John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum 4K Blu-ray Review

"If you want peace, prepare for war."

by Casimir Harlow
SRP: £19.99

John Wick 3 Film Review

Keanu Reeves returns to what will hopefully now be his defining role, delivering an inventive, expansive, ballistic ballet of death in this epic third entry in the action franchise.

Sure, the series has never been as lean and efficient as its opening chapter, finding difficulty giving organic motivations for the many machinations. Its entire second movie plot would not have happened had he just pulled the trigger on the villain when the house was blown up, and the third movie is little different in this respect, with McShane's Winston now a key player whose quasi-rebellious arc across the franchise makes zero sense.

Clearly there's some impetus - given the perhaps unexpected success of the relatively low budget first entry - to widely expand beyond the initial parameters it defined, and there's plenty of enjoyment to be found in the nuances of this colourful underground universe of cabals of assassins who exchange gold coins for currency, have blood debts to one another and co-exist under a surprisingly unforgiving code. But with every successive instalment there appears a desire to keep the narrative going, often forgetting that the mere simplicity of the first film's revenge plot was more than enough to justify the film's efficient navigating of some of the best action we've ever seen.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because this is a movie franchise which has turned itself into the ultimate action comic book come to life, making its name with mysterious characters that have titles rather than names, who speak only in threats; peddling ninja kevlar-wearing attack dogs, who only go for the groin; seeing foot chases turn into horse chases turn into bike-versus-horse chases, and, before we know it, bike versus bike with samurai swords chases. Flaws really go out the window when faced with the iconic image of John Wick on a horse.

Flaws really go out the window when faced with the iconic image of John Wick on a horse

Hell, the trilogy probably leaves director Chad Stahelski the veritable long-shot one-take Scorsese of action movies, going wild in his final act setting just because... well, Bruce Lee: Game of Death. On paper, this is every action movie you've ever seen condensed into one collection of greatest hits fight scenes. If you like action, it's awesomeness personified.

The world-building, flawed as it may be (and they're a whole lot more apparent on a repeat watch), is therefore only an added bonus to what is still basically a colourful excuse to have John Wick running around some fantasy criminal underworld (largely revolving around New York, but also taking in some exotic locations where Halle Berry gets to veritably prove that she might be ready for her own spin-off) whilst kicking, stabbing, throwing knives at, hacking, breaking, punching, and shooting - yes lots of shooting - hundreds of very determined enemies. Often in the head. Twice. Or three times for good measure.

It is grin-inducing excess, which, compared with any other top tier movie in any other genre may be seen as frivolous and gratuitous. But for the same reason that Endgame really deserves a pass on any flaws in favour of it being the conclusion to a 22 movie mega-franchise, Parabellum can't really be compared to anything other than its own ilk. And as action movies go, it doesn't really get any better than the John Wick movies.

John Wick 3 UHD 4K Blu-ray Picture

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum makes its UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray bow courtesy of Lionsgate, matching up to its earlier US release. It's an unsurprisingly stunning upscaled 4K presentation, following the reference form of both John Wick 4K and John Wick: Chapter 2 4K.

The disc presents a 3840 x 2160p resolution image utilising the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.39:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) in the form of Dolby Vision, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.

We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum on an LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with an LG UP970 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

This is undoubtedly one of the most striking movies on the format, utter gorgeous reference magnificence

This is one gorgeous movie. Forget the 2K DI nonsense, this is another prime example of absolutely knockout demo reference 4K material which is actually still technically 'only' upscaled'. Fine object detail is standout, picking up on every one of the increasing wounds on Wick's body, his light beard and the fine weave of his suits. The background textures are exquisite in the myriad locations, with so many memorable settings on offer, and not even a hint of softness.

Of course, as with the previous entries, it's the HDR, WCG and Dolby Vision that really knock this one out of the park. There are so many utterly jaw-dropping shots. From the gold glow of the incinerators underneath The Continental to the wonderful neon streetlights, to little things like the red lining on the umbrella in the rain. Inky blacks are bottomless, and that's even before we get to Casablanca, when every shot is gorgeous computer wallpaper landscape quality, and where the desert sunrise will absolutely amaze. And then there's the glass prism Game of Death finale. This is undoubtedly one of the most striking movies on the format, utter gorgeous reference magnificence.

John Wick 3 UHD 4K Blu-ray Sound

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum's 3D Object-based High Definition immersive audio comes in the form of a similarly stunning Dolby Atmos track, again following suit with the prior two instalments. It's a punishingly brutal action soundscape, as you would only expect, hardly letting up for the bone-crunching, bullet-slinging, knife-slashing duration. 

As with the video, this is reference excellence

Dialogue remains clear and coherent throughout, well delivered and prioritised despite the ballistic assault of an effect salvo, but of course, it's that and the score that really define this track. Effects boom out across the array with fine precision as bullets whip past your head and your walls explode with impacts. From the bustling train station to the heaving streets, and to the glass-centric finale, there's almost an aural signature to each setpiece, and it helps having some great scoring defining each and every moment, and bringing back that familiar John Wick theme from the last entry. As with the video, this is reference excellence.

John Wick 3 UHD 4K Blu-ray Extras

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum comes to 4K with a decent selection of extra features that actually make it across to the 4K disc itself for a change, rather than just remaining on the accompanying Blu-ray.

 A decent selection of extra features that actually make it across to the 4K disc

Largely Featurette-based, we get to look behind production; the story, the scope, mythology and characters. There's specific focus on the sandbox developments, the key action setpieces (and especially the horse scene), the locations, the dog fights, and the editing, all rounded off with some Trailers.

John Wick 3 UHD 4K Blu-ray Verdict

10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum 4K Blu-ray Review

Whilst Reeves is still standing, and clearly prepared to be front and centre in the thick of it all - going above and beyond to deliver a series of exquisite action epics, and remind genre fans that there's very little else out there that can possibly compete - it's hard to argue with the merits of a genre-defining John Wick franchise. Sure, the world-building may be a little strained, but Reeves' Wick isn't, and the action is more inventive and elaborate than ever which is, ultimately, more than enough for this series to be remembered for.

On paper, this is every action movie you've ever seen condensed into one collection of greatest hits fight scenes. If you like action, it's awesomeness personified

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum comes to UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray complete with unsurprisingly stunning Dolby Vision enhanced 4K visuals and Dolby Atmos enhanced audio, as well as a few nice extras. For action fans, it's an absolute must-have.
.

Unmissable

Scores

Movie

.
9

Picture Quality

10

Sound Quality

10

Extras

.
.
.
7

Overall

10
10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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