Photo: Niko Tavernise/Summit Entertainment Two years ago, John Wick: Chapter 2 was a crazy-big surprise — radical, as its star, Keanu Reeves, would once have put it. Its director, former stuntman Chad Stahelski, transmuted mindless carnage into something abstractly beautiful and horrifying with the formal elegance of Kabuki. Stahelski was justly proud, and bless him for aiming even higher with John Wick: Chapter Three — Parabellum . The movie has more outlandish set pieces, more flashy locales (from Times Square to the Sahara to the groovy, aquarium-like boardroom of the assassins' Ritz, the Continental Hotel), and a cityscape bejeweled by candy-colored lighting. The cast has been beefed up with likable actors — not just the familiar Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne but Halle Berry, Angelica Huston, and the charismatic Mark Dacascos as a sushi chef–samurai–John Wick fanboy. The plotting is no longer linear: It's positively labyrinthine, with a mythical universe of godlike assassins and their minions. The movie should by rights be a "Wow!" But it feels bloated, self-conscious, and pretentious, with long waits between its few dazzling fights. Evidently, it's hard to build on a premise that's basically so vacuous and dumb. Parabellum kicks off where Chapter… Read full this story
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