The man, the myth, the legend John Wick has returned in Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Ahead of its official release, critics have unleashed their reviews and by the sounds of it, Chapter 3 is another bloody thrilling rampage packed with a tonne of “A fucking pencil!” moments.

‘Parabellum’ refers to the Latin phrase, ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’, which means ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’. Considering we’ve only copped the tail end of the phrase here, expect a lot of brutal deaths.

Again directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 3 picks up right where Chapter 2 dropped off. Keanu Reeves returns as the sharply-dressed super-assassin who has been excommunicated from the international assassin’s guild – the High Table – after he… uh… did something in the second movie. As a result, Wick cops a $14 million bounty on his head and the entire guild is out to get him.

At the time of writing, John Wick: Chapter 3 has a cool 97 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based off of 39 critic reviews.

Entertainment Weekly graded the film A- and described it as “high art”.

The third film in this unlikely sleeper franchise is, hands down, the most giddily brutal and bananas film in the series to date. So much so, that I completely gave up on keeping a running tab of the film’s bodycount after the first 10 minutes and just settled in for all of the giddy carnage.

I don’t mean to give the impression that John Wick 3 is anything grander than a gorgeously choreographed, gratuitously violent action movie. But as gorgeously choreographed, gratuitously violent action movies go, it’s high art.

Goddamn. 

The Hollywood Reporter‘s bottom line: “More thrilling ass-kickery than even dedicated fans could expect.”

Uproxx frothed it:

Like John Wick himself, this third chapter feels like a lean, mean, fighting machine – and, yes, it’s the best film of the franchise so far, even surpassing the first film. There are moments in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum where I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve never seen that before.”

According to Polygonthe movie followed the same Wick formula but it was still a ride and a half with a couple of improvements.

Throw a horse chase, a Villainess-esque motorcycle-katana fight, and a healthy dose of electro-Vivaldi into the mix, and it’s just enough to keep the Wick formula working — and keep an audience wanting more.

Of Stahelski’s work, Variety wrote:

It’s important to stress just how well-made this film is. Since making his debut on the first “John Wick,” Stahelski’s technical ambition and ability has grown substantially each time out, and it’s hard to think of too many filmmakers outside of Asia who are willing to invest the sort of care and detail-work into combat scenes that Stahelski provides over and over again.

But at two hours and 11 minutes and with all the guns and guns and guns, Variety thought the film was “deadening”. 

Watching two-plus hours of mayhem without any palpable dramatic stakes, or nuance, or any emotion at all save bloodlust offers undeniably diminishing returns. There are only so many times you can see a bullet pass through a skull before it gets deadening, and then almost dull.

Similarly, Indiewire gave the film a grade of B.

But while Stahelski and his team have obviously put a great deal of thought into every frame of fisticuffs, “Parabellum” is so relentless that it often devolves into a numbing flurry of shoulder flips and headshots.

Although, Indiewire are absolutely sure fans will love it and demand more and more.

“With the significant exception of “Mission: Impossible,” this is easily the best action franchise Hollywood has going these days, and it would be great for it to keep going with renewed focus,” they wrote.

AV Club felt the same way.

Though Parabellum delivers at least a couple of action scenes that rank with the best of the series there’s a certain fatigue to its two biggest set pieces, both of which pit Wick and his allies against unending waves of faceless henchmen. Wick is unstoppable. Do the movies know where to stop?

Lastly, IGN gave the film a rating of 8.5. Part of their verdict reads:

Chock full of inventive set-pieces and brutal kills, while also providing new facets to the intricate underworld lore fans of the franchise have come to enjoy, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum pushes its title character to his breaking point and back while offering fresh information about his backstory.

John Wick: Chapter 3 will hit Aussie cinemas Thursday, 16 May. AKA NEXT WEEK.

Image: John Wick 3