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A Second-by-Second Breakdown of the First Trailer for ‘John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum’

A totally calm analysis of—oh, who are we kidding: Samurai sword fights on motorcycles! Boban Marjanovic getting killed by a book! Halle Berry has tactical dogs!

Lionsgate/Ringer illustration

There’s a very small list of things that, amid the regular doldrums of life, spark uncontainable joy. These things are: breakfast sandwiches, wool blankets, puppies, and the John Wick franchise.

Those last two things may seem contradictory, especially if you have a cursory grasp of the John Wick films and know that the crux of the plot hinges on puppy murder. But I assure you, John Wick, our greatest modern franchise, is that good. It puts the shaky-cam action of the Jason Bourne movies to shame by infusing fight scenes with the balletic brilliance of Hong Kong–style martial arts; it’s revitalized the career of the great Keanu Reeves (to paraphrase Neo: He now knows gun-fu); it’s established some fascinating, assassin-related world-building that never takes itself too seriously. (By the end of John Wick: Chapter 2, the film implies that the entirety of New York is just a bunch of hired guns, which will make you think twice about being rude to someone on the subway.)

If you’re not yet caught up with all things Wickian, stop reading this, leave your current premises—quit your job if you need to; you can always find another one—and spend your afternoon luxuriating yourself in the Citizen Kane of improbable long-distance headshots. On the other hand, if you already have the words “Baba Yaga” tattooed on some part of your body, let me introduce you to the first footage of John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum, arriving May 17.

It’s the greatest two minutes of 2019 and likely won’t be topped until [checks calendar] May 17. There are so many things to unpack in this trailer—tactical dogs! Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic!—that I must do it precisely and intensely, second by glorious second.


This was the only bad part of the trailer. It had nothing to do with John Wick, or John Wick—this was one of those little, four-second compilations of footage studios have been putting together as of late to let you know that you’re about to see a trailer. I don’t care whether this is done for Facebook’s sake—I would prefer not to have a single frame of this trailer spoiled ahead of time. Attention to Lionsgate and the rest of Hollywood: Trailer teasers within the trailers themselves need to die. If you need someone to take care of this problem, I know a guy.


Check out these fucking logos:

GIF of Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate logos flashing All screen shots via Lionsgate

You know something dank is about to go down when moody rain is pouring down on the Lionsgate logo. This really sets the tone for John Wick, man and character, since it’s the Baba Yaga’s forever mood. Remember: This franchise began with John’s wife dying—the funeral happened during a torrential downpour—followed by the death of the puppy his wife gifted him. John (we’re on a first-name basis) also wears black suits all the time, and they always look good—even when they got soggy in a storm.

If someone randomly asked John in one of these movies whether he has a favorite season of the year, he’d probably say, “Doesn’t matter, so long as it rains” under his breath.


This is when we’re reminded of where things left off with John at the end of John Wick: Chapter 2. A quick recap: John headshotted that punk-ass Santino D’Antonio on Continental grounds at the end of the movie, mid-sentence and everything. He had a lot of legitimate reasons to pull the trigger, including but not limited to: Santino BLEW UP HIS HOME AND NEARLY KILLED HIS SECOND DOG.

But killing someone at the Continental breaks its code of ethics, so Winston (Ian McShane) has no choice but to excommunicate and put a global bounty on John, who’s also lost all the hotel’s resources. Winston, ever the pal, gives John a one-hour head start—which is presumably why we see John scrambling across New York with his dog alongside him, looking to make the most of that time before he’s hunted down by a small army of (overmatched) hitmen.


John seeks “passage” from this woman, played by Anjelica Huston, who we know is called the Director, thanks to some casting news revealed last May. I’m getting some major bohemian mom vibes from her, and John is holding a rosary when he meets with her.

A woman in a red sweater

“I can’t help you,” she responds, crushing my spirit. If the Parabellum synopsis is anything to go off of, John will be using the “service industry” to try to fight/headshot his way out of the city.


This is the customary Reflecting on Everything That’s Led to This portion of the trailer. I mean, what humble beginnings we had: The first John Wick was about a retired hitman’s understandable urge to avenge the murdered puppy gifted to him by his deceased wife by killing Theon Greyjoy. John understandably still really misses his wife:

A closeup of John Wick’s hand holding a photo of him and his late wife

It appears, wherever John finds this book, he’s also basically cashing in on his emergency fund: In addition to the rosary and the photo, he’s got himself a few gold coins, the currency used for all services in the assassin underworld. I forgot if they had an official name, so I checked the John Wick wiki, John Wicki (nice), and it appears they’ve always just been “gold coins.” That’s cool with me.

Anyways, these coins may prove to be handy, especially if he has to bribe his way through the service industry.


A screen shot reading “THIS SUMMER”

Oh, trust me, I’m well aware.


“Do you expect him to make it out?” Lance Reddick’s Charon, concierge of the Continental’s New York branch, asks Winston, as we see a bunch of anonymous assassins get ready to put their lives on the line—and let’s be honest, get brutally decimated—trying to pick up the $14 million bounty on John’s head.


Wait, is that Bronn from Game of Thrones?

Jerome Flynn

HELL YES, THAT’S BRONN FROM GAME OF THRONES. Interestingly, Parabellum isn’t anywhere on Jerome Flynn’s IMDb or Wikipedia page. Perhaps his role was being kept secret—the preceding John Wick movies had a main antagonist, so maybe that’s where he fits in. That handkerchief definitely screams, “I’m the villain.”


We’ve got an excommunicado countdown, baby!

GIF of a ticking clock in an office

[Genteel Captain Obvious voice] From this point forward, shit is going down.


Ian McShane says, “And away we go,” and at this point I have clenched my fists to the point of drawing blood from my palms.



GIF of John Wick throwing a gun at someone

Apologies to my future wife—my firstborn son will be dubbed John Wick Surrey.


Check out this gnarly formula: John Wick + Motorcycles + Katanas = Pure Cinematic Ebullience

John Wick shooting at men on swords riding motorcycles

This seems destined to be one of the defining scenes of Parabellum, but this sequence owes a great debt to The Villainess, the Korean action film from 2017 that provided one of the coolest action set pieces in recent memory with a similarly executed motorcycle highway sword fight. Considering director Chad Stahelski used to be a stuntman himself, it’s safe to say this is an homage. Game (read: ridiculous motorcycle swordfighting) recognize game.


Laurence Fishburne, returning as the Bowery King—basically, the hobo king of New York—holding a pigeon menacingly.

Lawrence Fishburne holding a pigeon and glaring

That is all.


John keeps fighting his way through armies of goons, as we also get a very brief and slightly blurry glimpse at Asia Kate Dillon as the Adjudicator, another newcomer for Parabellum. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to get a look at who might be the most exciting new character: Tick Tock Man, played by Jason Mantzoukas. (If I were a guessing man, I’d say his weapon of choice is explosives.)


Is that Boban Marjanovic about to be decapitated by a book?

John Wick fighting Boban Marjanovic with a book in a library

HELL YES, THAT’S BOBAN MARJANOVIC ABOUT TO BE DECAPITATED BY A BOOK. I have many questions, such as how John can ably fight a man who is over 7 feet tall, but it’s moments like this that make Parabellum the most exciting release of the year.


Unfortunately, the greatness of this moment was spoiled for us, thanks to an iconic paparazzi photo from the Parabellum set that showed John shooting a goon riding a motorcycle while he was riding horseback. Still: This rules.

John Wick shooting someone on a motorcycle while riding a horse


Lower your heart rate for a few seconds with a relaxing shot of John walking through a desert.

Wide shot of John Wick walking in the desert

This seems to be the same desert incline that Jason Momoa and Amber Heard climbed/fell in love on in Aquaman, confirming that the John WickAquaman cinematic universe is still a possibility.


Halle Berry and her two Belgian Malinois:

Halle Berry walking with two dogs

The canine continuity of this franchise is truly unparalleled.


Berry’s character, Sophia, talks things over with John, suggesting that the two of them have some history together—especially since he trusts her after being excommunicated. “Nothing is ever just a conversation with you, John,” which makes me think they’ve been asking each other for favors—or, for added spice, that they used to hook up when he was at peak, pre-marriage Baba Yaga. Anyway, consider me a fan of Sophia and her good, big dogs.


Here’s an interesting revelation: It looks like Charon is helping John get some weapons.

Charon carrying a weapon

This tracks: Charon, as a concierge, is technically in the service industry, and he and John have shared a lot of mutual respect over the franchise. Maybe Winston wouldn’t approve—though he and John are also tight—but it’s nice to know some people in the assassin underworld still have his back.


Screen shot reading, “JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM”

I cried.



Dogs running through gunfire

Parabellum’s release is 120 excruciating days away. That’s the only bad news, however: This movie, like the ones that preceded it, looks like a beautiful genesis of headshots and very good dogs. The Baba Yaga is back, and looks as good as he’s ever been for a guy with a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head. Life outside of breakfast sandwiches finally has meaning again.