Movie review: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of John Wick 3: Parabellum! The first two films have been pretty great but can they stick the landing of the trilogy?

‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’

IMDb summary: Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

Writing

John Wick 3 was written by Derek Kolstad (who created this series), Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, and Marc Abramshile. While the first film introduced us to the character, and the second one did wonders for word building, the third film had a goal of separating the first from the second, meaning it tried taking out the character out of his world. And while the film separated John Wick from the rules of his world of assassins, it only expanded the viewers’ familiarity with the different aspects of it. Thematically, John Wick 3 looked at what happens when human connection interferes with the rules and how order can never fully account for the human factor.

Also, apparently it’s not only Wick who loves dogs in this assassins’ world. In summary, the plot was perfectly fine for an action film. It was mostly there to enable the action but I don’t think it was purely there just to serve the action but could actually stand somewhat on its own. However, I don’t think the plot will be able to do that much longer. The ending of the third film made it appear as if John Wick 4 is in the plans and I feel like they maybe should have stopped with 3. I’m afraid things from now own will start making less sense or require even more suspension of disbelief.

Directing

Chad Stahelski returned to direct John Wick 3 and gave us what we expected: some finely choreographed and filmed action. The action scenes throughout the trilogy have certainly gotten more and more ridiculous. It’s a shame that the franchise is leaving its somewhat realistic roots behind as I thought these particular roots were one of its major strengths. I understand why they are moving away from them, even if not consciously: topping the action of the first two films is difficult when the bar they set themselves is this high. And yet, it’s becoming more and more obvious that some of the sets in this film were there just to look cool rather than to make sense. Also, some of the injuries really should have been deadly.

What was particularly great about the film’s action was that the movie made its violence count: the breaks, the cuts, the bullets – all left an impact not just on characters’ bodies but had a physiological impact on the viewer. In short, don’t watch this movie if you are squeamish. While some R rated films just work to desensitize the viewer to violence, John Wick 3 uses its R rating to make us care and think about that same violence.

Acting

Keanu Reeves shined for the third time as the titular character. Man of little words, Reeves was still both believable and enjoyable to watch in an action film that was made to serve his talents while hiding the things he may be lacking (action above dialogue). Ian McShane came back to sprout some cool sounding one-liners that one cannot think about for a long time. While the second film helped to kickstart Ruby Rose’s film career, this one seems to attempt to help Halle Berry resurrect hers (decently successfully too). Laurence Fishburne returned as the crazy pigeon dude. Asia Kate Dillon played the main villain role in the film and was fine but quite annoying.

On the representation front, John Wick 3 had a diverse cast. Still, I wouldn’t stay it had diverse representation, more like diverse inclusivity? More importantly, I don’t think John Wick 3 is the type of film that one really wants to be represented in (this being a movie about assassins and all).

In short, John Wick 3 might not live up to its predecessors but is a decent action film overall. Still, if the filmmakers are planning on moving forward with the series, they should go back to the drawing board and see what made the first films better: in my mind, a tighter plot and more realistic action.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: John Wick 3

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Movie review: Rampage

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of another Dwayne Johnson movie. I swear his filmography is becoming a whole separate genre of cinema. This is Rampage.

IMDb summary: When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

 

Writing

Rampage was written by Ryan Engle (writer of The Commuter), Carlton Cuse (Lost’s showrunner, writer of San Andreas), Ryan J. Condal (writer of Hercules), and Adam Sztykiel (a comedy writer). Quite a few previous connections to Dwayne Johnson on the part of the writing staff. This makes my introductory point sound even more truthful.

Rampage’s script is a very loose adaptation of a video game of the same name but it feels like any generic monster movie. It has some monster v. monster fights that both Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island had (and Godzilla v. Kong will definitely have) and a lot of bloodless destruction (the same amount as another very recent monster movie Pacific Rim: Uprising had). Rampage also features a brief moment of Johnson having fun in a jungle-like environment, reminding the viewer of Jumanji. His character, undoubtfully, has a family to care for but this time around it’s an animal family cause human families are just so 2015 (and so San Andreas). The film’s story also has a genetic engineering plotline, like Jurassic World. In addition to all these moments and details from other pictures, Rampage also has quite a few laughable and cheesy moments that are either incredibly far-fetched or cringe-y. The dialogue isn’t really great either and some of those one-liners and jokes fall so so flat in the movie.  Well, at least it doesn’t have a plug for a franchise at the end, like the other video game movie of 2018 – Tomb Raider.

While this is quite a harsh critique on my part, I still would not like to say that Rampage is a bad movie. It knows what it is (for the most part) and is entertaining (for the most part). Still, it is also very familiar and forgettable.

Directing

Brad Peyton, the director of San Andreas, directed Rampage and I swear these two movies have to be connected somehow. Same writer, same director, same star?! Anyways, the film’s direction was fine. The story was visualized on screen clearly and cohesively. The pacing was okay too. The action was quite enjoyable as well, though, by the end of the third act, I did sort of check out from the movie. The CGI was also fine for the most part, but some wider shots did look pretty fake.

Acting

Rampage’s cast consisted of Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, FF8, Moana, Central Intelligence + all other movies of his that I’ve already linked to in this review) and some B-listers. Johnson was fine in the action hero type of a typical role, though, I had a hard time buying the fact that one of the most charismatic people on the planet could play a character who can’t connect/communicate with people.

On the supporting front, the movie features a lot of B-listers and even the most well known of them cannot really be seen as big move stars. They all do a good or serviceable job in the film. Naomie Harris is probably the biggest star out of the supporting cast due to her involvement with Moonlight. However, on the mainstream front, while she does have 007 franchise, she is only like a 3rd female lead in those films (behind M/Judi Dench and a revolving door of Bond girls/love interests). Malin Åkerman also stars the film – I don’t think I saw her in a movie since 2012’s Rock of AgesJeffrey Dean Morgan is big on TV with The Walking Dead but isn’t really a movie star either. Joe Manganiello has a cameo-sized role in this film too and he is Deathstroke but nobody really knows when he will get a chance to play that character, as DCEU’s future is so unclear. Jake Lacy also has a role here and, looking through his IMDb, I can notice quite a few films of his that I’ve seen, like Carol and Their Finest. The problem is that I don’t remember him in them.

In short, Rampage is a perfectly serviceable, forgivable, and forgettable action/video game movie. The video game curse is back in full force if you thought that Tomb Raider lifted it at least a bit.

Rate: 2.8/5

Trailer: Rampage trailer 

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