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.