John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) – A Great Sequel Entering Dangerous New Ground

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum IMAX Poster Invites You ...

    “John Wick 3” is a great film. It is also a film that I worry has the potential to be the last great film in this Franchise. This film has action better than the first film but I’d argue the drama still isn’t as strong. The first film didn’t need a sequel, while this one goes all in on Franchising. This for me is the biggest issue, which is why I’ve brought it up twice. I enjoyed the new characters and this world run by assassins with deep lore is why I watched the sequel in the first place. This film grows on that, and it could go further and that is what makes it great, even if the film doesn’t feel like an end.

The film was directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins and Marc Abrams.

The story follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves) after “John Wick 2” as he loses protection and has all assassins set upon him. The High Table sends a Adjudicator  to punish all those who helped him, including the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and the Continental Hotel leading to a confrontation as John Wick seeks help to clear his name.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful. If you look at the poster that I used to start the review, it has that level of color contrast throughout the film. This is a film that makes the most of the environments the characters find themselves in. At one point we are in a desert, another time fighting in a library and the rainy streets of New York City. Dan Laustsen truly has a masterful eye.

The Action – This is a film that has some beautiful action. We have a gun and knife fight in a museum that has old guns and weapons. We get a fight in a room of mirrors with multiple combatants and a shoot-out in Casablanca. The “John Wick Franchise” has always been great on action and in this it got back to the variety of the first film and in many was better. This film went all in on the set pieces it gave us.

The Characters – The characters get exploration are some of the strongest part of this Franchise and this film delves into characters from 2 and introduces us to some great compelling villains who I can’t wait to learn more about. This is a character driven drama and this film fully embraces that.

Zero – Zero is the man the High Table hires to hunt down John Wick. Mark Dacascos does a wonderful job as the assassin. He is a fan of John Wick and has a sense of honor about him. He only does what is asked and never breaks the rules that are set.

The Adjudicator – Asia Kate Dillon is amazing. I’m so glad she survived this film. The Adjudicator is more threatening than any characters we’ve met so far. I’m including all those at the High Table too. Asia is also a non-binary actor and I’m hoping we see Asia in more things. The Adjudicator is the most compelling character in the series at this point outside of John Wick and I can’t wait to see how their story unfolds.

Sofia – Sofia owns the Continental in Casablanca and only helps John because he helped save her daughter. Their relationship is complicated and you can see the love and hatred within it. They are in a job where favors cost even  Things have to be pretty bad when it involves love. They were at one point clearly friends, but all of Sofia’s help comes from business or revenge. I hope she comes back. Halle Berry did an amazing job. She was one of my favorite characters in this film. I know she isn’t a fan of Wick, but her actions in the film made her an enemy of the High Table.

Berrada – Jerome Flynn (Bronn from “Game of Thrones”) shows up as the Master of Coin of the High Table and even though he helps John Wick (Tells him how to find the Elder, go into the desert and walk until you collapse). He also shoots Sofia’s dog when she refuses to give him it. He manages to survive Wick and Sofia so I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll turn up again. Berrada controls the money and is part of the balance of the High Table.

Winston and Charon – This is the film that shows just how great Winston and Charon are. Charon holds the line against The High Table’s forces with John Wick and is the only survivor outside of him. Winston is the manipulator. He calls a parlet after the battle is one and “kills” John Wick. What is implied is that he knew John Wick would survive and is still an ally even though the Adjudicator doesn’t trust what happened and says that his hotel is now responsible for killing Wick. How this will go remains to be seen. Ian McShane and Lance Reddik continue to be one of the strongest parts of this franchise. Can’t wait to see what their characters have planned next.

The Bowery King – Laurence Fishburne continues to be the core resistance against the High Table. When the Adjudicator shows up, he laughs in their face. This is a character I didn’t expect to survive. Given he did I think there is so much promise. He uses The Tick Tock Man (Jason Mantzoukas) to rescue John after he is shot by Wintson. This is a character who gets the long game and I really hope he gets a great story worthy of surviving the High Table’s revenge. Fishburne’s charisma and the fun he has is the character has been an enjoyment since the last film.

John Wick – John Wick drives the story. This is a man who returns to the family he left behind (The Ruska Roma) only to have them send him to Casablanca and to lose all their protection. From here he proceeds to lose more as when he meets the High Table Elder after injuring a member of the High Table in his quest for the Elder. When John does meet the Elder he gives up his wedding ring and is an assassin who is sent to kill Winston. Instead he joins Winston and protects the New York Continental only to barely survive when Winston parlays with the High Table and leaves him for dead after shooting him. What progress and safety he earned, he gave up and now all he has is the Bowery King and his war against the High Table who controls the world. Keanu Reeves owns this character and I think as worried as I am about this becoming a dead franchise, there is still a story to tell.

The Cons:

Too Long – This was problem the second film had as well. I would have cut the action sequences in half to get more lore. I get this is an action series but the lore is so rich and there are so many relationships that are worth exploring. When action drives everything it can only go so far. I love good action but character is what makes a film.

The Danger of Franchises Never Ending – This film is all about “John Wick 4.” Everything in the setup is sequel bate. How it will do that has me intrigued but that is also a danger. I can’t think of a good 3rd Movie post sequel that made me want a further franchise. It can work for books but films have less time. It could still be great but all it takes is a studio executive or lazy director not caring.

“John Wick 3” is a great film. If you have been along with the Franchise up to this point I’d say go for it. The action is compelling and the world is developed further. We meet the Elder who controls the High Council to some degree and we see Wick betray him. There is so much going on and the twist of the Bowery King surviving his punishment woks. I want more Fishburne as the Bowery King was always mad so we have two mad factions against each other. Order versus chaos. Part of me does wish it had ended here and that the story had continued without Wick, but if you are building Batman, you need Bruce Wayne and this series clearly knows that. I’m mostly worried about this series going “Die Hard 4.” I could be wrong, the writers are clearly intelligent but that will always be a fear with action franchises. If you saw the first 2 films, chances are you will enjoy this as much as I did. Check it out.

Final Score: 9.2 This is a great film and even with the danger of franchise overkill, there is promise in the story ahead.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episode 16 – “The Lawless” – The Dynamic of Power

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     “The Lawless” is where a lot of moments come to a head. Savage Opress’s story ends as does Satine’s. Maul finally faces his old Master and Mandalore is made vulnerable to a Republic invasion through internal strife and Civil War. It is powerful and shows that no one wins in the end, except maybe Sidious as he wants everything and now via Obi-Wan has all the reasons he needs to invade Mandalore and make it part of the Republic and later the Empire. It is a powerful episode and one of my favorites.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Chris Collins.

    The story involves Satine being used as bate for revenge to lure Obi-Wan to Mandalore. Once there she is killed by Maul in revenge. After Bo-Katan rescues Obi-Wan and as they fight to escape so that Obi-Wan can bring Republic help Sidious arrives to take on his rivals Maul and Opress.

The Pros: Satine – Satine’s death actually means something as we have got to know her as a character and even to the end she holds onto her nobility and reminds Obi-Wan of what to fight for. She was a great character who will be missed. R.I.P.

Bo-Katan – Bo-Katan is Satine’s sister and the current leader of Death Watch standing against Maul. She protects Obi-Wan and helps him escape and even is willing to call in the Republic as she knows Mandalore will endure through any occupation. She is a true nationalist and believer as she imprisoned her sister and her sister was her enemy up until the end when she realized that even if pacifism is wrong she always loved her sister.

Savage Opress – His development stopped but his death was still meaningful as buried under the Dark Magic the young boy who was turned into a weapon was still there. He was never as full of the Dark Side the way Maul was as for him it was against his will, Maul it is implied that he had more choice even if he was still used by the Witches. R.I.P.

Civil War on Mandalore – Death Watch against the Shadow Collective…and in the end the people lose. Both sides are powerful enough to keep the war going long enough for the Republic to invade. It is a tragic story but the Civil War makes sense, Mandalore has been through nothing but conflict since Death Watch against Satine and Maul just made certain it would last much longer by taking over and the Shadow Collective.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Kenobi loses the one person he loved and who loved him and through it all endures. His perseverance is strong in this and he never loses sight of Mandalore, for example he questions Bo-Katan when she wants to bring in the Republic as he knows Mandalore will no longer be neutral and that it will be under Republic control. His story truly is tragic and he doesn’t even get to kill Maul.

Darth Maul – Maul is the leader of Mandalore and is confident in this one. His trap goes as planned and he kills Satine to show Obi-Wan how he suffered. We also see that he didn’t have a choice to some degree as well as he was taken as a child to become a Sith. We see in the end he still that child when Sidious tortures him and he begs for mercy and to be brought back. He was still a powerful leader of his own faction though and this episode he was handled well, just like the last arc.

Darth Sidious – Sidious is the one who wins in the end. He wins Mandalore, destroys his rival in the Shadow Collective and Maul and has Maul as a tool even if he’ll never take him as an apprentice again. It is awesome to see him fight too as he wipes the floor with Opress and Maul. In the end he’s the only one who wins as a Republic invasion of Mandalore puts Mandalore under the Empire’s control later.

This was a great ending for a lot of characters. We see where some of the unspoken pain in Obi-Wan’s eyes come from when he talks about the Clone Wars comes from and we also have Opress and Maul’s arc come to a close and with it the dissolution of the 3rd Faction of the Shadow Collective. It is an episode with stakes and quite a few people die, it illustrates from this that in war, more often than not, there really aren’t winners except from those who profit from it’s existence in the first place.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 1, 14-15 – “Rise of the Shadow Collective Arc” – The 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars

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   Well, Darth Maul is cool again. This entire arc establishes why he became the Master in his and Savage’s relationship and we see him tactfully use others and rise to own and an entire portion of the Galaxy, all while being invisible to the Jedi as being the one behind it all. It is a really solid arc and one of my favorite so far that the show has done.

    “Revival” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Chris Collins who wrote the other two episodes in the arc. “Eminence” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “Shades of Reason” was directed by Bosco Ng.

     The story involves Darth Maul taking control of Savage and with him plotting to build an army so that they will no longer be drive wholly by revenge but by conquest and power. To this end he attempts to recruit Hondo’s pirates which nearly ends in their death from Obi-Wan until Death Watch rescues them. From there Maul uses Viszla to recruit all the Crime Syndicates to form to the Shadow Collective and finally deals with Viszla himself so that he can own Death Watch and Mandalore as well.

The Pros: Hondo and his Pirates – Hondo is great! When Maul and Savage turn some of his men against them he tantalizes them back by saying that they’ll just take the supplies on Maul’s and Savage’s ship. To this end they turn on the brothers and with Obi-Wan nearly kill them both. Hondo has fun the entire time and respects him men for betraying him for power.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan appears in the first episode in the arc and after Jedi Master Gallia is killed he almost defeats the Brothers Maul but is unable to when they make their escape. We see how powerful he is in this though as he holds off them both and manages to recruit Hondo against them too.

Death Watch – Death Watch is great! From Bo-Katan and Viszla’s quest for power and conquest of Mandalore following Maul’s plan in witch the gangs cause problems and Death Watch saves the people, leading to their taking over Mandalore and arresting Satine to Death Watch coming under control of Maul when he defeats Viszla in single combat. This organization is awesome.

Pre Viszla – This man is a nationalist and had no dreams of conquest, he just wanted to bring back the warrior culture to Mandalore. It is for this reason he arrests the Brothers Maul since Maul wants to conquer the Neutral worlds. He dies with honor in the end as Maul defeats him, though his legacy lives on as Death Watch and the culture of Death Watch now rules Mandalore. Jon Favreau was great as this character.

Bo-Katan – Katee Sackhoff rocks as the Second of Viszla’s who fights on after the Brothers Maul take over. She is a Mandalore patriot and Nationalist and believes only a Mandalorian should rule Mandalore.

Rise to Power – Maul and Savage’s rise to power is really cool. They kill the leaders of the gangs with Death Watch and establish control and then use those resources to fund Death Watch. It’s really well done and Darth Maul is calm and collected the entire time throughout it.

Darth Maul and Savage Opress – Maul is the Master with Opress as the apprentice and we see together they are unstoppable after their failure to get Hondo’s pirates. Maul has learned patience and through it we see him use the greed of the Syndicates and the pride of Death Watch to make them his and make him ruler of the 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars, The Shadow Collective. In the end he places Almec in charge as the face of Mandalore as he made the deal with him in prison and he was a man, unlike Viszla and Satine, who could be used.

Okay: The Gangs – The gangs have great designs but we don’t really see what the Pykes and Black Suns are doing before they are recruited. The Hutts get the most exploration as they were already explored pretty heavily already and they put up the greatest fight before becoming part of the Shadow Collective.

This was a fantastic arc and even though I don’t like that Darth Maul was brought back, I appreciate this story and I think it was one of the best to come out of the Clone Wars. The Shadow Collective is a perfect Sith Tool and I can’t wait to see how Dooku and Sidious deal with the new threat to their end game and plans.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 2-6 – “Revolution on Onderon Arc” – The Process of Rebellion

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  The “Revolution on Onderon Arc” is a pretty good arc. I am pretty annoyed at the character of Lux at this point as I never understood the romantic tension he had between himself and Ahsoka, it felt tacked on, which is a shame as if his character could develop more outside of that he isn’t that bad. The side characters in this are great though!

  “A War on Two Fronts” was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Chris Collins who wrote for all the episodes in the arc. “Front Runners” was directed by Steward Lee, “”The Soft War” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “Tipping Points” was directed by Bosco Ng.

    The story involves the Jedi Council sending Jedi advisers to Onderon to train the rebels of Onderon who are fighting against their corrupt King who joined the Separatists in order to reinstate the old King. From here they must train the Rebels in the art of fighting while staying out of the conflict itself.

The Pros: The Politics – The fact that the Republic is involved via the Jedi but in a manipulative way is really interesting and shows that even they are playing with the definition of neutrality (though Anakin is for more overt involvement though he toes the line later). It’s fascinating as well as the rise of the rebellion in popularity and how they go about doing that, the military’s relationship to the people and the past versus the current King.

The Kings – Ramsis supports the will of the people but not a violent uprising until he sees that the Separatists will go to any ends under the once idealistic King Sanjay who usurped him. They have an interesting relationship as they are nobility so they respect each other.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka must be an observer though she nearly gets involved when the Rebels are about to be executed. In this she is torn for her feelings for Lux and friendship with the group and her role as an observer Jedi. It isn’t dealt with fully but for what they did with it was decent.

Obi-Wan and Anakin – These two are two perspectives. Obi-Wan for as little involvement while Anakin wanted full action initially. This leads to them getting weapons to the Rebels via Hondo when Anakin’s perspective wins out. He also warns Ahsoka about personal feelings as he probably realizes how much his relationship to Padme has cost him in regards to being a Jedi too.

Hondo – Delivers weapons to the rebellion in a really cool way, the fact that Obi-Wan and Anakin want him to keep it on the down low makes it even more entertaining and you can tell how much Hondo loves having a favor over the Jedi.

The Rebels – The rebels are decent (Lux) to great (Saw and Steela) I will go into them individually below. The leader of the military joins the revolution too when the Separatists kill King Ramsis too.

Saw – Saw is angry and the assumed leader of the group and has a major indepedent streak. He is brother to Steela who becomes leader and we see that he believes so strongly in the revolution he turns the General serving King Sanjay.

Steela – Steela is the revolutionary who defeats Sanjay’s and the Separatist forces, though she dies in the process. She goes from a sniper, to the rebel leader to finally the head general of the rebellion. She’s a great character and is the calmest who can see the long game. Only issue was her jealous of Ahsoka in regards to Lux and her relationship.

Rebellion process – First was being able to fight back and building a base, next was attacking a major target to rally the populace and finally fighting with the populace against the oppressive force. I really liked how they did it these episodes.

Okay: Lux – Lux is there primarily as a relationship foil for Ahoska and Steela and for being inept and being the political one, in the end he decides that Onderon should join the Republic, which wasn’t a surprise given he does tend to go with what profits most in the end.

I really enjoyed this arc and liked that it had stakes, Steela’s death actually meant something and in the end things aren’t clear as Lux’s initial assessment about the Republic and the Separatists both being corrupt was spot on. Onderon may not survive the coming Empire.;

Final Score: 9 / 10