WARNING: The following contains spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, in theaters now.
When it comes to the action genre, it's pretty much a given the hero will be more or less invincible. Look no further than the swath of films starring Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis, to say nothing of more contemporary icons Dwayne Johnson, Liam Neeson and Jason Statham.
Keanu Reeves' Neo, from The Matrix, was in a similar vein, but when it comes to narrative protection, his John Wick takes the cake. The ante is upped even further with John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, in which he doesn't only have the strongest plot armor in the series, he actually may be the most bulletproof in all of film history.
We've seen John Wick survive everything thrown at him and somehow walk away each time. Before Parabellum, John had been run over by cars, stabbed, shot, and beaten with almost every weapon imaginable, only to move on as if he were Wolverine. But he's human -- sorry, there aren't any metahumans or super-soldiers in the John Wick universe -- so the audience can suspend disbelief so much. Taking painkillers and having the Continental doctor stitch up his wounds apparently gives him some sort of healing factor, because a few minutes later, John is back in the thick of things.
However, Parabellum is over the top from the start, as John takes on some chefs, who leave him with multiple stab wounds -- and blades embedded in his body. John soldiers on, though, and as he outdoes opponent after opponent in an effort to have his "excommunicado" status lifted, it only gets more ridiculous. Now, don't get us wrong, we love the high-octane, gory spectacle, but once more we're left wondering why is it not a single one of the hundreds of people who have fired at John and hit his bulletproof armor haven't aimed for the head.
It's so outlandish it seems the franchise is basking in its own silliness, embracing John as a one-man army, impervious to losing blood, even as he's thrown through multiple glass cases while fighting Zero's warriors. Coincidentally, when he's run over twice again in this film by gangsters, rather than come out and shoot him when he's on the ground, they wait for John to limp -- not run -- away, and then pursue him.
Still, the ride's pretty enjoyable because, let's be real, we love the over-the-top 1990s action feel director Chad Stahelski is pouring into these films. And honestly, what else can we really expect from a hitman who fights gunmen with a knife? It all comes to a head in the final scene, in which Ian McShane's Winston shoots John on the roof of the Continental. The assassin falls several stories, slams into an emergency staircase, and strikes the pavement with an impact that surely should have killed him. Yet the final scene shows John conscious and making a deal with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) to go after everyone who betrayed him.
It's all in good fun, but you can't help but think John is covered every step of the way. Even with his "excommunicado" status, warlords such as Halle Berry's Sofia, Angelica Huston's Director and Jerome Flynn's Berrada keep offering him amnesty to conveniently move the plot along. It's obvious that being excommunicated from the assassin's guild really doesn't place John at a disadvantage, because he'll have Hail Marys in almost every pocket of his custom design suits. Just ask those bikers he killed while on horseback, or the guys he shot while stripping down an antique gun and retrofitting it for his own bullets; There's no plot convenience that's too far out of reach for the Baba Yaga.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum stars Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas, Lance Reddick and Anjelica Huston.