What does it say about our collective rage over the death of a puppy(and all animal abuse in general) that the feeling of retribution has driven an entire franchise to box office success not once, twice, but three times? That is a deep dive for another time and another outlet, but all I have to say is: keep them coming.
We have followed John Wick as he has blazed a trail of blood and bullets through the criminal underground of the world. When we encounter him this time, mere weeks after the death of Daisy the Dog, he is excommunicated from the resources of hitman society and has a growing bounty on his head for the death of a High Table member. In an effort to clear his name, he seeks out his past connections to find a way to a future full of life and remembered love.
The growing body count of the franchise is punctuated mainly by fists and knives in this installment, which makes every impact more personal and harder to bear. We’ve become nearly numb to the effects of gun violence in film(another deep dive for another time and outlet I’m sure), but the slicing and stabbing draws more than a flinch each time knife meets flesh. The over-the-top choreographed violence has always been something which has drawn audiences to these movies, and they are served up in spades. The sheer amount of violence in this film takes precedence over story to some degree, and that is to the detriment of the fantastic world-building we have seen over the last two chapters.
What is not to the detriment of the franchise is how incredibly progressive this franchise continues to be. The addition of a trans character, played by a trans actor, in a film of this magnitude is a continuation of the efforts to break ground in representation in Hollywood film. Coupled with the addition of a number of female characters with agency and drive, John Wick is a prime example of how representation in film show work: by mirroring the world it’s based on.
One of the most fascinating additions to the franchise is the Adjudicator, played by Asia Kate Dillon. They enter the film as a force of punishment dispatched by the High Table, and each scene with them is a river of eerie calm in the otherwise frantic movie. The Adjudicator wields no weapon save for a cold demeanor and a word to the chosen tool of justice for the High Table, but their very presence causes even the cockiest of characters pause. I was left wanting more of this character, and I don’t doubt we will see them again in the anticpated next chapter.
Other additions to the franchise include Halle Berry, as Sofia, safe house manager with a past connected to John Wick; Anjelica Huston as The Director who assists in ferrying Wick along his journey and claims a favor from his childhood; and Mark Dacascos as Zero, a fan of Wick’s work and a fellow assassin obsessed with the idea of being the blade that claims the bounty on Wick’s head.
A late in the game betrayal ups the ante for the next installment and sends Wick, now wounded and little more than an exposed nerve from his battles, on a mission to end the High Table and those who serve it. Rest assured, we will be there to cheer him on.