A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is the third film in the action/fighting-heavy John Wick movie series starring Keanu Reeves. Violence is constant and extremely intense. Much of it is done in an over-the-top, video game way that includes tons of guns and shooting, spurting blood and gore, knives and swords, slicing and stabbing (including into an eyeball), killing, martial arts, burning skin, bloody surgery, high-speed chases, and much more. Sex isn't an issue, language is infrequent (a couple of uses of "f--k," "s--t," and the like, plus a middle-finger gesture), and substance use is limited to social drinking -- mainly expensive-looking whiskey or brandy -- and cigar, pipe, cigarette smoking by minor/background characters. This installment is a bit longer and more complex than the previous two, but it still has the same jaw-dropping choreography, cinematography, and editing. Halle Berry and Ian McShane co-star.
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What's the story?
In JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM, it's not long after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is about to become excommunicado. When that happens, every killer in New York will be after him -- and the $14 million bounty for getting him. Wick gathers every marker he has and goes about collecting favors. After fighting off dozens of dangerous assassins, he heads to Casablanca, where he meets colleague Sofia (Halle Berry). With her reluctant help, Wick hopes to speak to the head of the entire organization and perhaps set things right. Meanwhile, the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) has been doling out punishments to Continental Hotel manager Winston (Ian McShane) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) for Wick's rule-breaking. Before long, Wick is back in New York at a newly deconsecrated Continental for a massive showdown.
Is it any good?
This third entry in the over-the-top action series gets more complicated, with lots more explanation -- but the bracingly crisp, fluid fight choreography still blows away most challengers. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum -- the titular "parabellum" refers to either a type of gun or to the phrase "If you want peace, prepare for war" -- begins directly after the end of the second movie. In that one, and in the first surprise hit John Wick (2014), Wick's character simply wanted peace but sought revenge after being attacked. The setups were simple, and everything that followed was so stripped down and pure that it was almost existential.
John Wick: Chapter 3 turns the franchise into a universe. It has a far more expansive and complex setup, which may please some genre fans but also takes away the appealing mystery and newness of the first movies. That said, director/former stuntman Chad Stahelski, who worked on all three movies, proves himself a choreographer well beyond most of his contemporaries. He not only knows how to put together convincing and exciting fights, but he films them with long, graceful takes, similar to the way that dances by Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers were once filmed. The backgrounds are also unique, with spaces -- such as an adobe-colored mansion with pillars and low walls, or a several-storied chamber made entirely of glass -- that inform the action. There's a lot of fighting in this one (it's much longer than the previous two), but it somehow keeps up the adrenaline without burning out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum's violence. How did it make you feel? Shocked? Thrilled? Do you think all of it is necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is John Wick a hero or a villain? How can you tell? Is it OK to sympathize with characters who do illegal/wrong things?
What motivates John Wick? Do you understand where he's coming from? Does he have any acceptable excuses for violence?
How important are rules in this story? Are rules made to be broken? What about rules in your home or school?
How does this sequel compare with the first two entries?
- In theaters: May 17, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 10, 2019
- Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane
- Director: Chad Stahelski
- Studios: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive strong violence, and some language
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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