When he’s not crunching skulls, Keanu Reeves rides tall in the saddle in “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.” (Lionsgate)

When he’s not crunching skulls, Keanu Reeves rides tall in the saddle in “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.” (Lionsgate)

Keanu Reeves wisely still letting his fists do the talking

The words-challenged star and a lively supporting cast make mayhem galore in “John Wick: Chapter 3.”

In the new “John Wick” movie there’s this particular way Keanu Reeves whisks shells into the chamber of his shotgun that’s like physical Shakespeare, or some kind of crazy gun-toting ballet.

This sort of thing basically takes up the entirety of “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” which is good, because you don’t want to focus too much on plot or dialogue. The film’s 130 minutes are a compendium of guns (“lots of guns”), knives, axes, swords and a couple of determined dogs, only occasionally interrupted by people talking.

This works out well for Keanu Reeves. An actor of limited means when it comes to speaking words, he’s honed his physical skills over the years so that his frequent hand-to-hand fisticuffs (and even the way he lurches exhaustedly down the sidewalk while chased by relentless pursuers) speaks much more vividly than his blessedly sparse dialogue.

We pick up from the end of the previous “John Wick” picture, and find the title assassin with a price on his head — $14 million, to be precise. He’s a talented killing machine, but almost everybody wants in on the bounty.

You will recall that the John Wick universe contains a secret society of collegial, rule-honoring assassins. Banned from the New York hotel where members can gather in peace, where even the manager (Ian McShane) can no longer help him, Mr. Wick must turn elsewhere.

This includes seeking out a witchy former mentor (Anjelica Huston, getting into the spirit of things), a colleague in Casablanca (a high-kicking Halle Berry) who owes Wick a favor, and some kind of sheik (Said Taghmaoui) in North Africa.

All are part of the secret system. The movie also brings back Laurence Fishburne, to summon up some old “Matrix” energy with his former co-star, and brings in Asia Kate Dillon (from “Billions”) as a weirdly affectless company enforcer.

The best new addition is Mark Dacascos, as an opponent whose skills make a worthy match to the nearly indestructible Wick. Their climactic battle takes place in a hall of very breakable glass cases. It’s a gas.

We learn more about John Wick’s background, and about the odd amulets and meaningful gold coins used by the society. I have to say that the more we learn, the less cool the secret world becomes; it’s more tantalizing when you only hazily understand it.

Director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen create a vividly colorful world, which makes “John Wick: Chapter 3” more fun to look at than all the gritty action flicks that favor a boring blue-monochrome look.

The stunts, of course, are flabbergasting, and the violence unrelenting. I’ve always liked the fact that Reeves doesn’t look like he pumps a lot of iron to get into the role; it makes John Wick’s skill-set all the more otherworldly.

So, a pretty enjoyable outing if you like this kind of head-crunching insanity. But at this point, the possibility of another chapter (and it comes across as more of a guarantee than a possibility) feels less promising than before. “John Wick” is already repeating itself by the time we’re halfway through this one, and Keanu Reeves isn’t getting any younger.

“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” (3 stars)

This head-crunching action picture picks up where the last one left off, as professional assassin Wick (Keanu Reeves) tries to avoid a bounty on his head. The film shoots violence like ballet, and the blessedly monosyllabic Reeves is joined by a lively crew: Mark Dacascos, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston.

Rating: R, for violence

Opening Friday: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Seattle 1o, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Whidbey duo uses fencing to teach self-discipline, sportsmanship to youth

Bob Tearse and Joseph Kleinman are sharing their sword-fighting expertise with young people on south Whidbey Island.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

A giant Bigfoot creation made by Terry Carrigan, 60, at his home-based Skywater Studios on Sunday, April 14, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
The 1,500-pound Sasquatch: Bigfoot comes to life in woods near Monroe

A possibly larger-than-life sculpture, created by Terry Carrigan of Skywater Studios, will be featured at this weekend’s “Oddmall” expo.

Craig Chambers takes orders while working behind the bar at Obsidian Beer Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Obsidian Beer Hall takes over former Toggle’s space in downtown Everett

Beyond beer, the Black-owned taphouse boasts a chill vibe with plush sofas, art on the walls and hip-hop on the speakers.

Glimpse the ancient past in northeast England

Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across the isle. It’s still one of England’s most thought-provoking sights.

I accidentally paid twice for my hotel. Can I get a refund?

Why did Valeska Wehr pay twice for her stay at a Marriott property in Boston? And why won’t Booking.com help her?

How do you want your kids to remember you when they grow up?

Childhood flies by, especially for parents. So how should we approach this limited time while our kids are still kids?

The Ford Maverick has seating for five passengers. Its cargo bed is 4.5 feet long. (Photo provided by Ford)
2024 Ford Maverick compact pickup undergoes a switch

The previous standard engine is now optional. The previous optional engine is now standard.

Dalton Dover performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Red Hot Chili Pipers come to Edmonds, and country artist Dalton Dover performs Friday as part of the Everett Stampede.

wisteria flower in Japan
Give your garden a whole new dimension with climbing plants

From clematis and jasmine to wisteria and honeysuckle, let any of these vine varieties creep into your heart – and garden.

Great Plant Pick: Dark Beauty Epimedium

What: New foliage on epimedium grandiflorum Dark Beauty, also known as Fairy… Continue reading

While not an Alberto, Diego or Bruno, this table is in a ‘Giacometti style’

Works by the Giacometti brothers are both valuable and influential. Other artists’ work is often said to be in their style.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.