- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Keanu Reeves’ “excommunicado” assassin continued through yet another murderous survival course earlier this year in a blockbuster sequel that now rampages on the ultra-high definition format.

In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 131 minutes, 2.85:1 aspect ratio, $24.99), Mr. Reeves indeed returns for a third time as the much-maligned “Boogeyman” while director Chad Stahelski submerses him into brilliantly choreographed close quarters combat and gunfights.

Taking place literally 10 minutes after the last film, Mr. Wick is on the run after being targeted by the secret High Table counsel for killing a high-level crime lord on the grounds of the assassin friendly Continental Hotel in New York City.

He must now dodge his worldwide brethren trying to kill him, with a $14 million bounty on his head no less, while seeking an elder from the High Table to help save his life.

Mr. Wick gets a little help from the owner of the Moroccan Continental Hotel (Halle Berry), but an adjudicator for the counsel further complicates his world as she demands penance from anyone who has helped him.

Those unlucky individuals, that help flesh out the backstory of the lead character, include an underground crime lord named the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), hotel manger Winston (Ian McShane) and early mentor to Mr. Wick, the Ruska Roma Society Director (Anjelica Huston).

As in the past films, the white-knuckle, thrilling action scenes will cause viewers to break out in fist pumping and grins as the director ratchets up the gore and unleashes waves of killing sprees with the bad guy body count in the hundreds.

Just some of the spectacular moments feature Mr. Wick’s lethal use of a library book and stable horses, a pair of ferocious and agile dogs on the attack, the best group knife fight in the history of cinema and a nighttime motorcycle chase, samurai-style.

Mr. Reeves and Mr. Stahelski are the current dynamic duo of innovative action thrillers and, don’t fear loyal fans, the end of the film confirms that Mr. Wick will return to deliver another round of lethal adventures.

4K in action: Viewers will be bummed that the 2160p upscale was sourced from only the 2K digital intermediate.

Still, the use of digital cameras on the shoot works well in the 2160p presentation and really allows cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s choices to shine with added boosts from the high dynamic range enhancements.

The best example of the 4K format at its best starts with the saturated title sequence mixing purples, pinks and blues that transitions to a crisp view of the Statue of Liberty so lifelike that I felt I was flying in a helicopter next to it.

Saturated colors are also so vibrant that it’s sometimes like watching a video game such as when Mr. Wick runs through the rainy streets of New York or during a neon green-bathed firefight punctuated with crisp white gunshot flashes and red blood sprays.

Further examples of scenes benefiting from the UHD transformation include a battle in an entirely glass-enclosed floor of the Continental Hotel (awash in blues glows and massive video art), Mr. Wick getting thrown through a series of glass display cases that explode shards on impact, and the hero walking through the Moroccan desert with a super blue sky and orange shades of sand.

Best extras: The 4K disc contains all of the extras, no need to jump to the Blu-ray, and that translates into nine featurettes offering roughly 75-minutes worth of information about the production, loaded with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

The best of the bunch, three to be exact, cover the incredible practical stunt work, the fight choreography and the digital special effects that involved not only humans but also some really smart Belgian Malinois dogs. It’s hard to believe that someone did not get killed making this movie.

Viewers using the included digital code to watch the movie on iTunes will also find an extra 3-minute, too-quick analysis on select action scenes by fight and stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio. He covers the choreography that mixes jiu-jitsu, gun-fu, judo, karate, kung fu, and throwing knives.

It’s worth noting that owners will need to download the Lionsgate app on their phone to get the code in a process that is cumbersome and a total time waster. Just give viewers a physical code on a piece of paper that they can type in and be done with it.

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