John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ★★★

For a semi-retired super assassin who’s killed more people than the Bubonic plague, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is actually a pretty relatable guy. Beneath the concave cheekbones, the magical handguns with infinite bullet capacity, and the byzantine criminal underworld that stretches to every corner of the globe, he’s just a monosyllabic middle-aged man who wants to be left the fuck alone.

When the first movie of this increasingly ridiculous saga began, Mr. Wick was grieving his wife’s death in peace — then some Russian mobsters made the mistake of killing his dog (her name was Daisy, and she was very cute). This aggression, unknowingly committed against a man so dangerous that he used to be known as “Baba Yaga,” forced John back into the network of contract killers he’d once left behind. And ever since the shadowy crime lords of the High Table sniffed blood, they haven’t lost the scent or minded their own business.

At the end of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” our laconic hero committed a big no-no by shooting a pest on the consecrated grounds of the Continental Hotel, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and every New Yorker knows what it’s like when the world gets a bit too close for comfort.

Giddy, exhausting, and breathtakingly violent, “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” begins a few seconds after the previous installment left off, with the excommunicated assassin trying to make the most of the hour-long headstart he’s been given to hide before the $14 million bounty on his head is triggered and the entire criminal underworld comes after him. Of course, anyone who’s seen the previous films in this unexpected franchise knows that its criminal underworld is more of an overworld, and that almost every featured extra — from street vendors and waiters to dog-walkers and homeless people — is a heat-packing hired gun who uses their role in the capitalist system as a disguise for their deeper allegiance to a veiled society that operates on an ancient market of codes and blood oaths.

Now that Mr. Wick is square in the middle of all of those crosshairs, it’s become comically impossible for the deathless widow to find the solace he seeks. He’s a target, and it seems like the entire world has its finger on the trigger; he used to be anonymous, but now he’s a celebrity.

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