Keanu Reeves is fairly adept at shoving swords through potential killers’ heads.
But that’s only the tip of the violence iceberg in “John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum.”
Stuffed with various ninja-like moves (and more work for stuntmen than three films), “John Wick 3” overwhelms with violence.
The goal, of course, is to stop Wick (Reeves), who has a $14 million bounty on his head. That means anyone within spitting distance is poised to shoot, stab, hit or punch the guy.
He doesn’t emerge unscathed, but Wick hardly seems surprised when anonymous assassins appear out of nowhere.
Someone called The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) is particularly determined to hunt him down for the assassins known as the High Table (we know this because Dillon doesn’t blink during any scene). That pulls in folks to the Continental, the hotel where assassins hang out.
Ian McShane runs the joint and has access to a glass room that’s just perfect for a showdown. (Never mind Dwayne Johnson had a similar room in “Skyscraper.”) Reeves gets there eventually, but first he has to survive Halle Berry and a desert drop, contend with several vicious dogs, and battle underwater.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, “John Wick 3” shouldn’t be as long as it is. Some of the fight scenes seem repetitive; others are just bloated.
Reeves doesn’t crack a smile (or utter many words) while messing with his detractors. He does get laughs, however, when he executes professional wrestling moves while walking down streets.
The stoic actor also becomes part of Stahelski’s attempt to educate the action audience.
In addition to “parabellum,” the film makes a point of defining “fealty” and “parlay.”
Those sound a bit high-toned for something this rough-and-tumble but it helps the director keep audiences off-guard and ready for anything he might throw at them, pitbulls included.
To show how random this all is, Stahelski has Anjelica Huston in a couple of scenes that don’t advance the plot but let her play an interesting gypsy-like character. If she’s a set-up for future installment, expect death by toe shoes.
While “John Wick 3” keeps the franchise going, it doesn’t suggest where it’s headed. Just know if there’s a new way to kill, he’ll be able to do it rapidly, forcefully and quietly.
And big-name co-stars like Berry? They’ll be there not to act but to up the star quotient of a franchise that started as the story of a man and his dog.