3 is in the rearview mirror. The creative team is up for doing more sequels if the audience demand is there, but perhaps they'd be better served quitting while they're ahead and letting John ride off into the sunset on a high note. Regardless, at the very least, fans are going to have a highly entertaining trilogy to revisit whenever they please.

More: John Wick 3 Has A Matrix Easter Egg

Source: Various (see links)

Key Release Dates
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) release date: May 17, 2019
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