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John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

A former hitman fights for his life in this ­fantastic action romp
      Semi-retired assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is having a bad run. Declared excommunicado for making a hit at a hotel where hitmen find refuge, Wick is under contract. With $14 million on his head tempting his former colleagues, he has one hour to get out of town.
     To survive, he’ll have to fight his way through New York and travel round the globe to seek the Elder, the hitman society honcho to whom he has pledged his allegiance. It won’t be easy. But John Wick isn’t a typical hitman, and he’s about to show his would-be assassins why he’s a legend.
     The third film in the gonzo action series is a berserk, bloody good time. A former stunt coordinator, director Chad Stahelski (John Wick: Chapter 2) is uniquely qualified to direct a movie that’s all about the action. Dozens of fight sequences, including one remarkable brawl with antique guns and knives, are dramatized with style and artistry. Knives, books and even horses become deadly weapons. Stahelski holds the camera still for the action, offering beautiful long takes that show off intricate fight choreography.
     The movie earns its R rating. Heads are blown off, eyes stabbed and jaws dislocated. If you’re squeamish, don’t get a big popcorn at the concession stand. The violence is also a great reason to see this movie in a packed house where you can scream and cheer along with the masses. 
     The John Wick series sets itself apart from other great action flicks by creating a real world for its assassins. From the murder secretaries who look like tattooed pin-ups to behavioral codes, specificity makes the ridiculous plot and cavalcade of quirky characters seem nuanced and fascinating. 
      Reeves is the calm eye of the storm. His Wick is a vicious fighter with a dry sense of humor. His lack of quirks helps us identify with him. When he matches up against wildly eccentric villains, Wick becomes the violent everyman we all want to win.
     With bonkers action, funny moments and beautifully shot set pieces, this is the best installment of the John Wick action franchise. It’s got everything you could want — great action, cute animals, lots of humor and a great lead. 
Great Action • R • 130 mins.
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Aladdin 
     A twist of fate leads petty thief Aladdin (Mena Massoud) to the Cave of Wonders, where he unleashes a Genie (Will Smith) from an enchanted lamp. Now he has the world at his fingertips and three wishes to bring him closer to his dream: marrying the beautiful princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott).
     Disney’s live-action remakes have been hit and miss. Beauty and the Beast was a tragedy, The Jungle Book was a delight and Cinderella was so middling you’ve probably forgotten it. Still, remaking this iconic feat in animation is a huge gamble. Smith has the unenviable task of trying to make audiences forget about Robin Williams’ version of Genie and substitute his own. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 128 mins. 
 
Booksmart
     Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are the smart kids who worked hard to achieve their dreams. 
    They should be happy about their accomplishment, but they fear they’ve missed out on a part of their high school experience. So they squeeze four years of debaucherous activities into the weekend before graduation. 
     The directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, Booksmart is a raucous comedy that looks at the female friendship and the pressures women face to succeed. It should be hilarious with Feldstein and Dever, both fearless, charismatic leads with great timing. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 102 mins. 
 
Brightburn
     When an alien vessel crashes into a cornfield, the childless couple who find it are overjoyed. They save a small baby from the wreckage and raise him as their own. When the baby displays odd abilities, adoptive mother Tori (Elizabeth Banks) dreams he will become a hero.
     But this isn’t a comic book. 
     As Tori’s son grows older, he becomes less manageable. He won’t be told what to do, he’s prone to violent rages and he’s starting to understand that everyone in the world is weaker than he is. Can Tori reason with her son? Or did she raise the end of the world?
    A twisted take on the Superman myth, Brightburn is a horror movie for comic book fans. Produced by Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn, this movie comes with a comic book pedigree. The concept is interesting, but the script and the shooting style don’t seem to dive into the material. What’s left is likely a horror movie where the slasher happens to wear a cape.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 91 mins.