Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

Soundtrack Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

The soundtrack for John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum, is now available for purchase from Varèse Sarabande. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, skilled 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. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn. The score for this film was once again composed by Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Atomic Blonde), who to date has worked on every film in the John Wick series.

Regarding John Wick: Chapter 3, Bates had this to say:

“While his fight, stunt, and weapon work is second to none, Chad [Stahelski] embraces original music with equal passion – setting the table for Joel Richard and I to experiment and create a distinct “sound” for the John Wick world. Five years ago, we cranked “Killing Strangers” at concert volume in my studio. And now John Wick is a trilogy. Working with Chad has been a truly amazing experience.”

Having now seen all three John Wick films, I have to agree that the music for these films are very distinct indeed. One thing I like about John Wick: Chapter 3 and the series overall is that the music sounds the same across all three installments. As soon as you hear the first beat of music, you know you’ve come back to the world of assassins and John Wick. I’ve never quite been able to define the nature of the music in firm words, but the words that come to mind the most often are “techno-futuristic.” The music Bates creates weaves into the background and fight scenes almost seamlessly, creating this edgy, near-futuristic world that’s inhabited by Wick and a seemingly endless legion of assassins.

There’s some nice twists in this score also. “The Adjudicator” has an almost militaristic sound (fitting given the role she plays in the film) while “Elder Tent Offering,” quite ironically given what happens in that scene, has some of the most lyrical music in the score. But I think one of my favorites is “Winter at the Continental,” which is essentially a techno-remix of Vivaldi’s “Winter.” I remember hearing “Winter” played straight before the fight began, but I either didn’t realize or didn’t remember that there was also this fast-paced remix, which is really fun to listen to, since Bates takes Vivaldi and “modernizes” it for Wick’s world.

I really like the music Bates has created for John Wick: Chapter 3. It’s edgy, it’s fast-paced, but it also slows down when necessary, and it fits the film’s world perfectly. I love how Bates can insert slow moments out of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about them since most of the film is devoted to fights, but the slow moments are just as beautiful.

Let me know what you think about the music for John Wick: Chapter 3 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

*warning: I don’t think I let any spoilers slip but it’s possible I did without realizing it

Two years.

We’ve been waiting two years to find out how the story of John Wick continues after he was sent running for his life with a one hour head start. After two years of waiting, our patience was finally rewarded with John Wick: Chapter 3 and my god did it ever deliver.

The story picks up immediately after the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2 and follows John Wick fighting to stay alive with every assassin in New York City and the world after the bounty on his head. The fight sequences are deliciously brutal, and the tension rarely lets up once the story gets going. It might be my imagination, but it feels like the fights are getting more brutal with every installment. Also, that scene with the horse is absolutely perfect.

Halle Berry as Sofia is a great addition to the John Wick universe, my only gripe is that I wanted more of her in the story. She’s clearly a complex character with a complex past (much like Wick) and I would love to learn more about her in future installments. Also, her dogs are just as awesome as you think they are.

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One of the things I like best about John Wick: Chapter 3 is that we learn more about the complex structure of rules that governs this group of assassins that Wick belongs to. More of the hierarchy is revealed, and it turns out that some characters that appeared to be all powerful also answer to a higher authority (which in itself was a bit of a shock for me). I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a prequel that explains how this group was established in the first place. There must be a story behind how an organization was formed with this much power all over the world and I would love to see it.

Keanu Reeves is on point once again as John Wick. You wouldn’t think there’d been two years since the second film and five years since the original film, just by watching him. There’s a great range of emotion in his performance, especially towards the end of the film. And speaking of the end…I honestly did not see that ending coming. It took everything I thought I knew about the situation and turned it upside down. That being said, I loved the ending because it practically confirms that John Wick: Chapter 4 will be happening. With all of the hype surrounding this film, it makes perfect sense that they would want the story to continue.

I really enjoyed John Wick: Chapter 3, and I’m excited for the fourth installment that is bound to follow, but I do hope the next installment ends it. I only say that because, while the story was good, some of the fight scenes felt a little long, and I’d rather not see the story become ruined with too many sequels. But for now, I’ll revel in the perfection that is John Wick: Chapter 3. Definitely check it out when you get the chance.

What did you think of John Wick: Chapter 3? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

Thoughts on: John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

Thoughts on: John Wick (2014)

Film Reviews

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Thoughts on: John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Unless we’re talking about Star Wars, it is very rare for a sequel to surpass the original, but I think John Wick Chapter 2 qualifies. Picking up four days after the conclusion of the first movie, Chapter 2 takes us through the continuing trials of would-like-to-remain-retired hitman John Wick. His vengeance completed, John is perfectly content to return to retired life with his new dog. However…fate seems to be out to get him as he is dropped in on by Santino D’Antonio, an Italian gangster to whom John owes a huge favor. See, it so happens that Santino provided some invaluable services John in the past. And as a result, John gave Santino what is known as a “marker.”

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Basically, if you grant someone a marker, you’re saying that at some time in the future you are binding yourself to do whatever task that person asks of you, no exceptions. And no getting out of it either: even though John begs Santino to not call the marker in, the Italian persists. This is the other inviolable rule of the underworld: all markers MUST be honored. If you refuse, you die. If you attempt to run, you die and if you kill the person holding the marker, you most definitely die.

So what does Santino want done so badly? Oh nothing much, he just wants his sister murdered so he can take her place at “The High Table” (the gathering of all the criminal heads of the underworld). I really loved this entire sequence set in Rome. The whole set up of John checking into the city’s Continental hotel and then acquiring everything he needs for the hit and talking about it in the most civilized terms.

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For example, John asks the hotel clerk if he can see the sommelier (which ordinarily refers to a wine specialist). But in the Continental, the “sommelier” is an expert on all kinds of weapons. So, John and the sommelier discuss what guns (and other weapons) he will need in the exact same terms one talks about fine wines (appetizer, main course, dessert, etc.). He also visits a tailor (for a bulletproof suit that would be the envy of James Bond) and other establishments, always paying in those same gold coins from the previous film. It’s a fascinating sequence because it reveals this whole world that’s hiding in plain sight (and as I said before, I love those kinds of stories).

Once John escapes the hit squad sent after him, Santino has a hit put out on John, a $7 million hit to be precise. And here is the most fascinating sequence of all: we get to see HOW this is accomplished. If someone wants a hit put out, they call “Accounts Receivable” where all these ladies are working old-fashioned switchboards and typewriters and there are files on everyone in the underworld. So once they give a code to verify who they are, they name the target, how much the hit is worth, is it international, open or closed and when does it take effect. And once all of this is filled out, there’s a sequence where we see a computer auto-dialing all of these numbers with the relevant information.

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And what’s even more mind-blowing? The revelation that there are assassins EVERYWHERE, in all kinds of professions. Since very few people could resist a $7 million bounty (and the chance to take out John Wick), the hit man has a big problem on his hands as just about everyone he encounters is out to get him. This leads to another montage of John fighting assassin after assassin. Thoroughly frustrated, John makes his way to the “Bowery King”, another underworld figure with a huge organization. John convinces the Bowery King to help him get to Santino when he reminds him that if Santino comes to power he intends to take over New York City completely, there won’t be any room for the Bowery King or anyone else.

The last part of the film is where things get a little crazy: after pursuing Santino through an art exhibit, he corners the gangster in the Continental where, it turns out, Santino is planning to live permanently. Winston attempts to talk him down from doing anything stupid but at this point, John doesn’t care about the consequences, so before anyone can stop him….BANG! Santino is dead. Inside the Continental. John has broken the number one rule of the underworld: you NEVER conduct business inside the Continental.

By rights John should be executed (and I think he knows it) but Winston can’t quite bring himself to give the order. So, he has John meet him in a park and lets him know the following:

  1. The bounty on his head will be doubled (that’s $14 million)
  2. It is now an international hit (anyone in the world can come after him)
  3. He is excommunicado meaning he has lost all rights and privileges to all services in the Underworld. No more Continental, secret shops, NOTHING.

However, to give John a fighting chance, Winston also adds that the new hit won’t go active for an hour. And then comes a scene that chilled me to the bone: when John asks Winston why he isn’t already dead, Winston signals to one of his guards who says “Now” into a phone. At that moment, everyone around the fountain in the park stops and looks at John, revealing (I think) that he’s been surrounded by assassins this entire time. As the hour starts, John walks away with his dog while we hear Winston placing the order with Accounts Receivable. As John continues to move through the park, phones begin to ring around him. But as we don’t see the messages being received, there’s no way for us (the audience) to know if these are assassins receiving the information or simply regular people going about their lives. John doesn’t know either, and in his paranoia, he takes off running. And that’s where the story ends!!

Of course, since a third film has already been announced, it’s obvious that John will get away in the short term (not to mention he’s promised to kill anyone who comes after him), but so many questions remain. For one, where will all of this end? Part of me suspects that this is going to end with John dead and therefore finally reuniting with his wife. But there’s something else in play: Winston gave John a marker in the park. Does this mean Winston owes John a favor now? There are so many questions, but we won’t get any answers until 2019.

And there’s my thoughts on John Wick: Chapter 2. It’s such a great film, I really wish I’d gone to see it in theaters (I definitely won’t miss the third installment).

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Thoughts on: John Wick (2014)

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Thoughts on: John Wick (2014)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Well everyone, I have to say you were right. John Wick IS an awesome film and one that I should have seen long before now. It’s not that I didn’t want to see John Wick (or the sequel, which I also watched over the weekend), it’s just that I was buried so deep in paper writing and research three years ago that I simply didn’t have time to go watch much of anything. So, when Black Friday rolled around and the two John Wick films were on sale, I decided to take the plunge and buy them both (having been assured by many people that it was absolutely worth it).

And the very first impression from this film? (This will surprise nobody): That poor puppy!!

Even though I knew going in that this part was coming, I still almost couldn’t go through with it when John received the puppy as a final gift from his recently deceased wife. I absolutely adore animals, and every time that puppy looked up at John, my heart just melted (to the point where I had to hold my own pet close just to get through what came next). Mercifully, the final scene with the puppy was kept short or I’m not sure I could’ve kept going. But I’m getting ahead of myself: for those who may not know, the film starts with a battered John falling out of a shot-up car by a waterfront before jumping back a few days to the day of his wife’s funeral. In a series of flashbacks, we see John reminiscing over anniversary celebrations, dates, ending with his beloved collapsing on a boardwalk and ultimately dying in the hospital (I suspect an aggressive cancer, but no cause is given as of yet).

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The puppy is delivered that evening and a card (from his wife) explains that this is to help him learn to love again and not to be alone. John is adjusting to this new life with Daisy (named after his wife’s favorite flower) when he encounters some Russian gangsters at a gas station. One, Iosef (Alfie Allen, aka Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) admires John’s car very much and asks how much he will sell it for. John insists it is not for sale and heads home. But that night…Iosef and his friends break into John’s house, assault him and, out of pure spite, kill the puppy. From this point on, the story is a pretty violent roller coaster ride because…it turns out that Iosef has unwittingly pissed off one John Wick, formerly the greatest assassin the criminal underworld had ever seen and (a rather important detail) a former employee of Iosef’s father. Just over five years ago, we learn, John informed his employer that he wished to “get out” of the business as he’d fallen in love. Victor (his employer) informed him that if he wished to leave he would need to complete an impossible task (I believe it was killing all of Victor’s enemies in a single night). That being done, John retired and was left in peace, until now.

This is actually one of my favorite story tropes: dumb criminal pisses off the legendary assassin/fighter/etc. and it’s just a matter of time until he pays with his life. In John’s quest for vengeance, we get introduced to the remarkably civilized underworld, where assassins and other types use strange gold coins as currency, cleaning up the bodies is referred to as “dinner reservations” and there are exclusive hotels for assassins. Indeed, the Continental Hotel in New York City caters to everyone in the Underworld (provided you’re in good standing) but there is one cardinal rule that everyone must follow: no “business” may be conducted on hotel property. That means, even if your target is standing right in front of you in the lobby, you can’t kill them (if you do or if you try anyway, there are severe consequences). I liked this part because it is always interesting to imagine that a secret world exists in plain sight like the one depicted in the film. Access is dependent on the gold coins, no coins, no admittance.

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Knowing that John will be coming for his son, Victor puts a $2 million dollar hit out on his former employee. He also specifically goes to Marcus, John’s former mentor and personally asks him to take John out. Marcus says it will be done, but he’s lying. Instead of killing John (which he has several opportunities to do), Marcus is seen watching over John, preventing others from taking him out. This includes stopping a fellow assassin, Ms. Perkins, from killing John inside the hotel (Victor offered double the bounty to anyone willing to break the rules). It takes some time, but Ms. Perkins ultimately pays for this violation (she also killed another assassin inside the hotel after John stopped her) with her life after Winston, the hotel’s owner, revokes her membership.

After destroying a lot of Victor’s assets, John finally convinces him to reveal where his son is hiding out, with the understanding that this will stop all further acts of vengeance. But while John goes to kill Iosef (successfully I might add), Victor corners Marcus for not killing John when he had the chance and after torturing him extensively, shoots him dead in his own home. This prompts John to turn around (literally) and head off for one last showdown. By the time Victor is disposed of, we’ve caught back up to where the story began, with John beat up on the waterfront. He patches himself up in a vet’s clinic, but before he leaves, he saves a puppy that was scheduled to be put down and takes him home (which made my heart melt again).

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By the time the credits rolled, I was deeply in love with this movie, not to mention grateful that I’d thought to buy the sequel as well. One of the things I loved in the story is that every time John Wick is mentioned as being part of the scenario, all anyone can think to say in response is “Oh.” Like, just hearing Wick’s name explains everything about the situation (this carries over into the sequel as well). I also liked how the action was almost non-stop once that part of the story got rolling, there are very few moments where you are allowed to catch your breath once the violence starts.

In conclusion: John Wick is an awesome film (with an awesome sequel) and I eagerly await the final installment (due in 2019) that I will definitely be seeing in theaters. Tomorrow I will publish my thoughts on John Wick: Chapter 2. Until then!

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See also:

Thoughts on: John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

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