If you are wary of mindless bloodbath and fast-paced fight sequences, you are not alone. Action movie fatigue is a real thing. After the first half, you really stop caring about what anyone’s motivations really are, who is supposed to kill who, and “why is this dude still alive again?”. If you search for the best action movies of all time, you’d find an interesting pattern that most of them fall between 1985 – 2005. Was this the golden age of Action Flicks ? (Not counting superhero movies and science fiction). 2000s were the time when CGI was just finding its footing and suddenly action sequences that weren’t possible before were suddenly within reach. However, film-studios saw a huge opportunity in this and started making their films bigger in scale and stories. So much so, that the classic, on-your-face action of the 90s lost its relevance. For an action purist, the definition of a good action sequence would be one where – you are invested in the characters who are involved, and it should be practical enough to make you ask – “How the hell did they do that ?”. That’s where the true creativity of an action director would lie, that is, choreographing scenes with the minimal use of CGI so that it doesn’t overpower the viewer. A fantastic example of this would be George Miller’s 2015 Oscar-winning film Mad Max: Fury Road which cleverly used practical effects interspersed with CGI to make for one of the best Action movies in recent times.
Also Read: Mad Max Fury Road Story behind the stunts
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is the third film in the John Wick franchise and is also directed by Chad Stahelski. Created by Derek Kolstad, John Wick has a pretty straightforward plot which makes it inclusive for anyone who wants to catch up. After his wife’s tragic death due to cancer, John Wick, who is a legendary hitman, retires from the world of crime. He lives a peaceful life with his dog that had been a gift from his dead wife. One night some intruders break into his house, steal his car and kill his dog. They leave Wick bloodied and battered but still alive. Once he recovers, he finds out that it was the son of the head of the Russian mob who was behind it. Wick destroys their entire operation single-handedly, and gets his car back. In the sequel, a past blood oath comes back to haunt him in the way of the Italian mafia who asks him for a favour. When he politely declines saying that he didn’t do that work anymore, they burn his house including some of the last memories that he had of his wife. Once again, he has to come out of retirement and exact vengeance.
Now this world of criminals that he thrives in is not without its rules. Throughout the world, this crime syndicate has built hotels known as – “The Continental” where criminals can live without fear of being executed as “no business is to be conducted on the Continental soil.” Anyone who breaks this law, is declared excommunicado which means that a bounty would be put on that person’s head and he would be provided no sanctuary in any of the Continentals. Unfortunately, John has to make a choice and kills the antagonist within the hotel grounds. A memo is immediately sent out to declare John Wick excommunicado in 60 mins. Now that you’re all caught up, Chapter 3 finds John being chased by assassins and hit men all over the world. The only way to save himself is to get his Excommunicado-status reversed by someone who holds a place of power. However, it would be easier said than done because he is exhausted after the battle with the Italian mafia (in John Wick 2), and is barely able to defend himself from the hundreds of hitmen who want to claim the $14 million reward for killing him.
John Wick is all about the characters and the world they inhabit. There are no intricate plots to distract you, no romantic interests that would unnecessarily break down the pace. It’s just about a man who wants to be left in peace.
John Wick is all about the characters and the world they inhabit. There are no intricate plots to distract you, no romantic interests that would unnecessarily break down the pace. It’s just about a man who wants to be left in peace. This simple philosophy makes room for a world that is comically formal for one that is inhabited by criminals. You would see scenes where John Wick is embroiled in a fierce fight sequence. Both get exhausted so they decide to take a break in the Continental where the other guy expresses his jubilation at finally meeting John Wick – the legend. They share a drink, walk out and get back to the fighting, ‘cause why not. It’s a surprisingly moral world where everyone abides. Every single character has his/her own definitive style akin to Frank Miller’s Sin City which adds a certain layer of intrigue and a measured dose of humour that keeps you hooked.
Adding to that, the narrative does not spend time in a lot of exposition which would have taken some of the appeal away. Instead, we get to know about the rules and about John Wick’s past through his interactions with the people on his journey to finding “The One” (mandatory Matrix reference). In Chapter 3, we get a glimpse of his past life for the first time but he doesn’t dwell on it too long. The beautifully shot action sequences have taken it up a notch from the previous movies and add to the graphic-novella-protagonist vibe to Keanu Reeves’s character. One of my absolute favourite scenes is the one where he has a knife-fight with some Asian goons in an antique shop. It is so precisely choreographed that there’s no way that it CGI. This is pure skill which makes it all the more impressive. There is a Matrix reference baked right into the movie that was just exhilarating. When his Winston asks him what he needed, John replies – “Guns. Lots of guns.” This is a direct reference to The Matrix (1999) when Neo and Trinity are inside a weapons program preparing to extract Morpheus from the armed building. The operator asks him what he needed and Neo replies with the very same line – “We need guns. Lots of guns.”
It is not a fluke that John Wick 3 has upended Marvel’s Endgame in the opening numbers, earning a whopping $57 million in its first weekend alone. Even in a market saturated with superhero films, good-old action movies can still thrive if they stick to the fundamentals. Riding on the success of the franchise, Stahelski has already announced John Wick: Chapter 4 which is going to release on May 21st, 2021. With the final cliffhanger that Chapter 3 has left us with, the future looks promising for our man Keanu.