The “John Wick” action movies certainly know their audience by now, so it’s no shock that “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” amps up the mayhem to the point of making heads explode … perhaps not literally, but it comes close enough to that.
Keanu Reeves remains ideally cast as the hit man of few words but lots of lethal moves, whose first adventure – not unlike “Lethal Weapon” – was a modest success initially, but kept building its renown in post-theatrical markets. Playing off events in the previous film, Wick now finds himself the target of many other assassins after committing a killing at a New York hotel that was supposed to be off-limits for such an act.
With a huge bounty on his head and lots of people eager to claim it, Wick then goes on the international run to stay alive. Landing in Morocco, he gets particular help from a shady woman from his past, played by Halle Berry – who finds more good uses for her very physical training from “Die Another Day.” Seeing her do her thing here makes one wish she’d gotten the Jinx spinoff that her caper with James Bond was supposed to have yielded.
Anjelica Huston also plays a Wick helper, if a somewhat reluctant one, and an expected standout on the side of the enemies is Asia Kate Dillon of television’s “Billions” – the brilliant but duplicitous Taylor Mason on that show, and equally and delightfully unpredictable here as someone keeping a very close watch on Wick.
The set pieces in “Chapter 3” are quite dazzling as staged by returning director Chad Stahelski (a stunt veteran who doubled for Reeves in “The Matrix”), with an especially notable one placing Wick aboard a horse in a battle with travelers who use other means to move. Much of the enjoyment here comes from observing Reeves’ ongoing commitment to his role; no matter how incredible what’s asked of him is, he’s in it to win it, and that goes a very long way in such situations.
Ian McShane and Reeves’ ”Matrix” crony Laurence Fishburne also are present again, but as in the earlier “Wick” ventures, dogs might be the cast members most beloved by the audience (much as they are cherished by the title antihero). You wouldn’t expect that from something as generally frantic as “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” but that’s still part of the fun of the series zigging when you expect it to zag.