john wick chapter 3 parabellum critic reviews keanu reeves
Summit Entertainment

This Friday marks the much-hyped return of John Wick, the legendary hitman who once killed three men with a pencil. And, if the critic reviews are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.

Starring Keanu Reeves as the titular, immaculately-suited assassin, the third film in the franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, is said to be an epic, action-filled, ridiculous adventure filled with high-intensity fight sequences. So intense, in fact, that USA Today said the film makes James Bond look as hardcore as Pepper Pig. Watch the trailer below.

With many dubbing the third outing as the best film in the franchise so far, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum now boasts a solid 98 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes — that’s higher than its two predecessors, John Wick and John Wick 2, which hold scores of 87 percent and 89 percent respectively.

That doesn’t mean that everyone is so enamored with Wick’s return, however. Find a full round-up of what the major film critics are saying about John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum below.

It’s the best film in the franchise so far

“‘ Like John Wick himself, this third chapter feels like a lean, mean, fighting machine – and, yes, it’s the best film of the franchise so far, even surpassing the first film. There are moments in ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ where I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’ve never seen that before.'””

Mike Ryan, Uproxx

Reeves is enigmatic as John Wick

“As [Reeves] strolls nonchalantly from corpse pile-up to corpse pile-up, it’s impossible to take your eyes off him — after decades of films like these starring hulking glowerers such as Steven Seagal or Jason Statham, somehow his zen mien makes it all seem fresh.”

Nick De Semlyen, Empire

The action sequences are ‘bananas’

“The third film is, hands down, the most giddily brutal and bananas film in the series to date. So much so, that I completely gave up on keeping a running tab of the film’s bodycount after the first 10 minutes and just settled in for all of the giddy carnage.”

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

“[The action sequences are] awfully fun to watch in director Chad Stahelski’s solid continuation of the killer franchise that makes James Bond look about as hardcore as Peppa Pig.”

Brian Truitt, USA Today

“In the John Wick universe, the law of diminishing returns does not exist. Somehow, each new entry in the action franchise only ups its game, going bigger, bolder, and crazier. With ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,’ director Chad Stahelski takes the series to new heights, upping the stakes, expanding the mythology, and unleashing one jaw-dropping action sequence after another, to a point where it becomes damn near euphoric. John Wick 3 is a bone-cracking, horse-kicking, dog-biting, book-smashing, ax-throwing action masterpiece.”

Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm

It’s predictably ridiculous, but in a good way

“As hard as it is to believe after two hours of violence — often exhilarating, sometimes semi-comic, occasionally merely exhausting — Chad Stahelski’s ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum’ [is] … an epic of choreographed mayhem that expands the Wickiverse in mostly pleasing ways, it is destined to satisfy fans of this surprise-hit franchise: If its ludicrous aspects bug you, what the hell are you doing here?”

John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

Some think the violence is a little gratuitous, though

“Action filmmaking is one of the purest forms of cinema that exists, and fight choreography can be as graceful, intricate, and demanding as ballet. On a level of pure craft, then, ‘John Wick 3’ is unquestionably great action filmmaking — certainly the most technically accomplished of the series thus far, with a good dozen scenes that could only have been pulled off by a director, a stunt team, an editor, and a cast working at the absolute highest level. But as masterfully executed as the action is, watching two-plus hours of mayhem without any palpable dramatic stakes, or nuance, or any emotion at all save bloodlust offers undeniably diminishing returns. There are only so many times you can see a bullet pass through a skull before it gets deadening, and then almost dull.”

Andrew Barker, Variety

“But though ‘Parabellum’ delivers at least a couple of action scenes that rank with the best of the series … there’s a certain fatigue to its two biggest set pieces, both of which pit Wick and his allies against unending waves of faceless henchmen. Wick is unstoppable. Do the movies know where to stop?”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Film Club

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum lands in theaters nationwide Friday, May 17.

On this week’s episode of The Dropcast, we are joined by Iddris Sandu — architect and technology advocate who has worked with Nipsey Hussle on co-creating the late artist’s smart-retail platform and put his time in at Google at the age of 13, among other admirable accomplishments.

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