Si vis pacem, para bellum
Against all expectations, a dark little movie of revenge and ultra-violence threw Keanu Reeves to the top of the movie charts, and spawned two sequels. I was late to the party, and still somewhat unsure what exactly had captured so much public imagination here. Fun? Sure. Brutal? Oh, indeed. Beloved? Wow.
There are indeed a few things done very very well here. The stories are un-convoluted, by which I don’t mean braindead, just unburdened with superfluous crud. There’s exactly enough motivation, without straining audience patience with another missing girlfriend/child/car or whatever. As the series has progressed, we are being given glimpses of something less straightforward, something apparently quite huge under the surface, but the filmmakers don’t waste time explaining everything. No, they go with shots of some marvellously retro telephone exchange where the underworld is kept in check by a series of Amy Winehouse-esque, tattooed gals and guys. Do I understand it? Not so much, but I don’t care – it’s just part of the fun!
Secondly, the action. It’s brutal but almost cartoonish, without being comedic (although often funny, in a dark way) and (more or less) believable. Anything is a weapon, if you know how to use it. And the set design plays so well to that – I won’t spoil it, but one scene just cracked me up, so perfectly positioned and played, even as I had to look away from bursting eyeballs. Ew. Kudos for the huge glass office, too: that looked amazing.
Following directly from the events of John Wick 2, this one is a bit more fun and a lot more batshit crazy. The backstory starts to expand again, and the series has done well enough to attract famous faces such as Anjelica Houston, Halle Berry, and randomly, Jerome Flynn. The humour – my fellow audience in the cinema was laughing out loud fairly frequently – does that rare job of straddling the line between ridiculous (I’m looking at you, Mark Dacascos!) but not parody, and balances the extreme violence somewhat.
Keanu Reeves has gotten more than his fair share of stick over the years, but he is genuinely excellent (urm, no pun intended!) here. Overwhelmed by grief, turned on by former associates, and very very good at doing something he doesn’t really care for any more. Things have progressed quite naturally in this story, and boy are they getting out of hand…!
Released: 15th May 2019
Viewed: 17th May 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
My rating: 8.5/10