‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ Blu-ray Review: Must-Own Action Flick with A+ Bonus Dog Content

     September 9, 2019

john-wick-3-keanu-reeves-halle-berry-sliceIf you somehow weren’t swept up in the Year of Keanu already, you simply will not have any other choice but to stan after getting your hands on a Blu-ray of John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum. Despite a rather dissappoting lack of deleted scenes or director’s commentary of any sort, the presentation is chock-full of featurettes that go surprisingly in-depth on how the hell director Chad Stahelski, Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, and an army of stunt performers (plus a few Good Dogs) got this crazy thing done.

Before we dive into the extras, here’s a quick rundown on the movie: Parabellum picks up immediately after the events of John Wick: Chapter 2, with Reeves’ title super-assassin being deemed “Excommunicado” from his global clan of killers and a bounty being placed on his shaggy head. The third entry in the series is, essentially, a one-versus-all action flick, with John using every object at his disposal to escape the High Table—and an army of ninjas, led up by Mark Dacascos‘ Zero—and clear his name: a hallway full of knives, an actual horse, a library book, some highly-trained attack dogs courtesy of former colleague Sofia (Berry). The movie, if you couldn’t tell, whips an unholy amount of ass, and looks gorgeous on Blu-ray and 4K; in addition to being one of the most high-intensity action franchises in recent memory, the John Wick movies are also some of the most uniquely framed and dazzlingly lit. Here, that otherworldly look is thanks in large part to cinematographer Dan Laustsen, a frequent collaborator with Guillermo del Toro on films like Shape of Water and Crimson Peak.

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Image via Lionsgate

If you already have the first two John Wick movies on your shelf, you’ll definitely want to grab this, and I’m almost kind of bummed—and this is a *huge spoiler* if you’re not caught up—that Parabellum ends on a cliffhanger, because I was already salivating at the thought of a trilogy box set. Like I said up top, the other major disappointment is the lack of a commentary, but that’s really only because Stahelski kind’ve gives off a vibe of truly not giving a fuck—in a good way!—whether it’s accidentally revealing Matrix 4 like 6 months too soon or discussing how passionate he is about action filmmaking, choreography, dogs, or working with Keanu Reeves.

But the featurettes are definitely worth the price of admission. I honestly came away from my first viewing of Parabellum a little down on the film compared to the first two, but diving into the lore and the behind-the-scenes footage actually boosted it in my eyes. Here’s a run-down of the extra features—which are included along with the film’s trailers and a backstage look at the John Wick Hex video game—in order of how fascinating I found them.

“Dog Fu”

If you came here for the dogs, you won’t leave disappointed. This is an in-depth look at how the stunt team put together Parabellum‘s highly-intricate action scene featuring Sofia’s attack dogs, which basically meant months and months of training. Shout-out to Halle Berry for just straight-up becoming this dog crew’s trainer over nine months, but the real MVP here is Jerome Flynn, who agreed to take on the shot of a dog mangling his character’s crotch by himself. A true hero.

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Image via Lionsgate

“Saddle Up, Wick” 

“Riding a horse was too easy for Keanu Reeves,” Stahelski notes here, “so we had him do trick riding.” This is a look into the film’s most how-did-they-do-that set piece, in which John rides a horse down a Brooklyn street, pursued by motorcycle-riding assassins. Keanu doing wirework on a moving animal? The massive rig they constructed to capture the action? The fact they had to cover an entire Brooklyn street in rubber mats, then CGI that street back in during post? Respect. 

“House of Transparency”

A look into how Stahelski and the stunt team—led up by coordinator Jonathan Eusebio—navigated the challenges presented by the massive glass building that plays home to Parabellum‘s final fight scenes. Basically, how do you hide ninjas in a clear house? If you’re fascinated by the process of stunt workers flying through glass, buckle up. So. Much. Glass smashing.

“Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits”

Learn how the stunt team pulled off Parabellum’s complex motorcycle chase across the Verrazano Bridge, which both Reeves and Stahelski note here is inspired by a chase from Jeong Byeong-Gil‘s Korean action film, The Villainess. Just a miracle of technical work, choreography, and CGI. (And a host of stuntmen just being absolutely pissed off they have to wear green jumpsuits.)

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Image via Lionsgate

“Check Your Sights” 

An overview of the hands-on gun training the entire cast has to go through, which, if you’ve seen any second of a John Wick movie, you know is a metric shit-ton. “The best way to fake being good is to just be good,” Stahelski says. Some really great stuff here from Halle Berry, who broke out in hives during her first training session just from the thought of using a gun and eventually morphed into the genuine badass you see on-screen, thanks in large part to stunt maestro Heidi Moneymaker (Avengers: Endgame). 

“Shot By Shot” 

A captivating glimpse into the editing process with Stahelski and editor Evan Schiff, highlighted by some side-by-side comparisons of final fight scene footage compared to footage with missing frames.

“Continental in the Desert”

A look at the film’s production in Morocco, where John seeks refuge from a Continental in the middle of the desert. This is mostly a showcase for the film’s gorgeous production design, and a chance to hear Keanu Reeves say the sentence: “I had this vision of John Wick walking in the desert. I don’t know where it came from, but I loved it.”

“Parabellum: Legacy of the High Table” and “Excommunicado”

These are more your standard, boilerplate featurettes explaining how the creative team behind a sequel wanted to go “bigger” for a sequel. Here, that means diving into the roles of the High Table and the Adjudicator, as well as what the plot means for John Wick as a character with an actual backstory. There’s not much to it, but the featurettes are still peppered with some delightful behind-the-scenes looks at filming.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is available in 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, and DVD on September 10. 

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