Review – John Wick 3: Parabellum

On February 6, 2015 the Wachowski Brothers….errr…the Wachowski Sisters….uhhhh…what the hell, the Wachowskis delivered a terrible Jupiter Ascending with a production budget of 176 million. This boring piece of alleged film-making brought in about 184 million worldwide, chop that in half and you see what a bust this was for the directors who should have given the world what the world wanted: Matrix 4.

John Wick 3, for all intents and purposes, IS Matrix 4. It reunites Neo, Keanu Reeves, with his mentor, Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne, a duo who last appeared together in the November 5, 2003 The Matrix Revolutions (150 m budget, over 427 million return,) and the May 2003 The Matrix Reloaded (both films shot at the same time; budget 150 m, 742 plus return; and for good measure the original March 1999 The Matrix cost around 63 m and brought in around 463m)

According to WICKipedia, the 122 minutes of the 2nd John Wick film cost 40m and brought in 171.5 m. Wikipedia, usually reliable with the film costs, doesn’t have info for JW3 budget just yet. – Joe Viglione

Ultra-violence is the theme here with cutting and slashing and gore beyond gratuitous. So much so that, despite my enjoying the film for its acting, spectacular cinematography and many, many Matrix elements, I probably won’t be watching it again anytime soon. Was I judging the film for the MPAA I would rate it X for the extreme meat grinder that it is.

But there IS the taxi cab in the pouring rain, a la Matrix 1, chase scenes a la Matrix 2 and 3, Keanu and Laurence back together again, images reminiscent of Neo vs Mr. Smith, and ninja battles that are so reminiscent of the fight scenes in Matrix that you get the marketing at play here: this is Keanu Reeves “Mission Impossible,” the safety net Tom Cruise has when he needs a little career jolt. Reeves’ acting is superb, twenty years after the naive Mr. Anderson/Neo, Keanu Reeves is in full control, superb acting from all involved. Anjelica Huston? Marvelous, brilliant, as is Halle Berry, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, they all came to this deadpan humor fest with tons of brío,

Indeed, the bloodletting is offset by the humorous camera shots, director Chad Stahelski and the actors adding dark humor to the ax to the head or the dozens of slice and dice moments. The younger audiences want the lurid killings, and that’s a shame. Svengoolie on METV playing The Bride of Frankenstein this past weekend (May 11, 2019) is Exhibit A as to why the vintage early sound horror movies had a touch of class when it came to the bloodshed. Words like “macabre” and “morbidly gruesome” were used by critics for the 1935 film which was a masterpiece of movie-making and certainly in my Top 25 of all-time great films. Eighty-four years later you have overkill, hacking away at the human body, deconstructing Frankenstein’s monster with so many bullets flying beyond the two hours plus that the NRA probably would give this film its stamp of approval.

And that’s the dicey part at play here. For today’s young slasher film audiences, John Wick 3 is going to make money hand over fist. For those of us who see the potential of the brilliant acting, cinematography and thick, dark humor – the bullets and the killings are a detriment. Were this film more vague about the butchering, an opaque mind twist leaving more to the imagination, it would be in a class by itself. But, alas, the kids want the slasher flicks, and this is high-quality slash, slash on a stylish and sophisticated level, the pluses being the minuses, but ones that will deliver hundreds of millions at the box office, and for the bottom line, that’s what it is all about. Money over true art. But for those in need of a Matrix fix, this is as close as you are going to get until the Wachowskis are forced to plug us back in. The feel of this motion picture, especially the zombie-like “adjudicator,” Asia Kate Dillon, makes it FEEL like you are back in the Matrix. Dillon is known as “non-binary” with Wikipedia explaining the person as ” having a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid).” Back in the Star Trek pilot with Jeffrey Hunter, The Menagerie/ The Cage, the Talosians were women with men’s voices, so Gene Rodenberry had the idea long before people started exploring different aspects of gender. There’s even a line from the Oracle (the Matrix series) though not bringing my notebook, I can’t recall it at the moment. Visceral vagueries and more cerebral parlance would have made this an extraordinary epic. But, alas, ruthlessness and barbarity are the order of the day here, so let the bullets fly!

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.