If this one hit the shelves of your local media store by surprise, then you're not alone. I am not sure what happened with the release of this film, but I strongly feel like it was under-promoted. When I bought it yesterday, I was thrown aback seeing it on the shelf. I was still waiting for it to hit theaters.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't stay right on top of release dates, and I'll also admit that competing with Avengers: End Game was probably not a very wise decision. I also still have to wonder how the hell this one slipped under my radar, if it was promoted properly and as effectively as other major movie releases (especially since I was at the theater around the time of its release, on May 17, 2019).
That being said, let's jump into the 4K review of this movie.
First of all, I will have to say that I was not overly impressed by this chapter of the movie. I had very high expectations, after Chapter 2 and the whole story that it had to tell, all the while John progressing through that story, building on the supreme bad-ass that they created in the first movie. For me, it only made sense that the third one would develop this bad-assery even more. And, yes, it absolutely made sense that the story would do so by telling us the story of how John began.
But it didn't...
While there were a lot of "you're going back to where it all began" comments and innuendos, there was not actually a story being told to us, for the viewers to grow with the character.
So, John has been listed excommunicado, with a $14 million bounty on his head and the movie stars out with him, having an hour of time before the bounty goes live. It's a wonderful set up for how the movie should have started, and it actually builds off that with John having to fight, and kill a monstrosity of a man in the New York Public Library.
Following this encounter, John goes to a theater, and meets with the head of what appears to be the Belarusian mafia (because he already killed the Russians in the first chapter, so it makes sense).
After Chapter 2 set us up for the intense meaning of markers and tickets in the underworld that John is a part of, this chapter goes on a tirade of people refusing his markers and tokens, and him having to argue to keep them honored—a theme that is repetitive and quite yawn-inducing.
His meeting with the Belarusians goes off without much hitch, but this is also where the "return to where it all began" starts, and they do a fantastic job of mentioning it on repeat, and solidifying it by burning his token into his back and telling him that he may never return home. Only, they completely leave out any real storyline about where he came from, but I'm sure we'll find out once he gets to Casablanca.
Or maybe we won't. As he's being attacked in a Moroccan alley, someone appears and calls a stop, saying that John's been granted amnesty and his passage is free. John is then escorted to Sofia (played by Halle Berry), and is subsequently attacked by her, with her telling him that that she should shoot him in the head. There's an intensity in this scene that screams that we're going to learn about their relationship from the past, but we never do.
Instead, he demands that Sofia walk him into a meeting with Berrada (played by Jerome Flynn; you may remember him as Ser Bronn in Game of Thrones). John forces a marker upon Sofia, one in which she makes a blood oath to John for hiding her daughter from her and what we presume is the rest of the assassin underworld, but we're left to our assumptions because, once again, they don't damn well tell us anything more.
The meeting with Ser Bronn... Berrada... goes off without any hitch. We discover that he runs the gold mint that makes all the gold coins for the organization, and he goes on a boring ramble about what they mean, which leads into him demanding that Sofia give him one of her dogs in return for the information he has given them (how John is to find The Elder, the one single man who controls the whole operation).
Sofia refuses, Berrada shoots her dog, and Sofia starts a gun fight while her other dog bites Berrada's dick and won't let go—a scene that had absolutely no business being in the sequence. It was so out of place that (god bless those directors and writers) they wrote in half a dozen more times about John and Sofia's departure from the compound.
But, then.... Wait a minute. Both dogs are alive all of a sudden, and in quite healthy form. As John and Sofia are fighting their way out of the compound, both dogs are seen attacking people, so then why was starting the gun fight necessary? Must have been pissed off that all we learned about the elder is that, if he doesn't choose to see you, you will die looking for him in the desert.
Okay, okay. So he's going to go see the Elder, and we're definitely going to find out what this whole backstory is all about. Wrong again. When he gets to the Elder (I guess he chose to see him after all), he's asked why he wants to live, and John responds that he wants time to remember his wife. There's a comment about coming back to where it all began, and that if he is allowed to live, he must rejoin the assassin life until he dies. He's then told that he has to kill Winston, and then his excommunicado status will be lifted.
That's really all you need to know about the movie. After that, it's just 40 or so minutes of constant fighting that leaves you wondering how John has so much muscle stamina, and leaves his bad-ass side sort of in question as he just walks through everything that the movie throws at him—including being shot by Winston, and falling off the roof of the Continental after refusing to kill Winston...
The movie ends with John being delivered to the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), who apparently survived the Table's attack that left us thinking he was dead. The King says he's pissed off, and asks John if he's pissed off. John raises his head up off the floor, looks at him, and replies, "Oh, yeah. I'm pissed off." And the movie closes out leaving us with a feeling of distaste for the upcoming fourth chapter.
Now, is this movie necessary in 4K? I mean, if you've already bought the player and the 4K television, then you may as well spend the money on the 4K disk. This however, is not a movie I would rush out and purchase an entire system for. There are a lot of dark scenes, so there are a lot of enriched blacks and visual shadowing where you would expect there to be. But, overall, it's not completely impressive compared to a Blu-ray.
I think the most impressive part of this movie being in 4K was the desert scenes. Being able to visually distinguish the sand grains and ripples in the sand from the wind was definitely a plus. But, unlike The Hunger Games, this movie was set in the city, and because the majority of it happens after dark, all the 4K does is make the lights look really pretty.
All in all, I would not say that I overly enjoyed this chapter. It lacked everything it needed in storytelling and character development. It introduced us to several new key characters, and despite killing a lot of them off, there was still a need for us to know how that character played in their role in the underworld, because they will be replaced in that role, and I am certain Chapter 4 will see their roles again.
But of course, I was also sure we'd see a backstory develop in Chapter 3, and I was wrong about that.