Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!
By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– The stylish kill king is back as Keanu Reeves once again suits up as the once retired assassin John Wick. With the third entry, Wick is on the run from seemingly the whole world, trying to survive the ramifications from the previous film, which saw Wick being excommunicado for breaking the rules of The Continental. But does the third film in the franchise live up to what we come to expect from Mr. Wick? Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen it yet, fair warning.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, the same director from the two previous films, part 3 kicks off right after the end of part 2, with Wick having an hour before he is officially excommunicado, placing a bounty on his head and a target seen by assassins across the globe. Wounded and marked for certain death, we begin the journey for Wick’s life, a journey that takes him around the world, into a new pit of danger, and back to New York for a final showdown.
Back for the third installment includes Winston (Ian McShane), the man who runs The Continental and a friend of sorts for Wick, the always calm Charon (Lance Reddick), the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne). The new thorns in Wick’s side come in the form of The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), the deadly Zero (Mark Dacascos), who you may know at The Chairman on Iron Chef America. Another one of the more dangerous foes Wick faces is Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman, two unnamed Shinobi under Zero’s command, whom martial art film fans will recognize from the fantastic films from The Raid franchise. New allies come in the form of Sophia (Halle Berry), with her two canine companions, which are an excellent addition to the world of John Wick.
Let’s get to the significant parts of the film: The fight scenes, right from the start, are fantastic. The bar was set in part two as Wick infamously took on a band of assassins armed with only a pencil, a callback to the stories told in the first film. The library scene will be something everyone is talking about moving forward, the same goes for the battle at the climax of the film. Zero and Wick, along with the two shinobi, have an absolutely fantastic fight scene that steals the show. The film is a love letter to the martial art greats like Bruce Lee, with nods to past films being extremely apparent and well executed, plus with amazing martial artists being added to the cast, it really brings up the action level from just gunplay to even more. You go to see a John Wick film for the violence and stylish kills, and you will not be disappointed here.
For me, the big part that is lacking in this film is the story and the heart. With the first film, we had an emotionally driven, straight to the point revenge flick, and we all loved it. With this film, the direction gets lost a bit as Wick travels around the globe for a second chance, with no real reason why, and then throws away said chance in a very non-John Wick move. Wick is a single-minded man, with love for his deceased wife driving him. So to let anything or anyone else get in the way of the only thing that matters seemed very out of character. However, with the way this film ends, it sets up for a fourth, very revenge-driven and single-minded cinema, one that may have Wick going out in a blaze of glory.
In my opinion, there is only one way John Wick gets a happy ending, and that is being reunited with his wife once more. That’s it, that is his reason for being. So if and when we get the fourth part, look for it to be John’s swan song to a well-deserved rest. I really enjoyed this film, it just didn’t live up to the high standards set by the previous two films. Yet, John Wick continues to be my favorite new film franchise in the past decade, and that speaks volumes.