I don’t know how I can enjoy a movie where someone is shot in the head at close range every minute, but so help me, I do find the John Wick movies fun. I don’t know if it’s something wrong with me or with America, but they’re so over the top bonkers, while Keanu Reeves is so earnest, that you can’t take the murder sprees seriously. It also helps that it’s a fantasy world where there are avaricious assassins lurking everywhere, so when one of them leaps out at you with kung-fu or a big sword or a nasty looking gun, it’s perfectly excusable to shoot them in the head. What else could you do? Style points for executing them elegantly and brutally.
The movie is also self-conscious. I didn’t come up with the comparison in my title, the movie overtly references both Buster Keaton and ballet at several points. It combines the slapstick physicality of Keaton with the grace of a dance, although neither of those influences usually culminate in bloody violence. There is a kind of inevitability to the story, too. You know that when Reeves finds himself in a shop selling exotic knives, he will be breaking open every cabinet and throwing and stabbing and slashing with all of them. When he has a fight in a ritzy high end hotel with glass statuary lining the place, someone is going to get thrown into each and every one of them. It’s a thematic obligation, and it’s strangely satisfying when expectations are fulfilled.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum was predictably unpredictable, fun, and horrific, a nightmare where everything turns out OK. It also beautifully sets up John Wick: Chapter 4, so now I’m going to have to go see that as soon as it comes out.