(Release Info London schedule; May 15th, 2019, Odeon Haymarket, 11/18 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DP, 12:20 pm)
"John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum"
Super-Assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail; he's the target of hit men and women everywhere. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, 'The High Table', John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn.
In the beginning John Wick wants to pay his respects to the best of atmospheric action cinema, by stripping a modern noir down to it's most unvarnished kinetic and emotional thrills. Without putting any limits on himself, the films imagines the most non-stop, concussive ride he could through a universe as perilous as it's darkly vibrant. In this chapter, John Wick goes to war with the world. This gives us a chance to go to new places, go deeper into his personal journey and expand the journeys of other characters. For this chapter, the film wants each of the action sequences to bring a new and different flavor, each gives you a bit more insight and clues into the different elements of who John Wick is and the path he's on. The emotional stakes mount with the physical challenges as Wick is forced to call in debts and rely on the deadly gifts from which he wants to escape. He's still looking for absolution, but meanwhile, nearly everyone is trying to kill him, so he must revert back to someone he doesn't want to be in order to survive. As the film’s ever-expanding canvas takes audiences deeper into John Wick’s origins, the story demands an even more technically evolved Wick. There are so many different kinds of action sequences, not only more styles of martial arts and more gunplay, but also motorcycles, horses and dogs. As John Wick is pushed to take last-ditch measures to dodge the global price on his head, he reveals more and more of just how thick and dark a web 'The High Table' is capable of spinning.
In this film, you’ll see much more of this mythological, hyper-real world full of secret hotels, hidden underworlds and men and women possessed of crazy skills. The film gives you a sense of John Wick’s vulnerability without him ever feeling the least bit weak or contrived. The film also brings an earnestness to John Wick so, at the same time, you believe he takes it all very seriously. This time, you see more of John Wick’s world than ever. 'The John Wick' character is a compelling mix of lethal resolve and dryly humorous charm, fierce athleticism and suave grace. He's quietly a lethal man, a man who simply wants to live in peace with his dog following the loss of his beloved wife Helen. In "Parabellum", things have changed, though John Wick’s hope to even take a breath, let alone find peace, has never seemed more improbable. The character who once doggedly pursued revenge is now the prey, surviving solely on Helen’s memory. In this chapter the character is battling himself as much as the entire world. There’s a battle he’s becoming more conscious of in "Parabellum", a battle between two sides of himself. John is the guy who just wants to be left alone, who seeks a quiet life in which to remember his wife. In order to do that he has to engage the side of himself that's John Wick, the side that knows how to fight to the death. John Wick is the only one who can help John survive.
As John Wick begins calling in favors to try to stay alive, knowing every assassin in every city is looking for him, he journeys to Morocco. In the searing deserts of 'The Sahara', John knows he will find a woman from his past, a fellow assassin who owes him, and isn’t too happy to see him. This is Sofia (Halle Berry). Sofia brings some real heart and soul to the story as someone from John Wick’s past who knows the costs of doing what he does. Sofia, like John Wick, is a loner in this dark world of assassins, retaining an aura of mystery to all that come across her. There's more to learn about her. What we know in this chapter is that she's trained by the same person who trained John Wick and their styles of fighting are very much the same. They clearly have some history together and we know that John saved Sofia's daughter Jenna (Dana Schick) at some point and that Sofia gave up all contact with her daughter in order to keep her safe. That's part of what sets Sofia apart in this mysterious universe. She has this very real and tangible person that she loves very much and that she's fighting for. It’s the balance between Sofia and John Wick that brings a fresh energy to "Parabellum". Sofia brings a really cool, sexy vibe to this world that typically has a more muscular and masculine feel.
"John Wick: Parabellum" brings to light more about 'The High Table', which not only sells hits around the world, it also serves as a kind of underground justice system. Like a modern twist on 'King Arthur’s Round Table', the brutal enforcers of the world’s crime kingdoms are held in check by a staunch code of honor and a powerful elite who mete out penance. The Director' (Anjelica Huston) runs a school for assassins. 'The Director' is in charge of a very special kind of theatrical institute where children are trained either to be great artists or to have very special physical skills. She's a woman who straddles the worlds of devoted artistic perfection and crime. She’s someone who's having once been an assassin for 'The High Table' herself, but she long ago climbed the staircase of the assassin world, and now she runs the training. She's surrounded by beautiful young ballerinas who are going to be wonderful spies as well as martial arts geniuses who are junior assassins. 'The King' is also back in "Parabellum". 'The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) is the underworld leader who uses New York’s gritty 'Bowery' district as a cover. This unusual character is an instant draw. In this film, you learn more about the symbiosis between 'The Bowery', 'The Continental' and 'The High Table'. No matter how dire the circumstances, he’s always so polite yet so righteous in his rage and anger. 'The Bowery King' is just as much a criminal as anybody in this world, but he follows the code.
With the rules broken and John Wick on the run, 'The High Table' has been shaken and must take measures to regain control. However, not everyone has chosen clear sides. That's especially true of Winston (Ian McShane), the sly manager of New York’s 'Continental Hotel', where he has long kept chaos away from this essential neutral zone for assassins. Only now, Winston is contemplating to do what few would ever dare; go to war with 'The High Table'. It's time to show some of Winston’s internal struggle in running 'The Continental'. What does he want? What's his end game? Winston and John Wick have a strange loyalty to each other in a world where real bonds that go outside the rules rarely exist. In many ways, Winston is the only kind of family John Wick has left. You get to learn more about Winston and you get to learn more about the inner workings of 'The Continental'. At the same time, one message remains the same; don’t screw with John Wick. Charon (Lance Reddick) also rejoins as 'The Continental’s' multi-talented concierge and Winston’s resourceful right-hand man. He's a lot like 'Batman’s Alfred'; that unsung guy behind the scenes who keeps everything running smoothly. In this film, Charon takes on his largest role yet, as his services become essential to 'The Continental’s' war against 'The High Table'. You definitely see a lot more of Charon in this chapter. His responsibilities are taken to a whole new level.
'The Adjudicator' (Kate Dillon), is an authoritative power that enforces the rules of 'The High Table' with a pitiless efficiency. She's a character who stands apart from all our assassins and judges everybody in this unethical world, while enforcing their fealty to 'The High Table'. She's almost like an insurance investigator who in a very sober, cold and matter-of-fact way, investigates what rules were broken, who broke them and what the punishment should be. She has come to adjudge Winston for breaking the rules of 'The Continental'. We learn that everyone has to pay for any wrong doing in the eyes of 'The High Table' one way or another. If the rules are broken in this world it will be dealt with, and the person who's judge and jury is 'The Adjudicator'. 'The Adjudicator' turns to Zero (Mark Dacascos), a top 'The High Table’s' most lethal list, to mete out the death sentence on John Wick. Zero might be dead-set on taking John Wick’s life for the huge bounty, but he can’t help but idolize the invincible assassin.
Zero loves everything about John Wick, his style, his grace, his class, his efficiency and how brutal he's while still being a gentleman. He's the biggest fanboy of John Wick there's, and he wants to be on a par with him. He's also a 'Shinobi', a 'Ninja' warrior, so he has students he cares for like his own children. Zero is, to put it mildly, a little psychotic. He has a broken rhythm, where he’ll be smooth then suddenly frantic. While in Morocco, John Wick risks it all to seek out the sage advice of one of the most revered, if rarely seen, members of The High Table', a man known simply as 'The Elder' (Saïd Taghmaoui). 'The Elder' is a guide for assassins. Berrada (Jerome Flynn) is an Italian member of 'The High Table'. He looks after the foundry where they make the gold markers. He’s a bit like Bronn in some ways because he’s a survivor and he’s got a real sense of humor to his brutal darkness. 'The Tick Tock Man' (Jason Mantzoukas) keeps track of time, which John Wick is running out of, for 'The Bowery King'.
Five years ago, 'The Premiere Chapter' of John Wick set a new bar for action films. In this hardboiled world of killers- for-hire, audiences worldwide experienced the rush of dazzlingly pure battle sequences, of which moved like a frenzied ballet, pushing practical filmmaking to it's limits. John Wick had become a flesh and blood icon, embraced by audiences hungry to see and know more about him and his stylishly seductive world. From the propulsive start of "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum", the clock ticks relentlessly against the formerly retired super-assassin. The action picks up directly from 'Chapter 2' as John Wick finds himself on the brink of being declared excommunicado; stripped of the protective services of 'The High Table', the secretive global association of crime organizations that enforces the assassins’ code. With a $14 million bounty on his head, even John Wick has never faced so many simultaneous threats hellbent on ending his existence. Enemies are everywhere, but that will only drive Wick to the ends of the earth as he continues to seek a personal reckoning. Now, 'Chapter 3' expands 'The Wick Universe', revealing more about the hidden operations of 'The High Table' and introducing intriguing new characters.
How can you continue to stay true to what the franchise created with John Wick, while constantly upping the bar? In usual form, "Parabellum" is rife with nods to cinematic legends, from a wink at Russian film master Andrei Tarkovsky to visual echoes of 'Lawrence Of Arabia'. To him, there's still nothing more fun than the sheer human pyrotechnics of one man struggling to outlast every possible form of attack. Why do people love kung-fu movies, spaghetti Westerns, a Steve McQueen car chase, Charles Bronson swinging his ax and "Die Hard: 80s action? It's that grounded excitement you get from stunts that feel real but that you’ve never seen before. When John Wick makes his passage to Morocco, a country that has long lit the imaginations of filmmakers and moviegoers, the film reveals a new kind of version of the famed 'Continental Hotel'. It's an homage to that most classic Humphrey Bogart noir of all, Michael Curtiz’s "Casablanca". Morocco is also a way to see how the John Wick vibe might translate to a sun-soaked locale. It's the contrast of going from rainy, gray, textured concrete of New York to Morocco, with it's heat, sand, color and rolling dunes. It’s a pretty intense change of pace. In many ways, this realm of glimmering, splintering glass represents all the contrasts that make "John Wick" so beguiling; the way the series plays with both the brutal and the beautiful, the straight forward and the magical, the most demanding designs yet the purest visual storytelling.
In an era of seductively unreal digital effects, part of the John Wick ethos has been to entirely buck the trend. In John Wick’s world, the thrills are primal and always based around practical, if high-wire, stunts. In this world, jump-cuts never interrupt a fight. Rather than zoom in to create illusions, the camera instead always pans out, the better to show the audience every precarious detail. Whereas much of the fighting in the first two chapters was one-on-one, in "Parabellum" there's a fresh focus on large-scale group action which really put the spotlight on choreography. Given the bounty on his head, Wick also faces a far greater breadth of enemies, pitting himself against more distinct styles of martial arts, from kung fu and wushu to 'Indonesian' silat. Each is shot differently, in different environments, featuring different skill sets. "Parabellum" goes beyond martial arts spectacles to stunts that range from a high-speed horse chase through New York City to climbing sand dunes in 'The Sahara'. From the outset, John Wick forged it's own aesthetic; a dark neo-noir realm lit with neon hues and the fierce determination and sly humor of it's characters. Everything in this world is pushed and hyper-real and sexy and dramatic. This film is even more colorful, has stronger contrast and showcases even wilder action. The design of the films, the language, the deadpan comedy and the irony of it all feels very contemporary yet also a lot of fun.