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I like the direction John Wick went in, doubling down on its peculiar and utterly stupid assassin's bureaucracy, where services are bought with pirate gold doubloons, the admin is done by a team of rockabillies on analogue typewriters, and everyone abides to lethally enforced standards of etiquette. My favourite part of this world is Laurence Fishburne, yelling like Brian Blessed and hamming it up as a king of the tramps; the man has piles of money lying around his safe house, and yet he still insists that everyone who works for him dresses in rags, like something out of The Threepenny Opera.
Parabellum starts where we just left off in chapter 2, with John Wick discovering he's only a short hour away from every assassin in the World coming down on him. Apparently about a tenth of New York's population appears to be some kind of professional killer, so that's a big deal.
In Wick 2 I was getting bored of seeing Keanu Reeves gun down armies of faceless mooks. Can't we just take it as read that they aren't going to stop him, and save us another ten minute action scene? Even 1970s Kung-Fu villains didn't have that many disposable goons on hand. Parabellum instead puts Wick against novelty ethnic assassins from around the World. It's like someone made an action movie out of Punch Out, with Wick having to face off against the stereotypical Japanese sushi clan, the Indonesian karambit buddies, a Slavic ballet school clan, a Bedouin turban gang - it's all very tongue in cheek. With the exception of one fight scene that goes on about twice as long as necessary (featuring Halle Berry and two dogs), I found the action far more creative this time around. My favourite moment takes place in an antique weapons museum, with the characters having what amounts to a snowball fight with knives.
With so much left unresolved by the end of the movie, there is guaranteed to be a fourth movie. I get that this franchise is purely an excuse to have stylised action set pieces, but I'd have hoped a little more would have happened in the main plot. Apart from one significant twist, Wick is still pretty much exactly where he was in the beginning. I look forward to another one of these, but here's hoping they don't tease the franchise out too much.
...Man, I hate that my major takeaway from this is that between you and Alan Moore The Threepenny Opera must be a lot more popular over there.
That said... I do need to watch at least one of these movies one day. So... should it be this one, for the Punch Out violence, or the first one, for the heart and guts? I dunno.
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