Life is Suffering

Most of John Wick 3 takes place in New York. The story travels of course; as seen here, Casablanca changed since Bogart snuffed out the Nazis. It always comes back to the US’s east coast though, the lights, the activity, the people’s total indifference to anything around them.

This third go-round for John Wick’s sensational style, born from pulpy gun fetishism, takes this material toward satire. It’s often hilarious, intended or not. These characters hold a slavish devotion to firearms, and their social norms based on a multi-cultural religious fanaticism. Their church? A hotel. No matter a difference in belief – John Wick 3 brings people together through two absolute truths. One of them is violence, the other a want for money. Making Wick (Keanu Reeves) the assassin’s target invites everyone to take part.

Wick begins this journey in Times Square, drenched and raining, his loyal dog invisibly tethered to his side. He’s looking for an escape. Rather than run (the John Wick world holds more assassins than non-assassins it seems), he hunts for artifacts. Those matter. It’s an existence where people worship things more than flesh and blood. Buy favors with stuff, and if not, kill.

John Wick 3 brings people together through two absolute truths. One of them is violence, the other a want for money

Referencing Dante and other works, John Wick 3 continues an adventure through verbose intellectualism, classing up knife fights and shoot-outs with brains (scattered and functioning, both). It’s a lot to accept considering the videogame-attuned splatter. So it follows: Wick begins battling small thugs, then faces armored foes (upgrading to armor-piercing bullets to counter), and finally trained modern samurai. The flow is undeniably game-like, and Wick’s implausible resistance to damage (and recovery) only furthers that logic.

The focus of John Wick 3 is expansion. Lore grows, layers stack, and John Wick improves. Not only in offensive power, but his background too. It’s a script with answers between spurts of choreography relishing the patient eastern style, rather than frenetic editing typical of the west. A knife brawl in the first act ranks as a series best, beginning John Wick 3’s fascination with shattering glass, leading to a finale in a mirror room. Police Story still did it better, but this homage doesn’t lose any edge.

By now, the series is deserving of derision. Hallway shoot-outs and point-blank headshots create discomfort in a country devoted to preserving real world gun violence. John Wick, the series, became an outlier. This violence is fashionable, and to an extent, obviously opaque in the choreography. There’s no sense of reality; our existence does not have a John Wick. In defending visible skull pieces ejecting from bullet wounds, it’s contextual. John Wick uses the outpouring of cruelty and death as an only outcome. As America reverted to the ways of old west ideology, John Wick came into being to reflect those values. We let him be, and let him continue.

Video

Digitally shot with a 2K finish, there’s enough detail and sharpness to believe this is 4K native. Stellar stuff. Outstanding skyline views handle cities and deserts without struggling. Intense close-ups produce fidelity en masse, with all the sweat, cuts, and texture desired from high-end discs.

What counts the most for John Wick 3 is contrast. Opening in Times Square at night, image density within this Dolby Vision pass never relents from this starting point. It’s incredible stuff. Maybe not the brightest, if so flush with pure black, anything sticking out draws full attention, peak nits not required. Aerials of New York bring out the city’s best.

This all happens with marvelous clarity, glossy and pristine with but a few glimpses of noise (and none of that proves bothersome). Seeing glass reflecting during the finale captures the essence of this entire transfer – it’s like watching everything through perfectly clean glass.

Color grading does rely on John Wick’s traditional teal push in spots, but now comes imbued with splashes of dazzling neons. Primary colors bounce from the screen, high in saturation and density, sans any cost to accurate flesh tones.

Audio

A little low in overall volume, but John Wick 3 doesn’t come from Disney. Bump the volume knob to achieve proper range. Don’t worry if bass support seems light at first. By the climax, the Atmos track explodes with vicious shotgun blasts and kicks begin connecting with vivid force. Turns out the audio design saved itself for the end. It’s worth it.

This isn’t meant to downplay the rest, stellar stuff that utilizes the full breadth of the soundstage. Shoot-outs and street chases envelop, igniting each speaker as needed and spreading ambient audio throughout. A fun moment during the early knife fight sends a blade front to back effortlessly. Wild and fantastical as the physical action is, the sonic support captures total reality in terms of positioning. This goes for heights too, including one moment where guns fire toward overhead glass, the impact legitimate enough to believe the ceiling is cracking.

Extras

Both the UHD and Blu-ray hold bonus features, per Lionsgate norms. Each action scene is given an individual featurette, followed by three 10(ish)-minute pieces focused on the story, the character of Wick, and training routines. Basic stuff, primarily. An eight-minute look at the editing rates as the best bit here, detailing how action scenes go together. Finally, a featurette on the videogame adaptation flows into a trailer collection.

John Wick 3
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

John Wick 3 loses none of the heavy violence from its predecessors, and imbues the series with additional depth to keep things interesting.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 48 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: