There are two things in this world that really confound me. Nope, it's not wondering what the secret of life is. I've got that figured. It's to get a Ferrari. And it isn't how many angels can you fit on the head of a pin, either. Fifty-six, I reckon, same as DiMaggio's hitting streak.
No, the first of my dual quandary is, how anyone in America isn't repulsed by the administration currently besmirching the sanctity of democracy down in Foggy Bottom? The second dilemma that really has me scratching my head is why on Earth someone would want to see director Chad Stahelski's "John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum?"
I concur with Hesh Horn, my longtime moviegoing companion, that this ignominious, violence-saturated cauldron of ugly swill should be listed in The Guinness Book of Records for possessing the greatest number of individually perpetrated killings in any one movie. It is mind-boggling.
Of course, parsing it all out, citizens used to scamper for tickets to the Roman Coliseum to see lions eat Christians. And while it's not as openly popular as it once was in the U.S., I betcha there aren't more than three degrees of separation between your Uncle Mel and someone who knows where there's a good cockfight Saturday night.
Yeah, yeah, it's some sort of recessive gene that goes back to our days in the primordial mud, way before Shakespeare, Groucho Marx and Cole Porter illustrated that there are much nicer amusements than watching two pelt-attired cavemen try to snap off each other's heads. But I tell you, Skip, I'm a bit tired of making excuses for the rather patchy evolutionary trip we humans are taking to that ultimate goal of becoming a breed of humanistic menschen.
But worse than that despondency is the gnawing realization that the same percentage of folks unconcerned with the current yoke wrapped around the neck of our republic isn't really into the idea of a greater destiny. Apologists for the Dog-Eat-Dog set contend that one has little time to ponder a higher realm of existence when it's all they can do to put food on the table. Thus the frightening horror that I fear I'll see if I lift the rock from this socioeconomic conundrum is that it's just easier to eat lots of Cheetos, drink massive quantities of beer and watch mind-numbing movies like "John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum" than to be a Braveheart and make all sorts of sacrifices for a beneficent civilization that you may never even live to see.
Adding insult to the societal injury movies like the John Wick franchise commit, this is big business. It has grossed $53 million as of this writing, and it'll play all summer before going on to the really big money that movies make in the post-theater convenience of our dens. Hey, I like a buck as well as the next guy. But even when the cigarette industry knew it was killing countless millions, they kept us puffing. And now, global warming is discounted, as Mr. Gore assured, as an inconvenient truth. Oh, no way am I saying we should ban films like "John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum." That'd be agin' the First Amendment. Actually, its ilk should be displayed in a museum, perhaps next to the torture devices they used in Olde Salem to make witches confess.
And while this concludes the socially conscious, ranting diatribe portion of the review, astute readers will note that there hasn't been a smidgen of the film's plot divulged yet. Fact is, there's really no need. First off, John Wick devotees couldn't care less what a critic from among the Great Unwashed has to say about their cherished snake pit of entertainment. Secondly, there isn't much to tell — at least not that I could grok. But lest the Pulitzer Committee cites the one time I didn't describe a plot to deny me their brass ring, I comply in the next paragraph.
Keanu Reeves's title character, an assassin extraordinaire, is on the run for slaying a colleague without authorization from the International Assassins Guild. Tsk, tsk. But while employing a veritable cast of thousands worthy of a Cecil B. DeMille epic to delete him, the home office is flummoxed. From the ubiquitous, point blank shooting of skulls to slicing bloodthirsty adversaries off their speeding motorcycles with a samurai sword, the only thing that perhaps keeps Wick from employing every possible way to end the lives of his pursuers is the brevity of a two-hour feature film.
All of which suggests that if our executioner were to one day write his memoir, he might title it with a variation on John Barrymore's fabled lament by bemoaning, "So many people to kill, so little time."
"John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum," rated R, is a Summit Entertainment release directed by Chad Stahelski and stars Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry and Mark Dacascos. Running time: 130 minutes
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Am I that naïve? I sat there aghast as some took in stride the vengeance being meted out by former strip club employees upon their predominantly Wall Street clients in director Lorene Scafaria's "Hustlers," a scathing dramatization of Jessica Pressler's New York Magazine expose.
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