In the midst of superhero dominance at the cinema, Keanu Reeves and his stunt pals Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, along with screenwriter Derek Kolstad, launched an original action franchise based on a simple premise: Watching Keanu Reeves fight people is cool, we’ll do that for two hours. John Wick: Chapter 3 (still not acknowledging the subtitle, yes, I know what it means, no, I don’t care, it’s still dumb) is the latest entry into the series, and it is, objectively, DOPE AS F-CK. It has the batsh-t crazy action we’ve come to expect from the franchise, it is steeped in the cool and mysterious world of professional assassins, and there are so many very good boys throughout the film, it’s delightful. Some of the good boys are dogs, some are horses, they all deserve pats.
Chapter 3 picks up right where Chapter 2 left off, with John Wick on the run and counting down his final hour before a massive bounty is placed on his head and he becomes the target of the whole assassin world. The opening chase sequence involves horses, and it is the most bonkers and fun chase scene in recent memory. Unlike Chapter 2, which was invested in building out the world of the assassins, Chapter 3 is not as engaged in worldbuilding, though we do meet some new characters and get a suggestion of Wick’s past, how he came to be such a good assassin. Chapter 3 is the ideal balance between the raw propulsive action of the first film, and the details and revelations about the world of the second film, which, to my mind, makes this the best of the series. It’s the best action, and there is just enough detail to make it interesting.
One of the new people we meet is Sofia (Halle Berry), an acquaintance of Wick’s who runs the Casablanca Continental Hotel. Sofia has a couple of VERY GOOD BOYS who have a very specific trick and let’s just say, I want those dogs. If you think the opening sequence, which involves both a horse chase and a knife fight that is simultaneously graphic and hilarious, is the most amazing thing, wait until you see Sofia and her dogs in action. What is amazing about Chapter 3 is how it manages to raise the bar on now-familiar Wick-ian action. This film is super stylish, looks amazing, has incredibly intricate fight scenes, and also, as a bonus, some of the best physical comedy you will see all year. The influence of silent-era stunt pioneers like Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton is felt strongly throughout the film.
At two hours and ten minutes, Chapter 3 is probably a little long, but it’s so f-cking awesome, who really cares? (Chapter 2 was the same way.) The third-act set piece is spectacular, not least because Mark Dacascos brings a huge amount of charm and verve as “Zero”, one of the assassins gunning for Wick. Zero and Wick’s fight scene is eye-meltingly good. Every new action sequence begs the question: How do you top this? The Zero vs. Wick fight proves all you really need is capable stunt performers, a well-choreographed fight, and to let the charming actors be charming. Makes you wonder how many red shirts in the history of action cinema could have been adding something beyond competent kicking to the movies the last hundred years. Just by letting Dacascos—who usually plays stone-faced badasses—have a personality, Chapter 3 crowns its own accomplishment.
John Wick: Chapter 3 is the most fun and satisfying entry into the franchise yet, and leaves the door open for more in a really fun way. For a franchise that has defined itself by action with a high degree of difficulty, this is the best-looking and most batsh-t action they’ve committed to film yet. It makes you wonder how they’ll top it (underwater fight ballet?), but as each film has managed to raise the bar, I’m sure the next John Wick, if there is one, will come up with something equal parts amazing and insane. The first movie declared that John Wick is back, Chapter 3 is John Wick just getting started.