Mr. Movie

Mr. Movie: Third in ‘John Wick’ series brims with creative carnage; ‘The Sun is Also a Star” doesn’t shine

John Wick trailer

In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail.
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In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail.

‘John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum’

The Parabellum in the “John Wick: Chapter 3” title is Latin. The translation is “prepare for war.” In this case, the war is The High Table verses John Wick.

In case you can’t remember what happened in the last two John Wick flicks, I accessed Johnwikapedia and did the research for you. Wick is the world’s most dangerous and highest-rated assassin. He gets on the wrong side of The High Table. It is a loosely knit but powerful group of crime bosses that have rules for assassins like Wick.

The faux pax has to do with The Continental in New York City. It is one of the many same-titled safe havens for assassins that do business with this crime syndicate service. The most important rule of all is that you don’t kill anyone within the confines of the Continentals of the world.

In the second film Wick violated that rule and killed a bad guy in New York’s Continental. “Parabellum” starts with a contract put out on Wick’s life and he’s in a desperate struggle to stay above ground. The point in staying alive — other than to keep breathing — is to give meaning to his deceased wife’s life.

The scramble to dodge death takes him to former colleagues and enemies. And while he’s on the run, a representative of The High Table pops into town to push around those that helped Wick escape after the hit was ordered. She’s a pushy, rule-bound type and wants Wick’s helpers either gone voluntarily or killed.

Actually, everybody you meet in the third John Wick film wants to kill somebody or avoid being killed by those wanting to kill somebody. That leads to knife fights, gun fights and knife fights with guns added and gun fights with knives on the side.

That leads to my cutting remarks. Keanu Reeves reprises the title role and the third time is not necessarily the charm. It’s also not necessarily bad a thing. There is just a little too much in a premise that — from the beginning — has bathed itself in overkill.

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Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick' in "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum." Niko Tavernise TNS

There are too many fights, period. Fights take precedent over plot. There were over 120 kills in the second film and I lost count in this one when the body count hit 50. Take half of the kills away and you have a nice 90-minute movie.

Maybe nice is wrong word. There’s nothing nice in all that creative carnage. And this series is — as Wick fans will attest — quite creative.

Credit that to stuntman and stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski who directs again. He also does most of Reeves’ fight scenes and stunts. As I look at it, he’s in the movie more than Reeves. Maybe Stahelski should have given himself a starring role credit and listed Reeves as a co-star.

The screenplays for the first two films were written by Derek Kolstad. He’s listed here but with help from three others. Maybe it’s the three others that help pad the film’s length. And this one — with very few scenes that aren’t drawn out battles — runs 2:10. The original went 1:40. The extra half-hour is too much.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Halle Berry in a scene from "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum." Mark Rodgers Associated Press

Criticism aside, I loved it. Call it guilty pleasure. Or maybe it’s fanboy stuff for Reeves. There never has been much depth to his monosyllabic style of delivery. Substance? Yes. But depth? No. Yet, Reeves has that x-factor that makes him a very good actor. Or maybe he just picks very good projects.

Could be a little of both. However you see it, if this is your thing, enjoy. Oh, and plan on a fourth chapter of the John Wicks saga. “Parabellum” leaves no doubt there will be least one more.

▪ Rated R for violence, gore, mature themes and language. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, the AMC Classic Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

▪ Rating: 4 out of 5

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Charles Melton, left, and Yara Shahidi appear in a scene from the film “The Sun Is Also a Star.” Atsushi Nishijima Associated Press

‘The Sun is Also a Star’

Yes, the sun is a star. We all know that. There have been many good movies with the sun as part of the title. Some of them have been very good movies.

This one is not.

“The Sun is Also a Star” features a young woman who is in awe of the sun, the solar system and the universe. She gives us — and the film’s love interest — a lot of quotes from astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist and author Carl Sagan and makes lots of references to many different aspects of space.

Some of those bits are interesting.

What’s problematic is that those tidbits are much more interesting than the feeble love story that accompanies them. She’s Natasha. Jamaican born, she and her family are considered here illegally and will be deported the next day.

The guy at the center of this film’s universe is Daniel. He’s Korean and is expected to become a doctor. It’s the dream of his immigrant parents and not his. He has little interest in anything medical and wants to be a poet. He can’t because you just don’t disappoint movie parents, do you?

They meet in a way that can only be described as fate. He sees it as being in the stars. She sees it as him being overly schmaltzy. By the way, I’m with her on that one and think the whole premise is cheesy. But it’s not aimed at me. This is a movie that will only be loved by those in love with love and drippy love stories.

He’s convinced that love will win and that a lawyer involved in how they met will come to the rescue and save the day. Her family gets to stay and they will be in love forever. She eventually buys it.

You won’t.

Remember, I sacrifice my time and see movies like this so you don’t have to see them. This one is awful with a capital A. However, there are two positives. The first is Yara Shahidi who plays Natasha and Charles Melton who does Daniel. They have excellent chemistry.

Unfortunately, chemistry may work in Carl Sagan’s book but it doesn’t help here.

The second positive is a terrific soundtrack. However, I would have liked it a lot better in a different movie.

▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12, at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

▪ Rating: 1 out of 5