A good movie will draw you into the world it has created and make you feel part of it. So much so, that there’s a chance you’ll leave the theater after with a bit of an adrenaline rush. Maybe the latest Bond flick has you feeling like you can be the next 007. Maybe an over-the-top car chase has you pressing on the gas pedal and drifting like a pro. Maybe the story of a talented musician has you thinking you could pick up a guitar and strum a perfect rhythm.
Most of the time we’re left with wanting more. We want something similar, yet new at the same time. You don’t want to watch the same film again, you want to watch something that pairs nicely. Here at ScreenAge Wasteland, we’ve selected six films that you should watch after John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Here are the pairings.
The Usual Suspects | Blank Stare
No one really touches on this, but John Wick is and always has been a ghost story, a monster movie; Friday the 13th from Jason’s perspective. Grounded in the pseudo-reality of a fictitious, ever watching and untouchable class of super-assassins (who I assume can’t be hired from Craigslist; I’m conducting experiments) we know it’s pure Hollywood makebelieveland at its finest.
But deep down, we wonder: Is there a monster in the closet? Is that guy with the violin case wandering into that nondescript downtown building someone we really want to take notice of: Is the mysterious double homicide in the news just another relationship turned to fatal tragedy?
The Usual Suspects is a lesson in this kind of ghost story; what happens in the mundane world when the unknown suddenly reaches up from the pit and looks you in the eye? What happens when you realize that the ghost stories are true and that terrible, willful people who otherwise exist entirely in secrecy come to you with a message: “Do this thing. Do it or you will pay.”?
Would you run, hide, wonder if every detail around you suddenly has some new anecdotal significance?
Whether it be Baba Yaga or Keyser Söze, these monsters will not be denied.
Ninja Assassin | BB Ben
It’s been 10 years since Ninja Assassin was first thrust into theaters and became a mild box office success. While saddled with middling reviews, I liked the flashy, gory, 300-inspired action of what was a pretty straightforward ninja movie — and who doesn’t love ninjas? Although the CG blood and bullet time swooshes showed their age even in 2009, I still had a good time with this modern rewatch.
The film is directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta), who holds the distinction of working on The Matrix trilogy, just like the John Wick crew. Similarly, Ninja Assassin and John Wick fall into a neo-noir aesthetic, dealing with the seedy, shadowy underbellies of organized crime. And although I could try to explain the plot of Ninja Assassin, it’s essentially about a ninja revolting from his clan, and having an entire ninja army come after him … Ninjas!
The main rebel is played by Rain, who you might recognize from the far superior Speed Racer movie (also a Wachowski joint). Although his acting is nothing to write home about, the dude is cut, and in more ways than one. But he can heal himself! Specifically with those Dr. Strange hands that look like shadow puppets. Did I mention there’s magic? Yeah, I forgot that. Also, some fools can teleport.
My initial suggestion was to watch Ninja Assassin before John Wick 3, for practical, chronological reasons, or to save the best for last. One could also follow this order just to see how action scenes have improved in a decade (MTV editing, oy vey). But about halfway through this mess I realized that it should follow John Wick – likely after some beers. Once you’re dealing with ninjas in a highway version of Frogger and a group of the pajama-clad wholly outgunned by bazookas, you know where it stands. If Kill Bill was a love letter to classic kung-fu flicks from the 70s, Ninja Assassin is an homage to the ridiculous, American, cocaine-fueled karate movies from the 80s. Watch with some bros.
Jack Reacher | Marmaduke Karlston
Before John Wick shouted that he was back in 2014, there was already a retired badass taking down lowlifes on the bigscreen, and his name was Jack No Middle Name Reacher.
Jack Reacher is based on a popular series of novels by Lee Child that follows an American ex-military police who drifts across the United States managing to get roped into whatever trouble a small town finds itself in. The 2012 film, based on the novel One Shot, has Reacher working to clear the name of a wrongly accused man who has been framed for killing five random individuals with six shots.
John Wick’s weapon of choice may be a gun, but Reacher prefers to work with his fists. Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) directs some outstanding close-knit fight scenes, along with a car chase with Tom Cruise directly behind the wheel. These fights are brutal, tense, and humorous, thanks to Cruise’s spot-on performance as Reacher. While Cruise lacks the height the character is known for in the books, he nails the mannerisms and mentality that makes Reacher such a compelling character. He’s always thinking.
Both Reacher and Wick are characters that are worth watching for their unpredictable, yet reasonable actions. It’s a pairing that makes for a great action-packed double feature.
Blue Ruin | Vincent Kane
Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin is a revenge thriller that takes a more of an intimate and personal look at the consequences of vengeance. It’s a brutal and stark story about a drifter named Dwight reeling from the murder of his parents. Much like John Wick, Dwight is on a mission to kill the person responsible for his misery. His plan is to kill his target who was recently released from prison, but he isn’t a trained and seasoned killer like Mr. Wick and things go haywire when he learns that he may have killed the wrong person. Where John Wick’s precision and focus helps him plow through henchman after henchman, Dwight’s clumsiness leaves him vulnerable to the family of his victim.
As cruel as Blue Ruin can be, it has a certain dark comedy quality to its violence similar to that of John Wick. As John Wick delivers head shot after head shot, we are continually entertained and cheering him on. On the other end of the spectrum we see Dwight bumble his way through something he has never experienced, causing more harm than good. However, that clumsiness makes it a hard watch that almost forces you into nervous and uncomfortable laughter at times. Where you want to see Wick go further down the rabbit hole, you are practically begging Dwight to turn around and leave revenge to the experts.
John Wick and Blue Ruin are both pretty brutal revenge flicks, but how our heroes get to their ultimate end are two very different ways. Blue Ruin won’t leave you with same warm fuzzies as the Baba Yaga. Instead it will show you the more realistic side of the revenge coin.
The Killer | Lee McCutcheon
Chances are, if you are a fan of the John Wick Trilogy, you like guns. And lots of them. With the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, there doesn’t feel like a better time to revisit the gun toting granddaddy of them all: John Woo’s The Killer.
Woo might be best know to some people for his over the top Hollywood releases. Think of Face Off, Broken Arrow, and Mission Impossible 2. The roots of these films and a lot of modern action classics can be traced back to his earlier Hong Kong productions, in particular The Killer. Released in 1989, the story centres around assassins, police and the triads, with some budding romances and bromances thrown in for good measure. The bad guys are terrible shots. The good guys have infinite ammo. The story has large helpings of cheese. But that’s all part of the fun.
Starring Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), the plot has some surprising depth and takes a number of twists and turns. But the real attraction here is action and gun-play. Superb choreography is employed throughout with multiple action scenes really getting the heart racing. The finale (which involves a Church getting shot to bits, iconic white doves scattering in slow motion, and a Mexican standoff) is one of the most satisfying in cinema history.
Yes, The Killer will probably feel a little dated to newcomers. But if you want to experience one of the major influences on modern action releases such as the John Wick series, then The Killer is definitely worth your time.
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World | Sailor Monsoon
At first glance, a hyper violent action flick getting paired with a madcap zany comedy makes as much sense as putting chocolate on a tuna sandwich or pineapple on pizza, but if you break each film down to their respected premises, they’re basically the same story. Both films are about a group of people on a scavenger hunt to retrieve a large sum of money. Replace IAMMMMW‘s (the title is so long, even the acronym is interminable) cavalcade of celebrity cameos with JW3‘s never-ending parade of hired killers and the iconic “Big W” with John Wick’s corpse and you have a strong case for plagiarism … if you were the craziest lawyer in the world.
Admittedly, the connection is tenuous at best, but they do both mine excitement out of chaotic set pieces, so there’s at least a line to link the two films together. It’s the same line an insane man makes when he’s trying to convince anyone close enough to hear him that the government is run by satanic lizard people who sacrifice celebrities that know too much about the holographic moon, but a line is a line, damn it! If you want to cleanse your palate after the bloody onslaught brought on by a dog obsessed uber assassin, the equally action packed (temper your expectations) and far more funny It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World would pair nice.
Those are our pairings; now it’s your turn. What do you think would pair nicely with John Wick: Chapter 3?