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'John Wick: Chapter 3' is a brutally violent, gorgeously crafted

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Keanu Reeves stars as ‘John Wick’ in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.{ }(Photo: Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
4 out of 5 Stars
Director:
Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R for pervasive strong violence, and some language

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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Having killed a member of the High Table assassin’s guild, a $14 million bounty is put out for John Wick.

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Review: If you haven’t watched the first two films in the John Wick franchise I wouldn’t recommend starting with “Parabellum.” The previous movies were packed with an ample amount of world building and character exploration that is essential to the understanding of the various plot points throughout “Parabellum.” This is because each sequel takes place immediately after the events of the film that precedes it. There’s no break and as a result there’s little time given to backstory. We do get quite a few new characters, but they function as cogs in the already-established machine. With “Parabellum”the filmmakers take the world they have built have around John Wick and burn that structure to the ground.

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The film brings back plenty of familiar characters including Wick (Keanu Reeves), Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburn) and Charon (Lance Reddick) and adds Stella (Halle Berry), Zero (Mark Dacascos), The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillion) with appearances from Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoul and Jerome Flynn in smaller roles. Those familiar with the Gareth Evans' The Raid franchise (and you should be) will recognize some of the members of Zero’s gang. Berry is particularly good.

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To say that “Parabellum” is brutally violent would be something of an understatement. Like “The Raid” and its sequel, the John Wick films feature extended fight sequences that tend to feature extended close-quarter fights with guns, knives, well-trained dogs and just about anything else that can be used as a weapon. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen ("The Shape of Water") frames the action perfectly. Rather than cutting together tight shots, Lausten shoots from a comfortable distance that allows audiences to discern and appreciate Jonathan Eusebio's fight choreography regardless of how frantic the action gets.

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“Parabellum” isn't nearly as smart as its predecessors, but still provides its share of jaw-dropping set pieces that will have fans of the franchise cheering the complexity and creativity of the fight choreography.