John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is tearing it up at the box office, even giving the recently released Marvel juggernaut Avengers: Endgame a run for its money. Check out our review of the movie, followed by a review of its firearms below.
This is how you make an action sequel. If you want to get all high-browed about it, you can go check out this astonishingly pretentious review from The New Yorker, if that’s your thing. If you are already a fan of the genre but have been feeling like the innovation and the spark has been gone from action for some time (other than the occasional flicker here and there), you will love this film series.
A second sequel that is on par with not only the original, but the previous sequel, is no easy feat, especially for a series that started out as a fairly low budget standalone movie. But John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is a worthy successor and continuation of the story and what an action sequel needs to be. Everything is bigger, turned up compared to the previous films—but not too damn much. After all, all the events in the three films are supposed to have happened in a matter of weeks. The season shouldn’t change, so other static elements can’t change that much either, and they haven’t, making it feel like you really are revisiting this universe every time a new film comes out.
Is it over the top? Yes, but its not pretending to be anything else and its utterly consistent in its over-the-topness.
One of the big advantages the series has, from a storytelling perspective, is that it exists in a completely fictional universe where the regular rules aren’t fast and true. Its fine if everything is a bit exaggerated, as long as EVERYTHING is exaggerated to the same degree, and I think this is where John Wick has succeeded most as a series where other franchises and action movies have failed miserably in the past.
And the fact that the story takes place in an almost comic book-esque world, albeit a dark one, lets it get away with a lot more and have a sort of lighter tone than it would otherwise. After all, the hero of the story is an assassin who has killed who knows how many innocent people in his career, and who kills scores upon scores of bad guys throughout three films, usually in a fairly brutal fashion.
When you have a movie that tries to couch itself deep in reality like the Bourne series, you can only take the character so far, make so many sequels before it becomes parody. Bourne falls through a stairway and is all busted up and limping. Wick gets hit by multiple cars and never breaks a bone. Every bullet and knife wound he sustains, and there are several, can be patched up with some stitches, bourbon, and the doc’s magic pills. He’s superhuman, but in this universe, that’s fine, because the reality of everything is just a bit escalated, a bit heightened. Not as far as a grindhouse movie would go, but just short.
John sometimes fires more rounds than a magazine could hold, but he does reload, often. Something many action movies can’t claim.
At the same time John Wick 3 is the most action heavy film of the series so far, and that’s saying something. There are a veritable pile of hand-to-hand fight sequences, all immaculately choreographed and staged—thankfully the days of super tight shots and shaky cam for fight scenes…I’m looking at you Bourne series and every movie released in the following 15 years…are long gone—and the only thing interrupting those are gunfights that are equally well staged or a motorcycle chase.
But that’s the thing—when the movie is over, you feel like you just went on a ride WHILE being told a cool story at the same time. Is that story meaningful? Not necessarily, but its solid and the themes throughout are consistent and bold.
This film is sort of a crescendo, as we’ve been introduced enough to John and his world that we don’t need any more primers and can kind of be thrown right into the good stuff. While much of the cast is made up of familiar faces who haven’t died in the past two movies, we get a couple new major characters in Sofia (Halle Berry) and Zero (Mark Dacascos), the latter of which brought some great bounce to the slightly off-kilter bad guy pastiche that made it feel fresh.
I admit, I was worried that Sofia would feel like one of those tacked on characters, yet another ghost from John’s past that shows up at the right place and time, but that’s not the case. The character has just enough meat to be interesting and, in addition to acting the hell out of the role, Berry also put in a massive amount of preparation and training to engage in a really long gun-fu sequence and look just as capable as Keanu Reeves while doing it—and he’s put in years of training and two movies on it already. She more than succeeds, plus, Sofia’s attack dogs are freakin’ awesome.
The Wick series respects its audience—it doesn’t feel like it has to spoonfeed a story to you or have characters who are present just to be exposition machines. It does a wonderful job of showing, not telling, and that continues with Part 3, even though we get some bigger breadcrumbs related to the High Table and John’s past than we have before.
We learn that John’s real name is Jardani Jovonovich and that he’s from a family (they use the word tribe so maybe a kind of crime family) in Belarus. In the U.S., it seems he was raised by The Director (Angelica Houston) who brought the tribe and its code over from Eastern Europe. It seems, in addition to training ballet dancers, she also oversees the training of judo experts.
As with most of the story, its cryptic, but there’s just enough give to spark the imagination.
We also learn more about the structure of this secret society, with the members of the High Table calling the shots and a better sense of how their structure of rules and consequences is arrange.
Above that is The Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), who is the supreme authority and lives hidden deep in the Sahara desert. The High Table uses agents called Adjudicators to mete out punishment for breaking its rules and to inforce its directives. The Adjudicator we meet is played by Asia Kate Dillon, who isn’t getting enough credit for her excellent performance. Any actor that can make you hate their character with precious little dialogue has done their job.
The film ends on a mild cliffhanger of sorts after a tremendous shootout at The NYC Continental. The main characters aren’t in peril, per say, but we know there’s a lot more to come—another tradition the series seems to be building. It was announced upon the release of JW3 that John Wick 4 will be hitting theaters in May, 2021. We are ready.
TTI STI 2011 Combat Master
The gun that has gotten the most exposure is the striking TTI STI 2011 Combat Master pistol chambered in 9mm Major. It’s a 1911 platform pistol that has been highly customized as a joint project between STI and Taran Tactical Innovations, which customized the guns for John Wick 2, including John’s Glock 34.
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STI had the actual screen-used hero gun on display at SHOT Show 2019. In addition to the unique machining on the slide, the gun has a flared magwell and extended magazines that provide a total 24-round capacity.
The 9mm Major is a wildcat cartridge used by competitive shooters and it was specifically designed for that purpose. It’s designed to produce high muzzle velocities while still being a soft shooting cartridge.
Essentially it’s a 9mm Luger round that is loaded to Major power factor, which is usually more powerful than any off the shelf 9mm +P and even +P+ ammo.
The pistol is currently available as a custom package from TTI for a cool $3,899.
Something else that’s really interesting about this gun is what STI calls a Sight Tracker mod. This means that the front sight is actually mounted on a raised portion of the barrel itself instead of the slide. There is a precise cutout in the top of the slide that matches the raised portion on the barrel for a seamless look when the slide is closed.
With the slide open, it would look like the photo directly above.
In the Instagram video below, you can see the portion of exposed bronze barrel near the muzzle on top and Taran mentions it and says the John Wick gun actually just had a bull barrel, and no Sight Tracker mod.
Having a front sight mounted on the barrel means it doesn’t move with the slide, in theory making follow-up shots more accurate and faster. The cutout also serves to lighten the slide, which allows it to cycle faster and reduces felt recoil, as there is less mass moving back and forth when you fire each round.
While the STI/TTI pistol got the most attention, Wick only uses it for the final quarter of the movie during the big showdown at The Continental, along with plenty of other firearms. During the bulk of the movie, he switches guns a lot, often forced to use whatever he picks up off dead bad guys.
In the first movie, John preferred the H&K P30L and the Glock 26 as a backup. In the second one, he went with a TTI custom Glock 34 and a custom Glock 26, and it looks like he still favors the Austrian pistols.
During the last stage of the bit showdown at The Continental with the High Table commandoes, John pulls a MOS Glock 19 with a red dot sight off a downed bad guy after his TTI/STI runs dry…which takes awhile as he’s wearing an entire belt of 22-round magazines. He uses this Glock for the rest of the movie.
When John travels to Casablanca, he uses a Glock G34 similar to the one he had in Part 2. Since Sofia has a TTI custom Glock 19 (more on that below), it make sense that he would have gotten the G34 from her place, though how he concealed it on himself on the way into her boss’s HQ is a mystery.
Near the beginning of the movie, after bursting into some kind of museum that has an Old West firearms display, he tries to load some old school lead cast ammo into one of the display guns, a Remington 1875, only to find the cylinder has been blocked to make the gun innoperable. Another has a blocked barrel, and the frame with a working trigger has no working hammer. He quickly disassembles the three guns and uses the parts to form one working revolver.
Remington 1875 Revolver
In a great nod to Tuco in the spaghetti western classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, he then listens carefully to the timing of cylinder as he turns it next to his ear. We even get a little flourish of spaghetti western music right after, and before he uses the single-action revolver to shoot a bad guy from the hip as he breaks through a door behind him. Plus, it’s pretty funny that John does all that just to fire one shot.
TTI Custom SIG Sauer MPX Carbine
When John gears up in the Continental’s armory, his first loadout includes the TTI/STI pistol with many magazines, as well as a PCC customized by TTI and built on a SIG Sauer MPX Carbine fitted with a Trijicon MRO sight, a Streamlight TLR-8 weaponlight/laser module, TTI Ultimate MPX magwell, TTI + 11 base bad, and a BCM adjustable stock.
What interesting is, with the extensions, the magazines he’s using hold 41 rounds of 9mm. However, when he uses the PCC during the big shootout with the High Table commandos, from the gunshots and effects it seems to be more powerful than a 9mm and he runs out of ammo astonishingly fast—the opposite of what usually happens in movies. I was shocked that he was switching out mags after maybe 10 or 12 rounds, while his pistol mags seemed to go on forever.
If there’s one spot in the movie where the fine details of the gun use went a little wonky, it’s here. Who would of thought I’d be complaining about an action movie character doing too many mag changes!
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We also see John Wick deal with some bladed weapons. There is a protracted fight scene in the same museum where he finds the Remington 1875, but in a room full of knives, tomahawks, and hatchets. There’s a lot of wild knife weilding and throwing throughout..and some really amazing fight choreography.
Wick also does some motorcycle riding for the first time in the series (Keanu Reeves is a big motorcycle guy in real life) instead of a car chase. And, this being a sequel, Wick faces off against a gang of assassins wielding Katanas on their own motorcycles as they race along the closed Veranzano Bridge. Awesome.
Benelli M2 Super 90 (TTI M2 Ultimate Package)
Once he deals with the first wave of High Table commandos at the Continental and finds out they are wearing some serious body armor, including full armored helmets with faceshields, he returns to the hotel’s armory and says he needs more firepower.
He and Charon (Lance Reddick) grab a couple Benelli M2 Super 90 semi-auto shotguns customized by TTI with their Ultimate 3-Gun Package. They also load up with what Charon just describes as 12 gauge shells with stainless steel slugs. “Armor piercing.”
They stand up to the commandos’ body armor just fine.
Reeves also performs some impressive on-screen quad-loads with the shotgun as he moves through a course of fire that would get any 3-Gunner excited.
TTI makes a whole lot of mods to this Benelli, including: custom bolt carrier, trigger job including 3 lbs. pull weight reduction, receiver loading port machined and polished for faster reloading, including reload cut on the receiver to help keep rounds centered, extractor and barrel mods to prevent jams, TTI custom lifter, shell carrier, tune and polish shell catch and carrier latch, Taran’s Signature tube and barrel point of impact correction, forearm stippling…
…straight stock stippling, recoil pad modification that prevents snagging on clothing, cheek pad, TTI ultimate safety, TTI oversized bolt release, TTI springs package to help handle low recoil loads, extended mag tube, TTI Ultimate charging handle, Hi Viz fiber optic red or green front sight, gel recoil pad, Nordic Components Picatinny rail, Benelli light-modified (Plus) choke, front and rear QD, sling plate, Match Saver shell holder, deburr and polish carrier window notch, and a trigger guard access cut.
It’s unclear if the motorcycle scene is related to this scene, but John Wick also shoots a biker from horseback with what looks to be a Heckler & Koch P30L, the same gun he used in the first film, but this time, without a compensator. A behind the scene photo of this stunt was one of the first official shots from the movie that was circulated.
Custom Glock G34
As mentioned in the review, Halle Berry joins the cast this time around as Sofia. She now runs the Continental in Casablanca, but at one time, she was an assassin like John and its implied they used to work together. From what we glean from the dialog, in the past John was instrumental in spriting away and hiding Sofie’s daughter to keep her safe from anyone who would wish to do her mother harm. In exchange, Sofia gave John a marker, which he is cashing in to get her to help him appeal his excommunication and the $14M bounty on his head.
She is on par with John when it comes to assassin abilities. She has two attack dogs with body armor that she uses to great effect in combat, and she eve stashes a pistol in one of their vests to get by security.
Once the battle heats up, Sofia uses a Glock 34 MOS (Gen4) with Trijicon RMR sight in 9mm. We can tell it’s a Gen4 because it includes the top slide cut, which is absent from the Gen5. John also uses a Gen4 G34 pistol in this sequence with iron sights and an FDE frame.
Here’s another shot of Sofia with her pistol, the red dot sight clearly visible. She fights in a manner similar to John, possibly indicating she was trained with him or by him in the past.
TTI Custom Glock 19
Sofia also uses the TTI Custom Glock 19 above that looks to have the same Combat Master packages as John’s G34 from the second movie. I’m not exactly sure where she uses this gun. Oh well, guess I’ll have to watch it again.
Custom SIG Sauer P365
When Sofia and John are going over their past in her penthouse, she loads a SIG Sauer P365 customized by Grey Guns and hides it in the body armor on one of her attack dogs to sneak it past the guards at her old bosses HQ, which is where the High Table’s mysterious gold coins are minted, along with the intricate markers they use.
The P365 is fitted with a threaded barrel and a 12-round extended magazine.
THE CONTINENTAL’S ARMORY
And now, a few shots of the armory housed in the bowels of The Continental.
The second movie had more than one armory scene. Though Part 3 only has one, it’s a good one.
Also, you can actually by the product highlighted in the TTI Instagram post below. The Vault III comes with The STI 2011 Combat Master from Part 3, the TTI Glock 34 Combat Master from Part 2, along with the TTI Ultimate MPX and the TTI Ultimate Benelli 3-Gun shotgun, all housed in a case made to look like John Wick’s vault where he buried his guns under his basement floor in the first and second movies. It also comes with several genuine gold High Table coins, and, of course, a f*cking pencil.
It’s currently available for pre-order now through BigDaddyUnlimited.com for a paltry $17,999.99
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John Wick 4 is expected May, 2022.