‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ Trailer Breakdown: The Impossible Dream

The last time we saw Mr. Wick, he was running hellbent for leather through Central Park with hundreds of his fellow assassins receiving texts regarding his new status as “excommunicado.” The badass hitman severed from the protection of The Continental and will no longer have the deadly amenities afforded his pursuers. That’s ok. All Keanu Reeves needs is a pencil to do his necessary dirty work, right?

John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum sees our hero resisting exile and popping caps into the domes of those foolish enough to come calling for that $14 million bounty. Director Chad Stahelski returns with the challenge of topping the extreme action violence of the first two films, but we’re feeling pretty confident that he’s up to that gnarly task. Circling Reeves are the usual suspects of Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne. Joining the franchise for the first time are Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas, Angelica Huston, and Mark Dacascos. Consider the ante upped.

Is your pulse pounding? My pulse is pounding. Oof. That’s pretty much everything we wanted to see from a first glimpse of Keanu carnage. My initial impression is that I adore the moody tone at the start of the trailer and how it builds to the catastrophic climax of gunfire and fangs. Let’s dig into this thing shot for shot, bullet for bullet.

From the jump, the John Wick: Chapter 3 trailer looks to lull its audience into a sense of doom and gloom. Over the logo, we hear cracks of thunder, and we see miserable rain descending downward to match the mental strife plaguing our fleeing hero. The pressure is on, and it will not let up, but as the saying goes, “The Baba Yaga will sleep when he’s dead.”

Echoing from the heavens we hear Winston’s (McShane) woeful sigh from the previous film, “Jonathan, what have you done?” New York City is awash in purple neon indicating that action hero royalty has hit its streets. Another crack of lightning and we cut to –

John Wick and his doggie pal rushing through Times Square. Andy Williams’ “The Impossible Dream” begins its ripple through the trailer, “To Dream the impossible dream/To fight the unbeatable foe/To bear with unbearable sorrow/To run where the brave dare not go.” Has an anthem ever been more appropriate for a character?

We hear the first tick of a clock striking diminishing seconds. As the camera swoops around John Wick and he decides which Broadway show to ignore, we hear the first words of the mysterious Director (Angelica Huston), “There is no escape for you. The high table wants your life.”

Wick holds a crucifix towards The Director. This does not appear to be your usual run of the mill religious icon, but a Continental symbol requesting more than hospitality. Wick is desperate for sanctuary, but as Winston warned, he will find none.

The Director asks bluntly, “Tell me what you want?” John Wick humbly requests, “Passage.” She turns her hand to the sky, “I can’t help you.” Wick better get used to the loneliness and reconnect with that inner strength that made him a cold killer in the first place.

Wick charges up the steps of the New York City Public Library to retrieve (or stash) a few personal effects. We see some Continental gold pieces that won’t do him much good, the “Marker” that brought him all the trouble in Chapter 2, the Crucifix, and a most prized photograph connecting him to the long gone happier days of his marriage. It is nice to see that three films into the franchise, the core ache of the character is still present and motivating his actions.

As Winston and Charon (Reddick) discus Wick’s chances of escaping New York City alive, we catch our first glimpse of the knife-wielding maniac Zero (Dacascos). He’s got a mean stare and not a care for the sorrowful drive of his opponent. Fourteen million dollars is fourteen million dollars. Stab, stab, stab.

Here is said bounty that has every killer in the world gunning for John Wick’s head. The red stamp “Sanxit Indorsata” translates from Latin as “Sanctioned Endorsed.” Wick can cry to The Director or Winston or whomever he chooses, the bullet racing to his skull is legit. Not sure how he’s going to survive to a fourth film as long as his murder is on the up and up within the community. He needs to get this bond expunged.

Hey – is that our pal Bronn from Game of Thrones? Yes, yes it is. Jerome Flynn appears to be one of those ne’er-do-wells anxious for a piece of John Wick. I appreciate how he has an army of goons behind him spilling forth from a castle keep carrying torches. Gotta stay in King’s Landing character.

I would like a whole film centered specifically around the ladies of the Continental Switchboard. They’re tracking the whereabouts and dollar figures of hundreds of bounties, but of course, they’re all counting down the seconds when Wick’s status of “excommunicado” goes live. The ticking clock effect ramps up as Wick receives a few last minute repairs to his body.  3, 2, 1…

The big hand strikes midnight. Winston marks the time on his phone, “And away we go.”

BOOM. The war is on. John Wick tears through a series of kevlar-clad killers. Keanu Reeves has not lost a step in his tactical training. He rips through the first batch with an assault rifle and when the cartridge empties he chucks it at the nearest opponent. He then uses another chump as a shield and continues to blast his way to freedom with his trusty pistol. From this moment the trailer doesn’t let up, and we can expect the same effect from the movie itself.

Here is my personal favorite shot from the entire trailer. Wick speeding out of town with a batch of wannabe Crazy 88s in hot pursuit. Who needs firearms when samurai swords are available. Fools. Wick will turn those blades against you quicker than you can blink. Wick is a regular Veg-O-Matic; he slices, he dices, and he makes a mean batch of julienne fries in just seconds.

The Bowery King (Fishburne) back home in rainy New York City. Will he be on the side of angels for Chapter 3, or will he continue his policy of neutrality as persona non grata? I feel like if anyone is willing to back Wick, it would be this distrusting individual, but maybe he needs to make a buck, too?

As her name might suggest, The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) is called in to weigh over the legalities of John Wick’s new status. Although, I doubt she rules without throwing down in some fashion. Maybe not as vicious a threat as Zero, but Wick better watch his back around her.

Chad Stahelski sets the stage for one of his savage, reflective set-pieces. Wick wanders into a hallway of Crystal Skulls with his gun locked and loaded. Is this a critique of the last Indiana Jones film? I’d like to think so. All skulls prepare to get smashed.

Wick spots Zero behind the glass, unloads his ammunition in his direction but to no avail. Zero has some sort of trigger in his hand. Whatever it activates causes Wick some concern as he turns around in disbelief. Sadly, we don’t get to see the subject of his worry as we cut to more ass-kicking mayhem.

The samurai motorcycle chase continues to a point where Wick must straddle a horse into battle. We’ve all seen these behind-the-scenes photographs snapped on set, and thankfully the ultimate cinematic expression of the sequence is glorious. Absurd? You’re damn right. I’m looking forward to adding this to our Best (Dome)Shots of 2019 list.

Wick is determined to see the world a la Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. If you’re going to escape the long reach of The Continental, the Sahara Desert is as good as any place to vanish within. It might also house the location of another long lost assassin.

We meet Sophia and her two German Shepherd companions. Is this another Continental location, or a separate organization altogether. Wick makes a case for a less explosive confrontation, “We’re not going in like the old days. Just a conversation.” Her response is obvious, and it is everything the audience wants to hear, “Nothing is ever just a conversation with you John.”

To put a button on that statement, we cut to Wick stepping out of a Continental vault strapped to the nines. Andy Williams belts out the final tune of “The Impossible Dream.” It’s worth noting that Charon is back to help his good friend get armed.

The trailer concludes with Sophie and Wick blasting through a variety of henchmen. Her two German Shepherds joining the battle as brutal attack dogs. I love seeing these puppies in action, but I fear for their lives. This is a John Wick film after all, and pooches don’t have the best survival track record here. Or maybe, this is the canine revenge we’ve all been waiting for since the first film? Sic ’em.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum hits theaters on May 17th.

Brad Gullickson: @@MouthDork Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.