According to Merriam-Webster, the Latin phrase “Si vis paces, para bellum’ means “if you want peace, prepare for war.” In modern English, “parabellum refers to a type of semi-automatic pistol or machine gun” according to Dictionary.com. More commonly, parabellums are known as Lugers.
That should tell you something about “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.” The John Wick saga was set into motion by the death of a dog and the theft of a classic car. This was a man in deep mourning and taking out his anguish and rage on the spoiled son of a Russian mobster.
In the sequel, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) kept one of the two unbreakable rules, honoring a marker, but was betrayed, had a contract on his head, was almost murdered by someone breaking the sanctuary rules of the New York City Continental and then decides to break the sanctuary rule himself. The owner of the Continental Winston (Ian McShane), gives John a one-hour lead before calling in the information to the top authority over assassins and organized criminals. Known as the High Table, the governing board over organized crime has John Wick made excommunicado and puts out a contract on him. Cellphones all over New York City start ringing and people are on John Wick’s trail.
John finds an underground doctor who stitches him up but is unable to finish before the the excommunicado order comes down. John has to finish stitching up his own wounds. At the doctor’s request, John gives him superficial wounds so provide him with an alibi for the High Table and leaves.
John Wick still has something in the bank which for this former assassin on the run is kept in the New York Public Library. There he retrieves a mysterious crucifix and a medallion marker from hollowed out book while defending himself from an assassin. You have to wonder where the NYPD is throughout this story because law and order seems to be in the hands of the High Table.
John makes his way to an old building that serves as both a ballet studio/theater and an assassin training school to give his “ticket” to safe passage to Casablanca. The director (Angelica Huston) seems to be part of a tribe (Ruska Roma) and calls John Wick by another name, Jardani Jonovich. He was once a member of her tribe and John is a “son of Belarus.” John Wick is Roma?
Helping someone who is excommunicado has repercussions and this John Wick expands the Wickian universe to Asia and North Africa. The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) contacts a sushi chef who not only deals in the deadly fugu, but is also a trained assassin, Zero (Mark Dacascos). Zero and his pupils work as enforcers, dealing out punishment as dictated by the High Table via the Adjudicator and also pursues John Wick.
In Casablanca, John Wick calls in his marker to the manager of the Casablanca Continental, Sofia (Halle Berry). John somehow transported her daughter to safety outside of the assassin/organized crime life and now Sofia has her two wonderfully trained Belgian Malinois to keep her company. Sofia takes John to see an assassin, Berrada, who can tell him where to find an Elder of the High Table who can help John change his excommunicado status.
While a dog is shot, no dog dies, but “Chapter 3” has a distinctive level of cruelty that isn’t in the previous chapters. A man has a dagger plunged into his eye. A few residents of Casablanca get their genitals bitten and bloodied (or at least we see the blood at crotch of their pants). The talk of the dog show Mission circuit was how well-trained the dogs were and their connection with their on-screen “owner.”
My husband thought there were some tips of the hat to movies such as “Tombstone” (horse shoot out), “Black Rain” (motorcycle sword play), “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (putting together a pistol), and “Blade Runner” (holding a pigeon in the rain) You can be the judge. I’ll wait for the Blu-ray to come and and make an analysis.
The horse CGI will probably make you laugh.
The John Wick style mixes the old with the new and now adds the exotic–Japan and Morocco. There’s something almost comical to see John Wick in his black suit and narrow tie (white-shirted) roaming in Casablanca. This isn’t a man who likes to blend in with the locals. The telephone operators, the switchboard, the rotary phones and the old gothic-styled architecture contrast the sleek glass corridors of the NYC Continental battlegrounds. The honor amongst cold-blooded assassins and crime bosses and the dire consequences when one breaks the code contrasts the trappings of civilization to the underworld’s savagery.
As you most likely know by now, there will be a “Chapter 4” and that means some loose ends remain when “Chapter 3” ends. “Chapter 3” is the preparation for war before the peace and that’s why it’s called “Parabellum.”