Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin's guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head - he is the target of hit men and women everywhere. Ralph Potts review the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Action

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, Angelica Huston
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Music by: Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
Written by:Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 10, 2019
"Prepare for War"

“Super assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild. Now excommunicado, and with an army of the world’s most ruthless hit men and women on his trail, John must find a way to survive in this third chapter of the adrenaline-fueled action series.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum picks up right where the previous film ends finding John Wick on the run after he executes a member of the High Table while in the protective confines of The Continental Hotel. Now marked as excommunicado by the shadowy international assassin's guild, John finds himself stripped of the organization's protective services with a $14 million bounty on his head, becoming the target of the world's most ruthless killers. With nowhere else to turn John must return to his roots in order to access those that can assist him in finding a means to locating the organization’s covert leader that stands above the “high table” in order to stave off the death sentence facing him.

I am most decidedly a fan of the JW film series and had every intention of seeing it while it was in theaters but, never got around to it. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum adheres to the series formula via its slick, stylish essence which elevates the narrative’s elements from typical action/thriller to that of a graphic novel brought to life. Yes, it’s indeed predictable, with a rather surface level story that began in the first film and continues to play out into this installment. Truth be told these aren’t films that truly meant to be about the story but, are aimed at adrenaline fueled action, the type of which diehard genre fans feed on.

As with the previous JW films, the action, especially the fight choreography, and attention to detail used in the gunfight exchanges, is frenetic and engaging. The use of visual effects is kept to a minimum in favor of excellent stunt work which adds to the appeal. I like the direction which keeps focus on point without overemphasizing the elements of drama while interweaving the “moments” that stitch context and action together. I really enjoyed the characters of Sofia (Halle Berry) and the “Adjudicator” (Asia Kate Dillon) both of whom made the most of their limited but, no less pivotal roles.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is every bit as entertaining as its predecessors, which is all that you can ask from any sequel. Once again, the door is left open for more to come from a character who seems to have breathed new life into the action film career of Keanu Reeves. We’ll see comes next!

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating for strong bloody violence throughout and some language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
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  • Entertainment factor: 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum was derived from a 2.8K source, rendered from a 2K DI, and up-converted to 4K.

The 1080p transfer looks solid and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. John Wick 3 is a visually dazzling film that benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. This is a dark action thriller that features elements that make use of rich color and, a distinctive visual aesthetic. Intimate details can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of moody visual cues offset by gleams of light that illuminate dark environs, like the compound where John and Sofia meet with Berrada of the theater where the ballerinas rehearse. The film’s plethora of shadow laden environs offer increased resolve in terms of interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity. The film utilizes sepia, neon schemed color and, an overall warm chromatic aesthetic that appears faithfully reproduced. I found instances where the image softened, depending on the camera angle, however this appears to innate, as it is present in both the Ultra HD, and 1080p renderings.

Stylistically speaking, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum isn’t the type of film that is going to dazzle with its use of eye scorching dynamism or sun splashed color rendering. There is no question that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful and makes for a distinct improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for JW 3 I found the HDR renderings to be close but, the Dolby Vision presentation edged out the HDR-10 rendering. This came primarily in the form of minutely improved interstitials in blacks. I also thought that white detail fared better ever so slightly. Color rendering was a tossup, but, if I was forced to choose, I would give the nod to the Dolby Vision’s handling of the film’s varied color base. As I alluded to earlier, each of these presentations looked terrific, and share many of the same positive attributes. Both are simply fantastic and deserving of their technical ratings. I suspect that those capable of viewing it in Dolby Vision will find it to be just a notch above.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics, music and discrete effects. This is done to very good effect, creating a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The motorcycle chase through NYC features a host of swirling effects that travel around the soundstage moving overheard, passing by and coming directly at the listening position.

Throughout the course of the film there are set pieces that show off the immersive effect as the blend of music, weapon fire and smaller object sounds rain down from above. Everything comes together during the violent encounters at the Berrada compound and Continental Hotel where you are placed inside the action as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I think that it complimented the source material and made for an entertaining and thoroughly engaging listening experience.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide-angle shots of the city and desert sequence look great. Framed at 2.39:1 the video has excellent depth, and a stimulating visual aura. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. John Wick 3: Parabellum looks great on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack doesn’t disappoint. This is an active audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is quite good as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the large fight sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and clarity. This is an aggressive mix that makes regular use of the low frequency effects to accentuate its dynamic presence. The result is that all points of contact seem to resonate with tactile bass impact. Dialog has refining presence with clear vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is an entertaining audio presentation that compliments the film while making for an excellent home theater experience.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: John Wick 3: Parabellum Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: John Wick 3: Parabellum Blu-ray
    • “Parabellum: Legacy of the High Table” Featurette
    • “Excommunicado” Featurette
    • “Check Your Sights” Featurette
    • “Saddle Up Wick” Featurette
    • “Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits” Featurette
    • “Continental in the Desert” Featurette
    • “Dog Fu” Featurette
    • “House of Transparency” Featurette
    • “Shot by Shot” Featurette
    • Theatrical Trailer #1
    • Theatrical Trailer #2
    • John Wick Hex Game Trailer
    • “Behind the Scenes of John Wick Hex” Featurette
  • Digital
Final Thoughts:

As with its predecessors John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum doesn’t reinvent the wheel but, ramps the entertainment factor, with an entertaining blend of stylized action, and well executed production elements, that give it a genre bending appeal. It arrives on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack that features rewarding Ultra HD video in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 flavors, excellent high definition audio/video quality, engaging Dolby Atmos immersive sound, and a fair assortment of extras that are worth exploring if you’re a fan.

If you enjoy the John Wick film series John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum is more of the same and lots of fun. It looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. If you’re set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray and immersive sound, the home theater experience is taken up a notch. Either way this one belongs in the collection of genre fans. Enjoy!
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems