A review of every film in the series
By EG Manilag, Staff Writer
If you ask me, nothing gets me more in the holiday mood like action movies. My personal favourite are the John Wick series. To save you the trouble of deciding which ones to watch, here are all the films from best to worst.
The Best—John Wick
The storyline of the first chapter of John Wick is fantastic. All the necessary gaps are filled, it is close to reality, and has breathtaking scenes which promise much development for the series. This film also totally changed how action thriller movies work—setting the bar impossibly high.
How he is feared as the ferocious Baba Yaga (or Boogeyman) left me in awe. Just listening to unease in the voice of head of New York’s biggest drug syndicate Viggo Tarasov (also John Wick’s past boss) when speaking about Wick is thrilling. It really contextualizes Wick’s character. We can also feel that all the characters that he meets have deep connections with him. For instance, when Wick killed some thugs that were inside of his house, the police officer that is called to his home for noise complaints doesn’t arrest him… even when he sees a dead body right behind Wick. The officer just leaves doesn’t investigate further. This level of respect Wick warrants is shown again in how Winston treats him—the leader of the Continental Hotel. Clearly, John Wick is greatly esteemed by the big bosses in the underworld.
The other great thing about this chapter is the emotional aspect it possesses, particularly when John Wick’s close friend Marcus is brutally killed. Marcus was also an assassin and he was paid by crime boss Tarasov to kill Wick. Marcus accepts the job with the intention of protecting Wick. He saves Wick from Tarasov’s henchmen multiple times, but when Tarasov finds out his real intentions, he is killed. The loyalty of Marcus to Wick till the end was indeed impactful.
The only thing that’s confusing in the film is the idea that Wick killed a number of people over his puppy and his Mustang. Don’t get me wrong on this one, although he was angry and desperate with good reason, what he did was unnecessarily extra in a moral and utilitarian sense, making him look simply like a mad murderer instead of a rational one. On the other hand, this strange aspect encourages us to look for the second chapter to find out why Wick did this. Overall this chapter is the best—especially in terms of character development, emotional scenes, and storyline.
The Average—John Wick: Chapter 2
The world building in this chapter is a bit slow, unlike the first film. As the first movie already set the bar high, it’s expected that one is not as exciting or surprising. For example, in the first film we learn that the Continental Hotel is a safe haven for assassins. The hotel’s only rule is to avoid doing “business” on Continental grounds (as in, no killing). That part in the first film was truly shocking. This film expands on that idea with more rules, and they did a great job refining the formula of the series, but I guess Katy Perry was right—“comparisons are easily done, once you’ve had a taste of perfection.”
Another thing that caught me off-guard was the changed realism of the story, particularly the last scene where a lot of people lurking in the streets were assassins. The ringing of the phones and the people stopping all at once, moments before Wick’s “excommunicado,” was just too far-fetched. I’m just not going to buy into it, even though it’s mind-blowing. It changes the tone of the film too much.
The greatest asset in this film is no other than Keanu Reeves himself. His unique persona and way of speaking are simply unparalleled—and it’s to the point that it would be super awkward and cheesy if it wasn’t him saying his own lines. Seriously, the man is just a natural talent. If Keanu Reeves were not playing John Wick, then the movie franchise would certainly not work.
The Worst—John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Amongst the three, this one is the best in terms of actions and stunts. Most of the fight scenes in this movie were taken in wide shots—a signifier of real stunts, unlike scenes that cut on hit impact and shake the camera to make fights seem more intense. The hand-to-hand combat, gun fights, and dog action were awesome to watch. It’s a badass film, totally worth your time, and it’s definitely action packed. In terms of fight choreography, is the next best thing after the Mission: Impossible movie franchise. This film definitely deserves recognition.
Other than the action parts though, everything just falls apart. Let’s start off from the storyline. The progression of the story was monotonous. Basically, John Wick was just running away from start to finish. Moreover, the story has some promising characters, but they were not quite developed in the film because of the numerous fight scenes. There are a lot of extras in the story as well, making the film random. For example, the villain named Zero is out of place. In the film, he was portrayed to be a villain that can potentially stop Wick, but it turns out that he was just another guy who wants Wick’s signature. He was basically fanboying at Wick the whole time, and it’s cringey.
The next thing that’s puzzling is John Wick’s motivation. At first, his intentions were reasonable and clear. He went all the way through the desert to meet the elder of the High Table to seek atonement and cuts off his finger. He must also kill Winston in order to revoke his excommunicado. Wick accepts the task in order to protect his life. But later in the story, he turns his back to all of that. After everything that happened to him, going through the desert, getting his finger cut off, and agreeing to the mission, he randomly defends Winston instead. And Winston later betrays him, making Wick’s intentions even more meaningless.
The last reason that made John Wick: Chapter 3 the worst is his invincibility. He was only hurt once in the film. Other than that, he was in God mode. He evaded blades and bullets completely. He even survived without any water. Maybe the abovementioned are reasonable because some action films are just like that—for example, some of the James Bond movies. However, it is unacceptable that John Wick fell off a building and lived.