Movie review: 'John Wick 3: Parabellum'

Brad Keefe
Keanu Reeves in "John Wick 3: Parabellum"

As the adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The only thing broken about the “John Wick” series is bones. Lots and lots of bones.

It is never lost on me that this is a series created by former stuntmen. It's a showcase of stunt work and fight choreography with typically just enough plot to glue things together.

This third installment (subtitled “Parabellum” because why not?) takes the action to giddy levels as it tries to add some complexity to the plot — at least constructing a storyline more complex than the initial tale of avenging a dog.

When we last left Wick (Keanu Reeves), he was excommunicated from the High Table, a guild of international super-assassins, after killing one of its members in a hotel that was supposed to be a safe haven.

So you've got Wick on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head, enough of a payday to bring the world's best killers-for-hire out of retirement.

This, of course, provides Wick with a near-endless supply of fist fodder and impossible escapes.

Look, returning director Chad Stahelski isn't here for the plot, even as the story adds some layers and some big names like Halle Berry, who plays a hitwoman who shares a past with Wick.

Honestly, I feel “John Wick 3” works a little better when it's skewing a little more cheesy than James Bond. The action is always more sophisticated than the story.

And for the first 20 minutes or so, we get all kinds of breathless action set pieces and hardly any story. I'm not sure the movie or the audience could have kept up that pace the whole time, but I would have liked to see it try.

“John Wick 3” often feels like an arthouse Steven Seagal flick, and I mean that as praise. It starts at hyper-violent and over-the-top and then sees where it can go from there.

Reeves goes all-out in fight sequences that would make John Wu smile. He's cool and stoic as he essentially battles his way through a video game of endless underlings and set piece boss fights.

While the fight-work and budget reach new heights, this one can be a bit much. Coming in at about 2 hours and 10 minutes, even the action can wear a bit, especially when the first Wick flick was so taut.

But if you want action that is a work of art, this one ain't broke at all.

Opens Thursday

3 stars out of 5

“John Wick 3: Parabellum”