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John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum First Reviews: An Escalating Ballet of Blood, Fights, and Insanity

The first reviews of the third John Wick say this franchise just keeps getting better.

by | May 10, 2019 | Comments

We’re one week away from the release of John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum, and the reactions have been very promising. Now the first crop of reviews have arrived online, and the third installment of the Keanu Reeves-led action franchise is being called the best one yet, coming out of the gate with an even higher Tomatometer score of 96%! Even if you question all the violence, you have to admire the technical quality of the action filmmaking involved. And by the end, you won’t just be wanting more John Wick but also spinoffs of the other characters.

Here’s what the critics are saying about John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum:


How does Chapter 3 compare to the first two?

It’s the best film of the franchise so far, even surpassing the first film.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

Hands down, the most giddily brutal and bananas film in the series to date.
– Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Everything about John Wick: Chapter 3 is better than Chapter 2, from the fantastic cinematography to the editing and the score.
Edward Douglas, The Beat

The choreography by far surpasses anything done in JW1 and it will make you forget JW2 altogether.
Karen Han, Polygon

Parabellum also has the distinction of being the silliest of the John Wick movies; it’s like watching the live-action adaptation of a cartoon.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Misses the greatness of Chapter 2 because of a convoluted last act and underdeveloped supporting characters.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

 


Does the praise go even further than the John Wick series?

The year’s best action film, and if anything comes along and surpasses it I shall kneel before the filmmakers and pledge my fealty.
Sean Mulvihill, fanboynation.com

If you were to ask someone what the greatest action movie ever made was, and they said ‘the first thirty minutes of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” they’d have a point.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

With John Wick 3, Reeves has finally made another action movie on par with The Matrix.
Edward Douglas, The Beat


(Photo by Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

So, the action scenes are good, then?

Every fight scene here is a sumptuous martial arts infused treat, in which we get a taste of fight-styles from all over the planet, executed by masters of those styles.
Sherin Nicole, idobi.com

It’s the most incredible action cinema we’ve seen since Mad Max: Fury Road.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

The action is as visually enthralling as impact is destructive.
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

 John Wick: Chapter 3 sounds every bit as brutal as it looks.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

Parabellum is so relentless that it often devolves into a numbing flurry of shoulder flips and headshots.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

After a certain point, watching John Wick shoot people in the head starts to weirdly resemble a gardener misting orchids with a spray bottle.
Andrew Barker, Variety


(Photo by Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

How about that knife-throwing scene we’re hearing about?

It’s the best action scene I’ve seen in at least the last year. (Probably more, but I don’t want to risk getting too hyperbolic.)
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

 In a lesser film, [it] would be the one thing everybody talked about on their way out of the theater…Smash glass cabinet; grab knife; throw knife with lethal accuracy; repeat. There’s more to the set piece than that, but you get the idea.
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter


What about the scene with Halle Berry’s dogs?

The already infamous set-piece involving Sofia’s dogs grabs you by the knackers.
Kevin Harley, Games Radar

 The most exciting brawl in Parabellum (with the possible exception of a knife fight in a Chinatown antiques store).
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

 It’s the second best action scene I’ve seen in at least the last year. (Probably more, but I don’t want to risk getting too hyperbolic.)
Mike Ryan, Uproxx


Is it dangerous to our health to see a movie this intense?

They ought to install seatbelts in theaters for this rip-roaring ride.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Remain safely seated, with your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the ride…Parabellum is the movie equivalent of a 3D experience at the amusement park.
Sherin Nicole, idobi.com

The audience feels each blow in their guts.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly


(Photo by Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

Who else stands out in Chapter 3?

Berry delivers a crowd-pleasing turn marked by brutal efficiency in her action scenes.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

It’s Berry leaning into the fray with refined stoicism and swagger who steals the spotlight. Her work here begs for a spin-off.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

I have no doubt people will be demanding a spin-off with her tough-as-nails, dog-loving Sofia.
JimmyO, Jo Blo’s Movie Emporium

Dacascos brings something relatively jovial to this John Wick adversary…not unlike what Toshiro Mifune brought to Kurosawa’s films.
Edward Douglas, The Beat

Dacascos goes from stereotypical stoic assassin to the kind of overly earnest bro who’d fit seamlessly into the Fast and Furious franchise. (Give him a spin-off, please!)
Karen Han, Polygon

 


(Photo by Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

But how’s the script?

Anything resembling a plot in Parabellum really exists for one reason: to get us from cool-looking scene to cool-looking scene.
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

The gist of the plot is pretty simple: John Wick kills a lot of people. Like, a lot of people.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

I love the fact that it’s pretty much just John Wick running for his life, stopping every so often to fight assassins.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

Why, exactly, John is even running gets a little confusing after a while…tries to romanticize his mass murders by suggesting – unconvincingly – that he only wants to stay alive to remember his dead wife.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting


But does this one have any deeper meaning?

In its most enjoyably demented moments, Parabellum is nothing short of a non-stop metaphor for being famous.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

The concept of time, and how its relentless march affects fallible heroes, is at the center of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

It is not, to be clear, a smart or wise movie — it’s just a really fun one.
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox


Are there any big criticisms?

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.
Andrew Barker, Variety

There can be too much of a good thing…Parabellum’s escalation, which feels more fitting of, say, Assassin’s Creed, doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Karen Han, Polygon


Will we leave begging for more?

There’s a lot of life left in this series. This isn’t the end for John Wick and the world of The Continental. I’m already planning on checking in again.
Sean Mulvihill, fanboynation.com

I hope Keanu Reeves keeps making these movies forever.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

If Stahelski and Reeves can continue delivering this kind of quality and consistency, then as far as I’m concerned, they can make a dozen of these films and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum opens everywhere on May 17.

#1
Adjusted Score: 104.16%
Critics Consensus: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum reloads for another hard-hitting round of the brilliantly choreographed, over-the-top action that fans of the franchise demand.
Synopsis: In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag... [More]
Directed By: Chad Stahelski

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