4K Ultra HD Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane
Director: Chad Stahelski
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Studio: Lionsgate
Features: See Review
Length: 130 Minutes
Release Date: September 10, 2019

Under the circumstances your privileges are reinstated immediately, what do you need?”

Guns...lots of guns.”

Film ***1/2

I just came to something of a bizarre realization, which is the John Wick series has a similar progression to that of, strangely enough, Austin Powers. Both started out with a first installment that was a surprise sleeper hit that became an even bigger hit in the video/DVD market. And just as Mike Myers’ spy spoof had become a monster box office success by the release of its third installment, such was the case with Keanu Reeves’ ultra-extravagant action series.

But onto the movie, itself. When it comes to movies completely driven by insane, wall-to-wall action sequences, the John Wick movies are about as wild and riveting as they have gotten ever since the first movie surfaced in 2014. In that film, the titular character (Reeves) was the deadliest assassin imaginable who was enjoying a nice quiet retirement until some Russian thugs had the bright idea of stealing his car and killing his dog, which was a gift from his recently deceased wife.

Since then, lots of bullets have been fired and many bodies have, to quote a certain popular song from the early 2000s, hit the floor. In Chapter 2, Wick had found himself the target of a nasty setup, which resulted in him committing a violent act on forbidden grounds and ended with him on the run after he had been officially labeled as “excommunicado”, meaning he was completely off limits for any assistance from the high level crime organization he had been affiliated with. In addition to that, a $14 million price tag had been placed on his head.

Which brings us to Chapter 3: Parabellum, which easily serves as the most insanely violent installment to date, as well as the absolute best. That’s saying quite a lot following the back to back high quality value established by the first two movies. The level of high velocity action has escalated a great deal with each chapter, and Chapter 3 represents the biggest display yet!

With the high priced bounty on his head, Wick is having to elude and pick off countless bands of assassins left and right. Not only does he use his fists, guns or knives to fend off his many foes, but he even manages to make deadly use of both a library book and a horse’s hind legs (in one of the funniest sight gags you’re ever likely to witness). And that’s just in the first 30 minutes!

While it may be hard to detect anything close to resembling a plot within all the chaotic action, there is actually kind of a convoluted one lingering in the background. Even though his organization has betrayed him, Wick’s mission is to get back in it’s good graces. In order to do so, he learns he will have to kill Winston (Ian McShane), his trusted superior, which leads to a climatic confrontation with an outcome that’s truly hard to guess.

But even with the barest thread of plot to string everything together, this is a movie that succeeds extremely on the visceral strength of the action and fight choreography, which is of the highest order here. Mr. Reeves is in his mid 50s, and appears to have incorporated a good bit of his own physicality in the action sequences, thus earning my complete respect. And I haven’t even mentioned the addition of Halle Berry as a deadly former cohort of Wick’s, who comes complete with pair of attack dogs who simply have to be seen to be believed once they go into attack mode.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum represents a high point for both the series and the action movie genre. The only thing that stands a chance of surpassing it will be that of a fourth chapter, which has already been slated for a release in 2021!

Video ****

Lionsgate delivers a magnificent visual punch with this most outstanding 4K release! This is the fist movie in the series that I’ve experienced in this format, and I can definitely say that it fits right at home! The neon lit NYC setting alone gives this presentation plenty of eye-gazing quality to spare, allowing the colors to really pop off the screen. And various set pieces, especially that of The Continental hotel for the movie’s climax, show off extravagantly well.

Audio ****

The Dolby Atmos track is fully alive with fierce octane right from the very start. Every gun fire, knife throw, punch and kick is captured beautifully here, and since those very elements dominate the presentation, there’s a lot of it to spare. Music playback and dialogue delivery balance out terrifically as well. You’ll be hard pressed to fine a more furious sounding presentation this year!

Features ***

On this Lionsgate release, you’ll find a multitude of featurettes on both the 4K and standard Blu-ray discs. Among them are “Parabellum: Legacy of The High Table”, “Excommunicado”, “Check Your Sights”, “Saddle Up Wick", “Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits”, “Continental in the Desert”, “Dog Fu”, “House of Transparency” and “Shot by Shot”. Also included are two Theatrical Trailers, as well as a trailer and a Behind the Scenes look at the video game titled “John Wick Hex”.


John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum easily qualifies as the year’s best action offering. Keanu Reeves dominates this role as smoothly as possible, and the action beats definitely astound the senses on multiple occasions. And the 4K release from Lionsgate enhances this visceral experience to absolute full effect!

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