One of Hollywood"s best action franchises gets bigger — if not always better — in a bloody sequel that functions as a meditation on fame.

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“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum”

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To that end, it’s telling that the most exciting brawl in “Parabellum” (with the possible exception of a knife fight in a Chinatown antiques store) maintains a more expansive vision, as Mr. Wick fights alongside Halle Berry và some four-legged sidekicks. Traveling khổng lồ Casablanca for reasons that are never adequately explained, Mr. Wick meets up with an assassin named Sofia who owns a pair of well-trained Malinois dogs; like every other supporting character in this movie, there’s mixed blood between them, & she owes him something for some reason.

There are coins & seals và lots of jibber jabber about High Table manners và then “Game of Thrones” star Jerome Flynn shows up as a Bronn-like business type who’s a bit too greedy for his own good (it’s hard khổng lồ tell what accent Flynn is doing here, but he’s most definitely doing it). When the bullets fly, Sofia’s very good boys lend a valuable assist, và Stahelski has to mở cửa things up in order khổng lồ frame the dogs as they chew on fresh corpses. The sequence is very “John Wick” và horribly terrific in a hand-over-your-mouth kind of way; it does more than any of the tossed-off business with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburn) or the Continental hotel owner (Ian McShane) khổng lồ whet our appetites for another adventure. Anjelica Huston is also somewhat wasted as the matriarch of a Harlem ballet academy with ties to lớn Wick’s past, but her scenes are so immaculately shot that you’re willing to lớn let it slide.

In a film that plays fast and loose with NYC geography, all is forgiven by turning 175th street’s United Palace into the “Tarkovsky Theater,” where people are trained khổng lồ be killers in between performances of “Swan Lake.”

The film’s world-building works best in small doses. A meeting in the middle of the desert is a total dead end, whereas all sorts of fun details can be inferred from Stahelski’s frequent cutaways to the High Table nerve center, where dozens of tattooed and lip-glossed workers monitor Wick’s bounty with an old-fashioned switchboard (imagine a SuicideGirls reboot of “Mad Men” và you’ll have the right idea). Non-binary “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon plays a stiff and slinky High Table adjudicator who’s covered in Thierry Mugler coture; part referee và part femme fatale, their performance speaks lớn an underworld that’s sustained by a mutual respect for all people so long as they don’t shoot the wrong target.

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While this franchise is starting lớn feel a bit long in the tooth, such details suggest that screenwriter Derek Kolstad (here sharing credit with three other scribes) can still mine this world for plenty of new life, so long as future installments find a way to lớn deepen the John Wick mythos instead of just stretching it out. With the significant exception of “Mission: Impossible,” this is easily the best kích hoạt franchise Hollywood has going these days, và it would be great for it to keep going with renewed focus.

The fact that Keanu Reeves is nearing 60 won’t matter to lớn his fans. For one thing, the man is seemingly ageless. For another, retirement no longer seems like a realistic option for a guy who still gets recognized everywhere he goes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Hollywood star or a $14 million bounty — fame can be a difficult thing lớn shake. It’s a work-or-die world, & being forgotten is neither on the table nor under it.

Grade: B

LionsGate will release “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” in theaters on Friday, May 17.

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This Article is related to: Film and tagged Halle Berry, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Keanu Reeves, Reviews