While watching the rather pretentiously titled John Wick Chapter Three: Parabellum, I tried to count the number of killings. About 15 minutes in, it was up to about 10 and I had to quit. They were coming so fast it was impossible to keep with them.
The movie is an overlong (two solid hours) orgy of violence, with people killed with such methods as gunshots (mostly to the head), swords, knives, axes, and, less conventionally and most horrifically, a library book. The bibliophile in me winced.
According to Cinemablend, which has obsessively catalogued and reported the "kill count" in all three movies, this one had 177: 124 deaths by gun, 32 by swords and knives, and 11 "other" (including that book).
At least I'm not squeamish: the many fight and kill scenes in the film are well staged and a slightly guilty pleasure.
I didn't see the first John Wick movie but beneath all the different events Two and Three seem to have the same basic formula: Keanu Reeves kills (lots of) people for revenge and/or to stay alive.
Although he sometimes suffers mightily in the process, he adheres to the standard movie hero formula of almost never missing a shot (unless it's necessary for the story) and being indestructible: he is able to carry on long after a normal person would be dead or at the very least unconscious. At least he has to reload his guns.
The John Wick movies are a little reminiscent of the original Death Wish: in both, a man suffers grievous loss and goes on a violent rampage. And in both, the lead actor has presence and charisma but limited acting ability. Charles Bronson plays the architect who becomes a vigilante after his wife is is murdered, and daughter rendered catatonic after being raped, by a bunch of hoods (one of whom is a young Jeff Goldblum).
It's supposed to be about how an ordinary man can be driven over the edge but Bronson is hardly the right choice for that (at one point Jack Lemmon was considered).
Bronson has about one and a half expressions, about as much emotional range, and diction that makes Marlon Brando seem like Julie Andrews.
Hearing him recite lines like "I'm a bleeding-heart liberal" is ludicrous. It's only when he shuts up and starts shooting that he becomes believable but, interestingly, the film is pro-vigilante while the source novel apparently was not (the 2007 movie Death Sentence, a loose adaptation of Garfield's sequel, was far more ambivalent).
Reeves has a bit more expressive range than Bronson, but that's not saying much. Still, he's sympathetic, believable as an action hero, and can play gritty determination and perform credibly in scenes of action and violence.
Wisely, he hasn't been given too much dialogue: in movies like Much Ado About Nothing and Bram Stoker's Dracula, he was easily outshone by the better actors. At least he's found a suitable franchise besides the Bill and Ted movies (of which there is soon to be a belated third: the mind boggles).
Keanu Reeves' ex-hit man is far more credible to be an effective killer than Bronson' architect and his motivation might struck just as loud a chord with viewers: Wick's dog was killed in the first movie, breaking one of the great cinematic taboos. You can off as many people you want, in as many ways as you want, but leave the pets alone. The dog motif is a recurring one in the films: in this one they get to be in on the action.
The Wick movies have an elaborate mythology about the rules and regulations of killing, among other things. But while the cast here is impressive - it includes Anjelica Huston, Lawrence Fishburne and Ian McShane - the talk scenes are not what you're coming to see (especially when the dialogue is merely functional rather than witty or memorable). Run, Keanu, run! Kill, Keanu, kill!