Keanu Reeves’ on-screen character, John Wick, brings his kill count to 300 people in his latest outing. His killing spree, in spectacular fashion - ranging from breaking necks to stabbing people, and from beating people to death with a book to shooting them in the head - has in fact become so popular that there are now websites dedicated to detailing and keeping count of his kills.

In the latest sequel, Wick slays 85 people. And these are almost entirely henchmen, surely not the nicest people on Earth, but are at the end of the day simply following orders. Surprisingly enough, not in any one of this movie’s action sequences does Wick get shot.

Sure, he wears a bulletproof suit concocted for the purposes of this movie - which for some reason can easily be penetrated by a blade - but not one of the 85 bad guys he rams through manages to sneak up and shoot him in the head. Wick truly has an angel that looks out for him.

The film’s plot takes place right after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2. Wick had just assassinated the equivalent of a senator of a major criminal underground, which has its own institutions, laws, bureaucracy and even foreign offices. Consequentially, he is excommunicated, and a 14-million-dollar bounty is placed on his head.

Running out of friends and resources but aided by a great deal of plot convenience, Wick has to seek The Elder, the only person that can reinstate his status in the criminal underground.

Meanwhile, a Japanese assassin and his protégés are hired by the High Table, the ruling body of the criminal underworld, to assassinate Wick. The master assassin, Zero, is played exquisitely by Mark Dacascos, as a ruthless and highly-skilled killer that nonetheless has a great deal of respect for the work Wick has done while he was an assassin. Peer recognition matters a great deal in this assassin underworld.

Cecip Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian, best known for their work as villains in The Raid and its sequel, are unfortunately reduced to mere henchmen, almost faceless for most of the film, despite the dynamism and colour they could have brought to the table.

Like its predecessor, John Wick 3 ends on a cliffhanger, setting itself up for yet another sequel. The film has grossed a quarter of a billion dollars to date, so the trilogy is going to be extended not only by a sequel but a spinoff and possibly a crossover with Charlize Theron’s character from Atomic Blonde.

In the fashion of Marvel, the filmmakers are planning an assassin’s cinematic universe. This is what happens to movies now. Even an original movie like this - which nonetheless was derivative in every which way except in the protagonist’s drive being the death of his dog - that becomes accidentally successful gets blown up into an epic fantasy.

Before we have seen the last of John Wick, he would have fought alongside Ethan Hawke, Jason Bourne and James Bond. This is the surprising new secret Marvel has uncovered - stack in as many memorable characters as possible in one single movie, and audiences will show up at the theatre, because they like at least one of them.

The only single franchise that should be allowed to continue is Mission: Impossible. It has been getting more and more fascinating with every sequel. Action movies such as the John Wick franchise should substantially improve their plots, themes and character depth instead of drowning themselves in gratuitous violence. Rogue Nation made money that way, therefore, there’s no reason John Wick is not able to do that.

This would save Wick from the endless number of eye stabbings and neck breakings - not a very endearing character for a protagonist - he has to do every time a sequel is released.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 15,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 998]

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