John Wick is on the run for two reasons… he's being hunted for a global $14 million dollar open contract on his life, and for breaking a central rule: taking a life on Continental Hotel grounds. The victim was a member of the High Table who ordered the open contract. John should have already been executed, except the Continental's manager, Winston, has given him a one-hour grace period before he's "Excommunicado" – membership revoked, banned from all services and cut off from other members. John uses the service industry to stay alive as he fights and kills his way out of New York City.
John Wick 3's creativity in constructing action scene sets is exemplary in the genre. The film captivates the audience quickly with a frantic and brutal knife fight in a narrow corridor, and we are immediately loaded with anticipation of seeing where and how the next fights will unfold. This experience is not uncommon throughout John Wick 3. Action fans should watch this movie.
The titular character, however, is monotonous as can be. John Wick speaks in slow, robotic monosyllabic grunts and makes you think if he's just trying really hard to remember his lines. The attempts at humanizing him by mentioning his wife and his love for dogs once in a while feel like they're there just for the memes. The rest of the characters are caricatures. The German Shepherds that were crucial in a few-vs-many fight probably had the most impressive performance.
The lack of developed characters can be forgiven in action movies, but when a movie does infuse its characters with captivating personalities, it just makes the film that much better. Mad Max: Fury Road, another end-to-end action film without a loquacious protagonist, did it with Tom Hardy as Max so that we are wholly engaged in the sequences and their consequences (something John Wick should know a lot about). With John Wick 3, I watched the action scenes for the action, their outcomes and effects on its plot and characters were moot.
The hand-to-hand combat scenes in John Wick 3 are boring compared to The Raid series. It might be unfair to compare John Wick 3 to the the titans of martial arts films but they do share a number of the same fighting experts/actors. What weighs down these scenes, and as much as I like him, is Keanu. He just doesn't have the agility to be a believable apex fighter. It's frequently obvious when it would be John Wick's turn to get hit because he would pull his arms back and just wait for the choreography to progress. He seemed slow and awkward compared to his opponents, and because of it, a few fight scenes at the end felt too long. Also, it disheartened me to see Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian's character in The Raid: Redemption) fall to someone who's significantly less talented.
John Wick 3's gunplay is a different story. The series is renowned for doing its research on handling firearms to achieve realism. You can notice the attention to detail most saliently through the well-timed reloads, the perfect form with which John Wick uses guns, and the shotgun blasts that recoil and hit like shockwaves throughout the film's many brilliant shootouts.